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You might not realise you’re wearing a truly great base layer when you reach the top of an alpine pass this summer.
But wait — you will soon.
As the wind rushes by you on the descent, hairpin after hairpin with the altitude dropping, you’ll be hit by the gratifying realisation that, contrary to experience, you’re not cold. The sweat has dried, evaporated into the great outdoors, leaving no trace on your skin. You let go of the brakes and coast the rest of the descent.
Though tubular seamless knits have been used to construct base layers for some time, our Advanced Creative Design Centre knew they wanted to do things differently for the all-new Skin Layer platform.
“It’s no news to anyone that starting with a base layer is essential,” begins Ribo, the driving force behind this new generation. “They might look like simple products, but it has taken us two years to develop this collection and really build upon what existed in the ASSOS wardrobe. When we started the Skin Layer project, we were trying to find the ultimate fibres and construction that would result in a lower weight, more breathability, and better ergonomics. We wanted to shake up our current collection with something groundbreaking.”
Over the past decade, Ribo has worked up to the role of Head Development Officer and knows a thing or two about innovative, bespoke fabrics. “This was our first time working with a new supplier in Italy and we were very particular about our needs — especially when it comes to breathability and levels of elasticity. We first began working with seamless knits in 2012 when we launched our skinFoil generation of base layers, so we were in a good position to begin with. Knowing that elastane hinders moisture management, we set about refining the construction of the high performance pieces, ensuring elasticity without the use of elastane. As sweating will be inevitable, these ultralight summer iterations utilize an exclusive blend of polypropylene and carbon. The purpose of the woven-in carbon is to increase the anallergic, antibacterial effects, and be even quicker-drying; in fact, we selected the fastest-drying fibre on the market.”
It took months of experimentation until the right fibres and weights were defined. From this point on, the team began engineering the structure, defining the sizing, and finalising the graphics. “We’ve digitalised a lot of our processes at ASSOS, which really helped the suppliers,” adds Ribo, who visited the Italian production facilities throughout the process. As we talk, he toys with the Skin Layer in his hands and gestures at the iconic Ellipse logo: “Who’d have thought that the placement of this oval shape, or even the microfibre label, would add more hurdles?”
To give an idea of the complexity, the Skin Layer collection consists of 3+1 (summer/springFall/Winter/Winter ULTRAZ) seasonally appropriate designs for men and women respectively, coming in four sizes for men and three for women. Production is not an easy process: the meticulously calibrated yarns are knitted on seamless tubular knitting machines, with each individual model taking 2–3 hours, followed by washing cycles to remove shrinkage. After each size, the machines have to be reset. For the first time, ASSOS introduces women’s-specific Skin Layers, with noteworthy touches to the women’s line including contouring on the sides and a raglan-sleeve construction.
Functional with an understated offbeat design and seasonal colour-coding, the Skin Layers are designed to do everything they can to streamline your performance, without any distractions. “It’s in our DNA,” explains Ribo, holding up the Skin Layer from all angles: “We’ve always gravitated towards performance over trends. These are subtle in their design but there’s a reason behind the minimal look: printing on fibres like this would impact the performance and they simply wouldn’t be as quick-drying. The colour-coding of this line from the neck down will come in useful when you’re heading out for a ride in a hurry.”
Another major topic is fit, an area we’re confident we’ve succeeded in. Box-fresh Skin Layers will feel tight, but that’s how they function best. Ribo comments that Skin Layers mark a new era for athletes of all disciplines: “These are made by cyclists, for cyclists, but we know that our riders practice other sports. For the winter iterations we’ve utilized a wool blend for the first time, which will be really appreciated by athletes of all sports during cold spells. You don’t have to be a cyclist to wear a Skin Layer; they’re a viable option for cross-country skiing, running, or hiking. “We’ve engineered them with a high insulating power so that they maintain the body’s thermal balance without ever generating or dispersing too much heat,” he explains, gesturing at the distinctive blue Ultraz Skin Layer lying beside him––ready for below-zero temperatures.
With no shortage of competition on the market from base layer specialists, Ribo is confident that the Skin Layers will find their place in the peloton. “The riders at NTT Pro Cycling have been wearing them since the start of 2020 and we’ve had constant input throughout from our roadLab test team, consisting of experienced ex-pros.”
But for now, with the sun out across Europe, this means one thing: summery rides in soaring temperatures.
And Ribo knows exactly which model to suggest: summer Skin Layer 1.3. In fact, he hasn’t taken his off since the product arrived at HQ and the temperature soared in Southern Switzerland — “it’s just too comfortable,” he laughs.
Find out which model is best for you by heading straight to the Skin Layer collection.
ACDC care tip: Given the physical characteristics of the fibres, the Skin Layers are best washed at a low temperature with a minimal amount of detergent. The ASSOS Active Wash is intended for precisely this purpose; as it’s anallergic, it’s ideal for those with sensitive skin.