1991 was not a good year for fashion. Contemporary designers continue to cherry pick trends from previous decades, but the early 1990's are routinely overlooked. This, in case you need reminding, was a period in Western culture when the World's youth were attempting to emulate the wardrobes of Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Chesney Hawkes. Enough said.
Cycling was not immune. The professional peloton has been guilty of many fashion faux-pas over the years and the pick of the bunch date from the eighties and early 1990s. 'Subtle' or 'understated' are not words one would use to describe the pro team jerseys of this era. Neon fabrics and brash branding combined to create a kaleidoscope of clashing colours that negated the need to seek out TV helicopters to establish where the lead group was on the road. You could, quite literally, see them coming before they'd crested the hill.
Get your sunglasses on: the vivid kaleidescope that was the pro peloton of the early 90's approaches.
If the latest offering from online cycle clothing store Prendas Ciclismo is anything to go by, we shouldn't be too harsh on the sartorial exuberance of 1991. This edition to their stable is a faithful reproduction of the jersey worn by the GiS Gelati/Ballan team during their 1991 season. It's a chronological move for the Dorset based company, whose collection of classic vintage jerseys herald from the era when Merckx and Hinault were in their pomp. Prendas have worked in close conjunction with the original Italian manufacturer, Giessegi, to ensure that the detailing is as truthful to the original as possible.
That's not to say that this modern reincarnation doesn't benefit from a few contemporary tweaks here and there - Giessegi's AirDry fabric, a full zip, raglan sleeves and a silicon gripper on the hem make this a practical addition to ones cycling wardrobe as well as an emphatic fashion statement! Yes, it's brash! Yes, it's crying out to be seen! But it is also rather beguiling. If Lady Gaga was a cycle jersey then this a close approximation of what she would look like.
It's somewhat of an understatement to say that this is a design that catches the eye. The GiS Gelati jersey has the power to rip eyeballs from sockets. This seemingly erratic combination of fluro greens, reds and pinks was possibly intended to reflect the palette of ice-cream flavours concocted by the primary sponsor of the team, GiS Gelati. Like tutti frutti, this jersey is not going to be to everyone's tastes. If, however, you eschew the minimalist, conservative designs of the Raphas of this world then this is certainly the jersey for you. Team Sky Procycling this most definitely is not - more the bastard love-child of the current Lampre Merida and Vini Fantini strips.
Loud and proud: the GiS Gelati squadra go on the hunt for pastel shades during the 1991 Giro.
Team GiS Gelati first entered the professional peloton in 1978. GiS Gelati was an Italian ice cream maker and the team was predominantly made up of Italian riders. The two undisputed star signings were the Belgian, Roger de Vlaeminck and the Italian legend, Francesco Moser. The latter rode for the team in the early eighties, winning the Giro d'Italia in 1984, and the Classics specialist de Vlaeminck won Milan - San Remo in 1979, wearing the GIS Gelati colours. These were the heady days of GiS Gelati but by 1991 the team had been relegated to the second division, competing predominately within the Italian racing calendar, though still participating in the Giro.
Another of GiS Gelati's famous sons was one Simone Fraccaro, who rode for the team between 1980 and 1983. In 1984, still riding as a professional but nearing the end of his career, he founded his own cycle clothing company and named it . . . Giessegi. Within a few years his fledgling business was manufacturing the jerseys for his former Team. Giessegi prides itself on making everything in Italy and though the company is now run by his son, Fraccaro Senior still visits the factory in Treviso on a daily basis to oversee the smooth operation of the machinery.
Unfortunately, the 1991 jersey manufactured by Fraccaro marked the swansong for the GiS Gelati team. At the end of the season the ice cream manufacturer ended its sponsorship and the team was disbanded.
Let's not be in any doubt, wearing this jersey is going to get you noticed. Whether you are out cycling, enjoying a cake stop or even, for that matter, sitting in the comfort of your own home, this has to be the most unique hi-viz jersey currently on the market! The jersey comes in a staggering 9 sizes, from XSmall to XXXXXL, the latter accommodating a whopping 50 inch chest and the sartorial needs of even the most rotund cycling fashionista!
It may seem unlikely, but there may be some people out there whose hunger for day-glo fabrics and fluro giraffe-print fabric might not be satisfied by the GiS Gelati jersey. Fortunately, Giessegi have thought of that scenario and Prendas Ciclismo also sell authentic 1991 GiS Gelati bib shorts. Given what lies above them, the bibs are remarkably restrained in comparison.
And for that post ride coffee, why not chomp on your biscotti wearing the team's cotton cap! The only thing you'll be missing to complete that authentic GiS Gelati 1991 look is a pair of neon pink socks and a Cornetto!
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