In a predominantly male-led industry, Peppermint Cycling Co. has always focused exclusively on women’s apparel that helps active women enjoy the benefits and fun of cycling.
Unlike many cycling apparel brands, the Quebec-based company hasn’t simply added a women’s range to their standard offering—the pieces are designed from the ground up to fit the diverse body types of women taking on cycling adventures. Through every collection the brand puts out, the kit style evolves and the collections grow. According to Catherine Langelier, Head Designer at Peppermint, the design process is always ongoing and always centers the voices of female cyclists.
From the small design unit to the freelance artists that are brought in, the Peppermint team is composed entirely of women. “Our goal is really to put women in front,” says Langelier. “Let’s say we need to make a print, we’re going to look for a woman that can do our print for us. If they’re a cyclist, that’s even better.”
“The design process is a team process,” she says. “You really need to put your ego on the side and just sit at a table and listen to the ideas and problems of other women and think about how you can make it work—it’s really fun.”
When planning out a new collection, the team sits down with female cyclists to start thinking about what the brand can bring to them and what needs to be improved. Many of these cyclists are Peppermint ambassadors, who provide feedback and their suggestions to the brand.
“We’re always thinking more and more about women’s specific needs,” says Langelier. Subtle elements such as the length of a jersey sleeve, the thickness of a shammy or the quality of a band are all meticulously inspected.
Like many Peppermint employees, Langelier is a cyclist herself. She’s been cycling for as long as she can remember—rain or shine she commutes to the office by bike.
She’ll often head out for a spin herself to test out some of the prototype bibs she’s working on, testing to see how the fit works with her body. “I’ve tried so many bibs in my life, and sometimes you can tell it’s just made for men,” she says. “We always think about things like, ‘is there going to be enough space for the hips?’ and ‘how will it sit on the back?’”
Peppermint is looking to expand the type of kit it offers. “We started with the road but now want to be more versatile,” says Langelier. “I think more women are looking for adventure—we want to ride on the hills and we want to go on the gravel.”
For off-the-bike, the brand also maintains a mellow collection of pre/post-ride athletic-style clothing.
Peppermint is known for its colourful kit, something which Langelier says the brand isn’t planning on changing any time soon. “Looking at some other products on the market, sometimes I have the feeling that everything is black,” she jokes.
While the colours and patterns are vibrant and fun, the brand still aims to give cyclists the option to have a coherent and matching look. Since 2019, Peppermint has created ‘colour stories’ to go with its eye-catching releases. Kit is slotted into different categories by colour and style, and cyclists can confidently mix and match within the colour stories, knowing that the different pieces of kit will have a uniform vibe.
The colours aren’t just chosen at random—the team spends time researching colour trends in cycling gear and athletic accessories such as bike frames, helmets, bottles and shoes. Langelier notes that many cyclists like to have their gear and kit matching, or at least not clashing.
For the upcoming unreleased Spring ‘22 collection Peppermint will be taking its colour stories even further, with different categories within its road, mountain and gravel ranges. Colour stories will reflect some of the traits Peppermint sees in its customers: resilience, confidence, independence and more. The colours are matched to the attributes they evoke, and each colour story is given a distinct personality. “It’s interesting how we worked the colours this season. We thought of peppermint as a group of women, and we tried to identify the different personalities for each of them,” says Langelier. “It really brings the whole collection together.”