Office Sundays

Paul’s Cycling Jerseys Collection

Discover the story behind Paul’s personal collection of cycling jerseys, which includes Tour de France jerseys, green jerseys and maglia rosa from the likes of Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome and more.

Despite the endless stacks of books, artworks, and collections of trinkets in Paul’s office, you can’t mistake the sheer amount of cycling memorabilia. Let’s put it this way: more than once has a colleague tripped over a bicycle on a visit or trying to find their seat at a meeting. Next to the bikes, competing for space near Paul’s desk, there’s also a precariously balanced pile of cycling jerseys, both vintage and newer models.

It’s no secret that Paul has harboured a lifelong love of cycling – he even once dreamt of becoming a pro himself, until a bad accident set him on a new path. “You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I was attracted by its sense of style,” Paul says. “Things like Fausto Coppi’s sunglasses, Jacques Anquetil’s jerseys and the beautiful graphics on a piece of Campagnolo kit have provided a regular source of inspiration in my work.”

Style was also the reason Paul began collecting vintage cycling jerseys. “As a designer, one of the ways I find inspiration is by going to street markets… And slowly, especially in Italy, I began coming across old cycling jerseys. So, I started buying them,” Paul explains. When he started meeting people in the cycling world, they found out about the collection and started sending Paul their own – sometime signing them and sometimes even with their racing numbers still pinned.

It wouldn’t be practical to list every single example that have found a new home in his office here but suffice to say that Paul’s collection now includes jerseys gifted by some of the sport’s legends. Here’s the story behind just a few.

Mark Cavendish’s Green Jersey

Worn by Mark Cavendish for HTC-Columbia when he became only the second British rider to win the points classification in a grand tour – and still pinned with his race numbers – this green jersey (the so-called ‘maillot vert’) is from the Vuelta a España in 2010. It was also the first time Mark received a green jersey in a major tour. “I’ve known Cav since he was very young,” Paul explains. “He’s always been very polite, very gentlemanly, and very humble. He’s got a bit of a reputation for being quite aggressive and forthright, but I think that’s the nature of a sprinter, really. You can’t be seen to be weak when you’re going along at 70 kph with your rivals’ elbows in your chest.”

Edvald Boasson Hagen’s Team Sky Jersey

If you can cast your mind back 13 years to 2010, you might remember this Team Sky jersey, gifted to Paul by Norwegian pro rider Edvald Boasson Hagen, a now ten-time winner of the Norwegian National Time Trial Championships, but then just 22 years old. It might have been Edvald’s jersey, but the entire team signed it for Paul, members of which included Sir Bradley Wiggins. The creation of the team – which is now known as the Ineos Grenadiers – came about as a new era in British cycling, which had never seen much success, was dawning. Since then, with significant investment, research, and adopting the famous ‘marginal gains’ tactic ­­– the Brits have made their mark on the world of cycling and road racing winning countless grand tours, world championships and Olympic medals.

Chris Froome’s Yellow Jersey

Celebrated British cyclist Chris Froome made history when he won the general classification of the Tour de France in 2013 – not only because he became the second only Brit (after Bradley Wiggins the year previously) to win, but because it was the race’s momentous 100th anniversary. It has been described as having some of the toughest stages, with famous climbs including Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez. Chris signed this jersey for Paul, who first saw the Tour de France in the late 1970s with Pauline, his wife. “We found a spot on the Place de la Concorde, so that we could enjoy the spectacular sight of the riders turning into the Champs-Élysées,” Paul explains. “Even though we’re quite tall, the crowd was so big that we needed a couple of those cardboard periscope things to see over their heads.”

The Paul Smith Giro d’Italia Maglia Rosa

The story behind this jersey is especially important to Paul. “In 2013 the organisers of the Giro d’Italia [one of the three major European grand tours] invited me to design the jerseys for that year’s race, including the ‘maglia rosa’, the pink jersey worn by the leader in the overall classification [the equivalent of the yellow jersey at the Tour de France],” the designer said. “It was taken to the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope before the start of the race, which isn’t something that happens to all the clothes I design.” In terms of the actual jersey, Paul wanted to keep it simple, but those with keen eyes will spot his iconic Signature Stripe on the sleeves. This long-sleeved one was presented to Mark Cavendish when he won the first stage in Naples by none other than Paul himself.

Mark Cavendish’s Rainbow Jersey

The rainbow jersey is one of cycling’s most prestigious honours – in fact, Mark Cavendish once said that winning it would mean more than an Olympic gold medal. Awarded to the winner of the World Championship – in this case in road cycling ­– it has been a tradition since 1927 when the race was opened up to professionals as well as amateurs. When you win the World Championship, you have the right to ride wearing the rainbow jersey until your crown is taken from you. Mark – who won in 2011 – was kind enough to include a short message when he gave one of his to Paul: “To Paul, one of the best friends I could ever hope to have. Thank you for everything,” he wrote, signing it with his name accompanied by a small, scribbled drawing of a cyclist – his signature signature. 

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Published: 05.23

Words: Molly Isabella Smith

Photos: Helen Gibson