Book review: The Art of the Jersey

The jersey is arguably the most cherished of all cycling icons. Nothing quite delineates an era like the maillot. Teams and riders come and go, of course, and the particular design of a jersey can be a key that unlocks the memory of a race or a hero long departed from the sport.


Andy Storey is far too modest to admit to such a thing, but anyone who knows him will tell you that he is an expert on cycling jerseys: their design and construction, the men who rode in them, the great races lit up by their colours; the peculiar stories behind them.


Apt, then, that he has recently finished a rather wonderful book, The Art of the Jersey, published by Octopus. It contains more than 200 jerseys, from the iconic to the obscure, with over 100 from his personal collection, and others loaned by the likes of Etxeondo, Santini and Sportful.


Storey’s expertise and personal taste combine to make interesting and enjoyable reading. The Art of the Jersey is refreshingly free from list-based journalism, for example.


“It’s very easy to put together a ‘top 10’ list of cycling jerseys, but I was wary of doing that, because a lot of the jerseys that I really like are not those that, conventionally, are chosen for this sort of project,” he explains.


“The Brooklyn jersey is one that I love and which quite often appears in other people’s top 10, but I’m not crazy about the Peugeot jersey, for example. I see why people like it, but I don’t have one and probably never will have. But then people might say the same thing about the original GreenEdge kit.”


Ah, yes – green. Storey’s favourite colour. The Linda McCartney jersey is another that he might have chosen purely for its hue, but the jerseys in the book have a story as well as a style. Regular readers of our Jersey of the Week column will already appreciate the depth of Storey’s knowledge, and he runs a blog dedicated to the maillot:


By day, he is ably (and aptly) employed at clothing specialist Prendas Ciclismo, and by evenings and weekends, a BSc student of computing with the Open University, in the small windows of time left by a young family.


He wrote the Art of the Jersey in logical fashion: submitting each chapter to the publisher for proofing, before moving on to the next. The jerseys are ordered chronologically, beginning with a pre-1970s collection classified as ‘the early years’, before moving into chapters dedicated to the ‘80s, ‘90s, and noughties, continuing to the present day.


Highlights for this writer include (with apologies to Storey) Peugeot’s checkerboard design and La Vie Claire’s Mondrian-inspired print. The jerseys are presented equally and without prejudice across the Art of the Jersey’s 224 pages.


“I don’t like classifying things as bad or good,” Storey concludes. “Let people make up their own minds. If you don’t like it, I don’t mind, but I’d rather not prescribe what I think is the best.”


A jersey with a hint of green is likely to gain his good opinion, however. The GreenEdge jersey, pre-Orica, earns his seal of approval. “But my favourites are not necessarily somebody else’s,” he adds, with a grin.


Personal taste is, to a large degree, immaterial with the Art of the Jersey, however. With more than 200 maillots included, from the Moldovan national champion’s tunic, to the timeless mauve tricot of Reynolds Aluminio, there is much to enjoy.


The Art of the Jersey is published in hardback on May 5, 2016 by Mitchell Beazley, and costs £15.99. It is available to order from Amazon and from Prendas Ciclismo.

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