willy shutt was born in hulsberg, netherlands in 1911, only son of a blacksmith, and graduated through life to become somewhat of a successful cyclist, earning a crust in local races and across the borders in germany and belgium. he took part in the paris-roubaix race in 1936 at the age of twenty-five, then rode in the tour de france the following year, though there is no record of his performance and he seems not to have appeared in the final results in the parc des prince, paris. whatever took place during or after that tour, willy moved to the unlikely location of ilkley in west yorkshire, where he employed several of the local seamstresses in the construction of cycling apparel (the jerseys for vin denson's pelforth team were supplied by shutt). not all shutt's clothing ventures were entirely successful; one of the heavier weight jackets produced for the colder months was deemed to be a positive liability in terms of weight, despite the slogan shutt for the winter. some shops still display this sign in their window.
shutt cycle clothing prospered for many years after the second world war, but faded towards the end of the seventies when willy shutt's health started failing as he entered his twilight years. this loss of direction led to the company's demise - still run pretty much as it had been in the early 1940s - after failing to adapt to the modern, man-made fabrics that have now all but taken over as the fabric du jour. willy died of old age in 1992, by which time the company had all but disappeared from the horizon. (the photograph above is the only surviving picture of willy shutt during the 1937 tour de france. he is the one left of centre of the picture wearing a shutt monikered jersey)
along comes 2009, and simon warren and partner alex raistrick felt it was time to resurrect the all but forgotten shutt brand, using the modern equivalent of the very materials willy had been too short sighted to let go of. and while the appropriation of local seamstresses is no longer a practical consideration, the new range of shutt cycle clothing is made entirely in britain using a fabric known as drywool. similar to its counterpart sportwool, this consists of a layer of merino wool bonded to an outer layer of polyester, manufactured by clovertec fabrics based in lancashire, england allowing a comfortable, breathable fabric more than suitable for use in a cycle jersey which is, in fact, made in cleckheaton.
shutt velo rapide sent a long-sleeve, shutt no. 8 (all of shutt's jerseys are identified by a number) olive green and black jersey for a holiday on islay, just the very place for an end of the classics road test. despite claims that the jerseys are a loose fit, the medium sent was actually a reasonably close fit, very much in its favour, with long sleeves that more than adequately fitted that description - in fact on my longer than average arms, the cuffs began to encroach on the back of my hands: ruddy brilliant. the cuffs are a very close fit, as are the arms, the fabric of which seems of a slightly different knit than the body.
i find the colourway slightly puzzling, with the collar, cuffs, back and side panels in damn near an ardbeg green, while the front and sleeves are black. i'd have liked to have seen the entire jersey in the ardbeg green with contrasting black collar and cuffs (the no.8 jersey can also be had in light blue and black). browsing through the other designs on the shutt website, some of the other colourways seem similarly ill at ease with themselves, but this is purely subjective, and has no bearing on the jerseys performance: the colours themselves are plenty fine, just the combinations that seem a trifle odd. however, odd is probably good.
the quarter length zip stops just short of the top of the short collar, thereby avoiding that cut myself shaving look. the fit of the jersey is very good indeed as is the quality. however, a small degree of willy shutt's myopia still prevails, as the jersey bears no fourth, zipped pocket at the rear, something i don't think it's too much to expect on a modern cycle jersey. and inexplicably, the narrower centre pocket bears a velcro closure tab at the top. i found it quite awkward to gain access to this pocket when on the bike, though that could be total ineptitude on my part. that said, the pockets do manage to consume a substantial amount of stuff, something the modern cyclist seems to carry masses of these days (or is that just me?)
there's a very neat multi coloured strip embroidered along the top edge of the pockets, and a reflective tab below the centre, while the dropped tail is held in place by a ribbed rubbery soft-grip strip along the rear hem, a feature that works very well even when rummaging amongst the stuff in the pockets while riding. willy shutt would have been proud.
shutt jerseys also offer the option of bespoke jerseys which they are happy to design in conjunction with your own ideas and colours (subject to availability). plans are afoot to offer shorts too and shutt velo rapide will be sponsors of this year's white rose challenge sportive in the yorkshire dales.
the shutt no. 8 long-sleeve jersey retails at a wallet pleasing £70 ($102), while their short sleeve jerseys range from £60 ($88) and £65 ($95).
posted on saturday april 25 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................