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Assos is a brand apart, whatever your level of affinity for the Swiss apparel maker might be. Whether you are one of its passionate devotees or a naysayer lamenting high prices, you must acknowledge there is no other brand like Assos.
A recent trip to Assos HQ revealed that its passion for quality, innovation, aesthetic and detail which began with its founder, Tony Maier- Moussa, is alive and well. Every aspect of the company’s Lugano, Switzerland home exudes these elements. What began as the founder’s home, with the burgeoning apparel business being built in the basement, has grown to purchase many of the surrounding buildings all now finished in black and white. Within is everything Assos needs to develop new product as well as reminders of its storied history around every corner.
Assos has an in-house creative department, pattern making, prototyping, fabric testing, sublimating and every other capability needed to design and iterate clothing. For Assos this is not about getting it done faster, it is about getting it done better. Development of a new product will have no preset budget, it will have no due date and can take 5-7 years. No off the shelf fabrics are used. Every stitch undergoes phenomenal testing in the lab and on the road and 70 to 80 iterations of a single garment are not uncommon. Once a garment is in production at one of Assos’s European factories it still comes home to HQ before being shipped to dealers. Despite the added shipping expense Assos demands one final quality check before letting it carry the Assos name to a bike shop near you.
How good are the products? Consider this, while it sponsors the Swiss National Federation, Assos sponsors no pro teams yet last year they serviced 850 paying pro customers. What did they want? Those pros had Assos pull the chamois from their sponsor’s shorts and replace it with an Assos chamois. A service for which these pros paid out of their own pockets.
Before wearing a pair of Assos shorts it’s easy to ask, ‘How can they charge so much?’ Once you ride in them you know they are worth the money. After a visit to Assos HQ it becomes easy to ask, ‘How can they charge so little?’
Here’s a little glimpse at one of the many test machines at Assos’s fabric testing facility at its headquarters.