Old Tech, Modern Thinking

Old Tech, Modern Thinking

When I lived in Los Angeles, there were a number of used clothing stores that carried old-school Merino-wool jerseys. I had friends for whom combing through such racks was a hobby, the way riffling the stacks of a record store might be for others of us. I grew quickly frustrated with the quest for a couple of reasons.

First, I rarely found anything like my size. Second, they often charged $60 or $80, making it a real purchase. Third, not all of them were in great shape. Fourth is a bit of a redux of the first point. On those uncommon occasions when I found jerseys big enough around for my torso, they were often long enough to serve as a mini-dress. And when they were an appropriate length for my midsection, they were snug enough to be mistaken for a corset. Fifth, the four-inch, metal zipper. I cut my nose on one.

What this add up to is yet another example of how I may profess my love for the late ’60s Mustangs or VW buses, but I don’t actually want to own one. I want a good sound system, anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, sculpted seats, emissions controls and an airbag or 16.

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A few years back I reviewed a wool jersey from the outfit Wabi Woolens. It was nice enough but hungry for some style. I ended up using it mostly as a middle layer between a base layer and a jacket.

The jersey featured here is another offering from Portland-based Wabi Woolens. The Chevron LS is the best of both worlds. This is a classic knit Merino, but with a full zipper and with sleeves that are longer than the body of the jersey so that the pockets sit at the small of your back rather than somewhere below your butt cheeks. There also a zippered security pocket.

Within Wabi’s line, the Chevron LS is part of the sport series of long sleeve jerseys. This is a lighter Merino than Wabi’s winter weight, making it perfect for cool, but not frigid days. I’ve ridden it into the upper 40s with only a short sleeve base layer. The long-snug cuffs and high color were pretty handy as I raced the sun home. Unlike the previous jersey I reviewed, this one features a full zip, which makes pulling it on a good deal easier, not to mention easier to ventilate.

Unlike the poly-blended Merinos from some manufacturers, this is a classic spun Merino at a 250 gram/meter². The fiber is sourced from Australia, but otherwise the jersey is produced—spun, knit, dyed and sewn—in Portland. This is a small operation focused on quality; I’m unsurprised by the $195 price. It’s entirely justified, especially when you consider that all their clothing is small-batch production; this was limited to 50 jerseys.

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I’m usually impressed when a manufacturer will offer six sizes in men’s jerseys. It’s rare, but it happens. Wabi offers nine sizes (yes nine). There’s small, medium, large, XL, XXL and 3XL, but they also offer a medium-tall, a large-tall and an XL-tall. These would be for folks who don’t qualify as HWP on Tinder.

In Wabi’s copy, they mention that the way the jersey is made that it will relax by an inch in both the sleeve length and torso length, so purchase with that growth in mind. They say that post construction the fabric relaxes slightly. As a result, I went for a small jersey and it’s a great fit. It was pretty form-following my first three rides, but it’s just beginning to relax a bit.

I’ve looked this thing up one side and down the other. The stitching is impeccable and utterly deliberate. It looks like it came out of a tailor’s shop.

Final thought: All the upsides to Merino with none of the downsides to antique.


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7 comments

  1. Ev

    Seems like a great jersey – So far Vulpine (GB) is the only company I’ve seen with a similar cut. I’d love to see some offerings for women on their site – or a few size XS.

    1. Harth Huffman

      Harth here from Wabi. I have a women’s version ready for production, but can’t finance it quite yet. I am hoping for spring. I’m glad to hear of the interest.

      Padraig, thanks for the review. I am glad you appreciated the design and the quality of the jersey. I do want to mention the fabric was knit and dyed on the east coast, not in Portland. There are no facilities for that here. I am sorry if the wording on the website was misleading in any way.


    2. Author
      Padraig

      No worries. Depending on where on the East Coast, it might be almost as hip(ster). 😉

      More seriously, I think what matters to our readers is how much of the jersey’s production can be credited to the U.S., so on that score you’re safe. (But I could be wrong. It happens four or five times a day.)

      That women’s jersey sounds like a great Kickstarter project.

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