Inside Maloja - Creating Clothing With a Difference

Mar 5, 2015
by Matt Wragg  
Driving up to Maloja's headquarters you realise they are going to do things a little differently. The truth is that most of the time when you go to a company's offices they are grey, industrial buildings somewhere. There's good reason for that - industrial units are practical and affordable. So when you turn off the main road and turn up the lane to Maloja and find yourself climbing towards an old, wood-beamed farmhouse the natural reaction is apprehension, waiting to turn a corner and see the grey concrete block hiding behind the trees somewhere. That moment never comes. As you pull outside the wooden-beamed farmhouse, straight out of a Visit Bavaria postcard it's clear that they aren't like most companies.

bigquotes We could be two or three times bigger than we are, but money isn't the most important thing to me.


Peter, founder

Founded ten years ago when founder, Peter, became fed up with the mountain bike clothing on the market at the time, they emerged from a time in our sport when the options available to riders were limited, at best. Today we are accustomed to most clothing companies offering a full range of kit to cater to whatever style of riding takes your fancy, but back then it was either horrific lycra or shameless moto derivatives. When Peter decided he could make something better himself, he realised he needed some help. He was sure he could produce the clothing, but he wanted advice on running a business. Some years before he had met Klaus, who at the time was working in finance, and from their first meeting he knew that he was someone who would be able to help him realise his ambitions. So he stored him in his phone as "Klaus Future", a name he is still saved as today. With his idea for Maloja he met Klaus and explained his plan, and asked Klaus if he would help give him advice on how to run a business. Klaus, however, refused. He looked Peter in the eye and told him, "I do not want to advise you. I want to be your partner in this." And so Maloja was born. In those ten years they have forged their own path; sticking to a unique, distinctive style for their clothing; trying to keep the quality high and bring production back from Asia to Europe; striving to uphold the highest environmental standards; putting a focus on design that is maybe unmatched in mountain bike clothing. Their headquarters on a farm is simply another symptom of their desire to run the type of business they are passionate about, one that clearly doesn't put profit ahead of their beliefs.



Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
  Admit it, we'd all like to work in an office that looks like this...

Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Inside it just gets better too - the old barn offers high ceilings that open the space up to the light. Their desire to minimise the environmental impact lead to them refusing to buy any new furniture for the new office (except for a few Ikea bookcases for storage), it all came from flea markets and the German equivalent of the Salvation Army, or in some cases was made from wood that used to be parts of the barn.

Maloja headquarters visit
The biggest part of the building is the design area, and for good reason. With 18 designers working for them they have what they are confident they have the largest design team in mountain biking working on their range. To put it into perspective, many of the more well-known brands in our sport may only have a couple of people working on their whole collection. Part of the reason for needing so many people is that they do not carry clothing over from previous years - with each collection they start from a clean slate. When Peter says he that money is not the most important thing, you can see that ethos in practice here. If he employed fewer people and carried lines over he could without doubt increase profitability, but it is not the way he chooses to do things.

Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
On the upstairs of the design area the creatives, who produce the designs, graphics and colour schemes for each collection. Unlike many mountain bike industry companies, Maloja doesn't just attract people who have only ever follow bicycles, the design team includes people who have worked for companies as diverse as Vivienne Westwood and BMW. It is clear that Peter is still a very active part of the design process too, staying very hands-on in producing Maloja's collections.



Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Downstairs the emphasis switches to getting the clothing made. Sven undoubtedly has one of the hardest jobs in Maloja - he is responsible for the material they use and the colours those materials are dyed. Some of his responsibilities are obvious, like testing the materials to find out how durable they are, or whether they are as waterproof as the manufacturer claims they are. It is the colours that complicate his life most though, and the difficulty is one many people have probably never considered. When you have a range of clothes using different materials you have to male sure the colours are consistent between the materials, which is no small feat. The composition of a fabric can totally change how it reacts to a dye, so for each fabric the dye has to be formulated specifically to produce the desired colour, or as near as they can get to that colour, and that the colour does not vary under different lighting conditions. This process usually means approaching several suppliers, and with completely new summer and winter collections each year needing every colour and fabric combination to be sourced to the highest possible standard, it's a vast undertaking.

Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Once an item is designed and has been put together from the correctly-sourced materials, fit is the next major concern. It is another meticulous process because every item is fitted at every stage of production - from the prototypes, then the photo samples, the dealer samples and finally the pre-production samples. At each stage the clothing is fitted on models to make sure it hangs in the way it was intended. It is painstakingly measured and checked, then any amendments are noted and sent to the factory for amendment, usually with photos of the changes to make sure there is no language barrier in communicating what they need doing.

Maloja headquarters visit
It may be a bit dated to take out on the trails these days, but this faithful companion is still perfect for looking at how the clothing fits in the saddle.

