Founded in Italy during the 1960s, Brancale dominated the international cycling apparel market during the latter half of the 20th century thanks to the success of a few key products. The brand’s cycling shoes were made famous by American cyclist Greg LeMond, winner of the 1986 and 1990 Tour de France, while the leather “hairnet”-style cycling helmet was favoured by professional cyclists to prevent surface injury. The 1970s saw a rise in recreational cycling, and with it, more serious safety precautions—in the decades that followed, the hard-shell helmet was introduced and became the primary choice for cyclists. Despite the popularity of its historic products, the company was unable to sustain itself during the boom of the North American market, and so the brand closed its doors in the late 1990s.
In December 2014, however, long-time Brancale devotee Ben Gardner stepped in to revitalize the cycling darling with an all new range of products that still honoured Brancale’s tradition of artisanal craftsmanship. He moved the company overseas to Washington, D.C. The now Italian-American company has left leather helmets in the past in favour of modern leather cycling gloves, which are hand-cut and sewn in England by a small family-run glove making business that has been in operation since the 1940s. “In a way, the relaunch of Brancale is sort of a coming full circle,” says Gardner. “Back in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, all of Brancale’s products were made in Italy … Rather than mass producing our products at a low cost, we are focusing on smaller quantities produced by skilled craftspeople.”
Brancale’s gloves come in two designs: classic fingerless and a winter model, complete with fleece lining for sub-zero conditions. Both are available in four sizes and composed of top-grade sheep leather with padding to absorb road shock.
Adding to its modern arsenal, Brancale also offers cycling jerseys and bib shorts made in northern Italy, as well as merino wool socks and arm warmers made in the United States. With European roots and a desire to keep improving, Brancale is living the American Dream.