I first noticed this brand a couple years ago, and honestly, with so much top-level cycling apparel available these days, I wondered if there was room on the rack for a new hi-tech label. How different could La Passione be?
But being an Italo-phile myself, I was naturally interested – after all they did show up with real Italian designs, made in Italy manufacturing, and a direct to consumer online shop to make it available everywhere.
By now we’ve tried and tested a number of their pieces, and across the board have been impressed. I like that the colors are bold and bright (sure you can get black in everything) but it takes some edge to stand up and offer colors that other brands shy away from because dealers are afraid to stock anything besides what everyone wants.
But what I’ve always loved most about our approach to cycling reportage, is finding the story behind the news – what made it happen – how did we get here? So when I saw this interview with La Passione founders Yurika Marchetti and Giuliano Ragazzi, I read it with interest, and wanted to share it with PEZ readers. I hope you enjoy it -.
This article appears on the La Passione website here.
How did the La Passione adventure begin and what exactly does it mean to be a Direct-to-Consumer brand in the cycling apparel industry?
The founders, Yurika Marchetti and Giuliano Ragazzi, tell their story.
How did the name come about?
Y – One evening, after an intense week of research, I asked Giuliano, “why are we doing all this?” He simply replied, “For passion”. That is where it all started. We inserted a “La” as a reinforcer. For us, cycling represents passion par excellence, something that is stronger than anything and drives towards a goal, whatever the effort required to reach it.
G – Then a claim that summarized all of this came to mind, and “Worth The Effort” was born, an incentive to pursue whatever is truly worthwhile. Our brand isn’t one to celebrate performance at all costs because for us cycling is something experiential and a metaphor for life. It’s about enjoying the ride, stopping to eat a sandwich with friends in front of a breathtaking view or, as in everyday life, giving your all to pursue your goals and being able to say, at the end of each ride, that it was worth it, regardless of the end result. What counts is to have given everything.
This is our idea, the one that inspires us every day.
What drove you to choose a Direct-to-Consumer business model?
G – We wanted to create something unique, but it wasn’t enough to have a well-made high-quality product that comes in beautiful colors. The market already offered products of excellent quality but sold at very high prices. So, we chose to make more accessible to fans a product of the highest quality that also meets high ethical standards of work and ensures sustainability throughout the supply chain. For this reason, we identified the Direct-to-Consumer model as the winning choice. Even today, after six years and the launches of many other brands, we are the only truly digital native brand that deals with cycling apparel and that, with an absolute radical approach, sells its products exclusively on the company website. In fact, our collections are not available anywhere else, neither physically nor digitally. We are very proud to say that.
A DNVB (Digital Native Vertical Brand) also stands out for the efficiency of its customer service.
How much do consumers’ suggestions, comments and opinions affect the creation and modification of a product?
Y – With a business model like ours, having a very strong relationship with the customer is critical. In terms of the product and market we are in, our approach has always been customer-centric: we listen to the feedback we receive from our customer service team and use it during the product development stage, as well as constantly analyzing the reasons for return customers, as well as trends in satisfaction. This data guides our choices, helps us to be ever closer to the needs of the community and accompanies us in the development of new garments or product categories. In our DNA there is the fact of not having intermediaries and the message of the customer, for better or for worse, is delivered without filters. This is a fundamental value for the achievement of our goals and is important in order to offer a product made not for a customer, but “together with a customer”.
Where does the inspiration for the collections come from?
G – We always do a lot of research; we study the trends of the future and we follow a very precise stylistic path. When we started, we asked ourselves why cycling apparel could not be elegant, as it is in other sports such as golf, skiing, and tennis. We wanted to overturn the concept of style, to bring a bit of the fashion into the world of cycling.
Y – La Passione’s product proposal is elegant and minimalist and aims to accommodate the taste of a generation of cyclists who are very attentive to their look. In many things we have been precursors, for example, we were the first to propose dark blue Bib Shorts to the market – which is the color that represents our brand. A shade that is still much imitated today and remains one of the most loved by customers.
After the opening of online stores in the USA, UK, Australia, Germany, and France, in the last few days you have also launched in Italy and Spain. What are the challenges of the new markets?
G – La Passione’s business model has already allowed us to reach over 41 countries in a short time, establishing solid relationships with users from every corner of the world and every continent. The opening of new stores is part of this process of exponential growth that sees, in the future, an even more widespread reach of new markets, every day closer to the customers. Last year, we launched sites aimed at North America and the United Kingdom, and in 2021 we have cooperated with countries such as Australia, Germany and France. The first data from these stores have confirmed the customers are satisfied.
Y – Our goal is certainly to think of, and make, a top-of-the-line product for many people, and we want the tools to access it to be as thoughtful as possible. While it’s true that most people now understand English, it’s also true that in your own language you get more accurate nuances and decisions are made with more confidence.
What does the future for La Passione hold?
Y – In terms of products, we want to pursue the concept of style combined with performance, which for us can also be applied in other areas beyond the classic road bike. In the next few days, there will be the launch of the Spinning collection. We will target a totally female audience that has rediscovered training at home through the trend of virtual classes and live streaming. Another scenario that we will explore in the coming months will be that of urban cycling, a theme that is very close to our hearts as firm supporters of sustainable mobility. Our goal is to continue to do what we know how – i.e., dress those who pedal with style – expanding to other sectors. We are therefore dedicating ourselves to these projects aimed at new end-users, people who have never used the bike but have rediscovered it for the most varied of reasons -from the pandemic to pollution and traffic – making it a means that not only allows you to do a sport but is also practical and useful in everyday life. We are also very happy to have the continuous support of not only the market, but also of our longtime investors, important international investment funds and business angels, who have believed in us since the beginning and are providing, with great “passion”, their resources and experience to contribute to the success of the brand.
G – Considering that in just a few years we have gone from being just two people to having a team of more than thirty, we will certainly continue to work to grow and become more and more solid. Our core business remains of course the road bike business. We are currently the third most visited online cycling apparel brand in the UK and have climbed many places up the market ladder in terms of sales, becoming a relevant brand in the global landscape. We need to increase our recognition by going into unknown territories where online and offline marketing complement each other. With this in mind, this year, we are happy to have entered into two iconic partnerships such as the one with Tom Boonen, our brand ambassador – with whom we are also developing a new capsule – and Flanders Classics, in particular the Tour of Flanders. Consistent with these objectives, we are working on an important project that will see us enter, for the first time, as a technical partner of a major professional World Tour team, but for now … we can not reveal anything.
See & Shop the LaPassione website here.
See all PezCyclingNews posts related to La Passione here.