Maloja headquarters visit
Upstairs is the showroom where Maloja keep their entire range for a year. Here again they do things differently - they invite their dealers to come and view the forthcoming collection and make their order for the following season, those orders help make up their production for the year, they don't hold excess stock and once the dealers have sold their stock those items are gone. On the evidence, this model works well for them. Of the 100 dealers they originally began working with in 2005, they are still with 60 of them and the business continues to grow slowly but steadily to just over 800 dealers in Europe alone.

Maloja headquarters visit
Lunchtime is a big deal at Maloja. When the company started they used to take it in turns each day to cook for each other, but as the company grew they eventually had to concede that this was no longer practical. Today, this lady comes in every day to prepare a freshly cooked meal for staff - when we were there it was Thai-style noodles with chicken and vegetables.

Maloja headquarters visit
One part of lunchtime that has remained unchanged as the company has grown is that they eat together - Peter and Klaus too each day, there is no executive lounge here.

Maloja headquarters visit
Maloja headquarters visit

Maloja headquarters visit
Mr Maloja, Peter (when we were there Klaus was out of the office for the day, so we didn't get to meet him). He's definitely not your archetypal CEO, but anybody who is familiar with Maloja clothing will know that it's not your run-of-the-mill clothing either - it has always stood out from the crowd, just as Peter planned it.

www.maloja.de


51 Comments

  • + 63
 Welcome to the chillest place to work on earth.
  • + 38
 seems to be a cool company..
unfortunately 99% of their costumers are kind of joeys (mostly on liteville 301s) who talk esotheric shit all day long about flow, some mtb skill courses they just booked and wether the sick freeway they just managed to ride down while non-stop braking is rated S3 or S4 on the singletrailskala.
Whenever i see somebody in the woods wearing a full maloja-kit i try to avoid riding with them because they would freak me out within minutes.
  • + 0
 Sorry. Frown
  • + 5
 that´s absolute correct mr ben-p
  • + 1
 MEC seems to be fazing the Majola clothing out,i have a pair of gloves but they ripped on the second use while puttung them on.Not very impressed.
  • + 2
 They were prob 2-3 times the price of the MEC brand gloves too, eh?
  • + 1
 They were more expensive than the MEC brand gloves but those don't really last either.
  • + 0
 The article shows a totally different brand than what I saw in real life, Ben-P put it in words, I totally agree!! So sad they don´t have another rep... I´m still not liking the stuff...
  • + 24
 So much hipster spirit that it hurts
  • + 5
 I don't see hipster. I see creative/designer. big difference
  • + 1
 How can you tell that these guys shower?
  • + 1
 what would give you the impression that they shower?
  • + 3
 Difference between a hipster and a designer
  • + 13
 I was thinking of getting some new TLD or Race Face riding gear for this summer, but the ideas behind this article sold me on Maloja.
I got a few pieces of their kit last summer, and the quality is superb - having great ethics, cool vibes and an interesting story is the make or break for me if everything else is equal.
Now just to hope a good retailer is carrying them (MEC did last few years).
  • + 1
 Well, I just checked MEC webpage, they only show NINE Maloja items

www.mec.ca/shop/?q=maloja
  • + 1
 damn 75$ for a T and no description on it. 75$ for a T and it does not even tell me my feet look big.
  • + 0
 That's Icebreaker territory and i'm sure not nearly as good quality.
  • + 8
 absolutely love this company and have quite a lot of their kit. got to say that i would choose it over TLD any day. it all looks different and you can tell that the materials are top quality. hate me....
  • + 6
 I don't know who this "Klaus" is, but if it's really him who told Mr Maloja to run his buisness like this, this "Klaus" is gold and should give some advices to many companies !
  • + 3
 absolutely - if the market they operate in allows it (and not all do, doing it this way could bankrupt many companies) it's a great way to run a business. better to work for a company like that than a grey bland corporation where you are just a number on a spreadsheet, or considered a cost not an asset
  • - 1
 he is actually black and blue. duh
  • + 4
 I purchased a pair of Maloja shorts 3 years ago and they've been the best pair I own to date. Considering how light and breathable they are, I've yet to tip or tear them. Fantastic stuff guys and keep doing what you're doing.
  • + 6
 I'm not hip enough to wear those...nor do l make enough money.
  • + 3
 I don't think they are hip, a bit to hippie for me, at least the styling. The garments are surely different but to tell the truth i don't think any cycling gear is truly nice like i would wear it off the bike too. The most iconic is rapha. At least graphically their stuff is clean. They did a collaboration with paul smith that was quite nice but oh so unaffordable but otherwise, hmmm. Like there is no concept about how modern cycling/mtb gear has to look to look nice. It's either moto or skate or road/retro road or urban oriented. Just think in a fashion way about it instead of quoting other sports and then make it functional. Maybe Maloja does that but then they quote oilily-style flower power hippies 60s-70s. Bah! It's for german girls. Have Yogi Yamamoto or Comme des Garcons do mtb gear or Raf Simons. Like even all those superexpensive ones like Acre supplies or Kitsbow, material and workmanship top notch but taking 'reduced' to boring. And well TLD and such are just too garish/moto. I really suffer every time i have to buy new stuff to the point that i now take the cheapest that works (usually endura) because money spent on any kind of 'style' is wasted in cycling clothing. For roadies it's easier, they are function over style anyway so don't need to care how you look, just buy assos or those other italian brands that make you look like an alien. Grrr, i am working myself into a rant! Ok maybe giro Alpineduros are ok. Retro and not looking like bike stuff, just some clean outdoor boot. But thats it. Their laced road shoes were also clean but too road-retro for any other use.
  • + 2
 I have the same view as Sontator regarding MTB clothing and fashion. might as well wear a black garbage bag. away from the bike I wouldn't be seen dead in MTB gear. looks like this company has some solid understanding of design, mixed with the practical needs of the apparel and its function on the bike. pity there were no examples of the clothes on show.
  • + 2
 OK, I know Alpinestars and Maloja are not particularly comparable product lines.....buy have a look @ this!

