The story of Castelli stretches back more than 134 years to a small tailoring shop in Milan founded by Vittore Gianni. The Company took a definitive turn toward cycling in 1935, when one Armando Castelli became a part of Gianni’s staff.
Four years later, Castelli purchased the company from Gianni, and the story kicks into gear. Armando supplied the cycling hero’s of Coppi, Bartali, Bobet, Van Looy, and Anquetil, and along the way expanded that effort into supplying a handful of professional teams.
It wouldn’t be until the birth of Armando’s son, Maurizio, that Castelli as we know it today, would soon take shape. The youngster came up in cycling, and it was only logical that he would end up in the business, however, the extent of his passion and desire for innovation would soon cause a parting of ways with his father and the founding of the Castelli brand in 1974. The firsts began to roll out with regularity soon after.
For three decades, Castelli created apparel that defined modern cycling. Eddy Merckx carried a refined version of a Castelli body suit to the world record in the one-hour. Bernard Hinault wore a Castelli windproof jersey to win the Fleche Wallone classic. Perhaps most importantly, Maurizio pioneered the sublimation dye process, an advance that allowed colors, logos, and his signature aesthetic flair to be added to even the most technical fabric. Cycling – and sponsorships – would never be the same.
9 November 1979. Castelli was crowned with the prestigious Corriere dello Sport Discobolo award. The presentation letter says, “Castelli… has, in a truly futuristic way, revolutionized clothing for cyclists.” Maurizio also demonstrated a flamboyant flair for publicity.
At the 1981 Giro, for instance, he outfitted a handful of riders with turquoise Lycra shorts – at a time when only black shorts were allowed. The riders came to the start line wearing wool leggings that concealed the banned burst of color. Moments before the start, the riders yanked off the leggings.
A media frenzy followed, including day-long television coverage of the turquoise– and scorpion–clad riders crossing the Italian countryside. Race officials fined Castelli for the stunt. No matter. The publicity was worth every life.
In 1995, Maurizio’s life was cut short at age 47 when he died of a heart attack riding up the Cipressa hill, the legendary ascent on the Milan-San Remo course. It would be difficult to overstate Maurizio Castelli’s contribution to the sport and business of cycling. Maurizio’s guiding philosophy was to combine technology with innovative style and design.
The focus on innovation at Castelli is not a slogan, it’s a mantra of sorts. The passion and desire of Maurizio Castelli to create enhancing performance clothing is just as evident today as it was in 1974. Each and every day we set out to create tomorrow’s revolutionary futuristic clothing.
Castelli has been at the forefront of essentially every breakthrough in cycling clothing since making the wool shorts obsolete.
1977 FIRST AERODYNAMIC LYCRA® SHORT
1981 FIRST COLORED LYCRA® SHORT
1983 FIRST SUBLIMATION PRINTING OF JERSEYS
1984 FIRST FUNCTIONAL THERMAL WINTER CLOTHING (THERMODRESS)
1996 FIRST FULLY AERODYNAMIC SKINSUIT
1998 FIRST MODERN BIB SHORT, INTRODUCING THE Y-CUT SEATPAD (PROGETTO Y)
1998 FIRST WICKING FABRIC TREATMENT (PROSECCO)
2008 FIRST RADIATING INSULATION (RADIATION)
2010 BODY PAINT FUTURISTIC BIBSHORT