www.pinkbike.com/news/alpinestars-launches-2015-cycling-collection-2015.html

**********Notice how they show pics of their products, and list MSRP's??
  • + 2
 Fancy clothes .... no doubt. Very nice style-line. But like other german Brands (like Nikolai) - they do it with passion and heart in Germany and this means 2x-4x the price for equal or in best case 10% better function and quality compared to the good staff made in China or Taiwan.
  • + 1
 I have one question to the Maloja people and that is: how the hell are you going on with the sizing? All my shirts are L and fit perfectly whereas my shorts are all M, and I have to tighten them at max to hold on my hips. Considering I don't have this size discrepancy with any other brand of sport and non sport I just wondered if you guys all had a (Bavarian Weiß)bier belly? But from the article it doesn't look like. So why??
  • + 1
 Yeah right! My favourite shorts are a Maloja ~2007 model and these bastards SHRINKED! They don't fit me any more - what did you do to them??
  • + 4
 you guys have big problems
  • + 1
 *sigh* Anyone got the irony in my remark? Maybe there is another reason I can't close those shorts any more...
  • + 3
 then start riding your bike (in lycra) until the shorts fit again
seems like you like beer and good food as well :-)
  • + 1
 Great article. I have seen their stuff at MEC but thought they were a company with no soul making biking apparel. After the article I will be checking them out at MEC. Right after I finish writing my comments. Gonna use my Xmas GC!! Btw funky cranks on that bike!
  • + 1
 Kind of funny to see so much money spent in house, while the few items on MEC's website are all produced in different countries. Portugal mainly, but china and Italy as well. Random.
  • + 2
 I have never been so impressed by a company as quickly as reading a short article. As a rider and a product designer I find this company inspiring.
  • + 1
 Had a look @ the online catalog, many items found elsewhere on the site not shown in catalog??.............and not a price to be seen anywhere as far as I could tell? I guess I can't afford it, cuzz I gotta askWink
  • + 1
 Looks like an amazing place to work! These people are obviously very dedicated and it really shows in the product.... I love my Maloja Jersies and Shorts ultra comfortable and functional! Keep it up!
  • + 2
 I wish I saw this article a week ago... I just ordered a bunch of new shorts.
  • + 1
 From where? I ordered stuff from back country a couple years ago but doesn't seem like any places with shipping to USA sell the brand anymore.
  • + 3
 Its a offence to call that "office" Wink
  • + 1
 Like the fact that they also offer some quality 3 layer winter gortex products for pow. Sounds like they are true shredders at heart.
  • + 1
 I'd throw some of that gear on it looks good, I'd get my mates to instagram the heck off me too Smile
  • + 1
 Damn yeah!

Was always impressed by their stuff, now:
a) I'm a fan
b) I'm sending my CV in!!
  • + 1
 Are there any distributors in the united states?
  • + 1
 clothes are cool ,they keep me warm .
  • - 1
 Proud to be German right now.
  • + 2
 says the man with an Ozzie flag, I have a wicked jacket from Maloja, they do push out some cool clothing.
  • + 1
 YT-Industries; Canyon Bikes; Maloja Clothing.... Germany has it covered !!!
(But if we are talking tire size..... Fatbike has it covered....)
  • + 5
 not sure why hermstyler as been down voted? Germans can't have a bit of pride!?
  • + 2
 Well I can still be German living in Australia, cant I?

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