In 1970 Giorgio Andretta left Italy and, of all places, found himself headed for Canada.
You see back in the 70’s Giorgio Andretta’s high school team was being organize and run by some former Europeans now living in Canada. And in Canada at the time, access to clothing, bicycles and frames was extremely limited.
Giorgio realized that the limited access offered an opportunity. So he went back to northeastern Italy, the place he calls the cradle and the home of the artisanship of the Italian bicycle industry, and started to import cycling gear to Canada under the name Gita.
Compared to today’s offerings, cycling apparel was a much simpler affair then: Wool jerseys, wool shorts, plus jackets with essentially nylon fronts.
“There was nothing technical about it. It was all two pieces and that was it,” said Giorgio, with a laugh.
In search of something better, the clothing import business turned to making their own custom apparel, drawn from years of racing and know-how.
Things progressed to the point where 1979 Giorgio decided he needed name his growing line, so he named it after his firstborn, Giordana. He also added the Sagittarius logo after her zodiac sign.
Fast forward to 2017, while many apparel companies outsource manufacturing across the globe, Giorgio and Giordana, who is now the Sales Manager of Giordana, invested in their own factory to keep their manufacturing in Italy. They opened the factory in Montecchio, Italy after realizing they just couldn’t get the technical expertise and attention to detail they wanted, after a substantial search in Italy, Eastern Europe, as well as the Far East.
“All this other product that you can find around the world, they look like, they feel like, but they don’t perform like,” said Giorgio.
With his own factory, however, Giorgio is now empowered more than ever to follow his vision for his garments, using speciality fabrics and techniques. From the one-piece 1-on-1 paneling system on their NX-G bib short, to the ability to offer the same ProTour-level FR-C Pro line from their custom program for your local club (Giordana sponsors Orica-Scott and Astana), you’ll know you’re wearing something of quality.
With that in mind, we sat down with the man himself for a chat.
Where do you see cycling apparel down the road in a few years time? Where do you envision it going?
I think it’s got no ends. As innovation, evolution, new material, and everything that is available to us, it just needs somebody to think about what to do and how to do it. Just go to the manufacturer and tell them exactly what they want.
This what I’m able to do in Italy right now. To go to these small manufacturers to create what we want and what we need for each garment. It’s getting better and better.
In the past, we were never, never able to do that. Because you went to a fabric manufacturer and tell them “I want this. That it does this, this, this, and that.” They’ll say, “You crazy? I got a thousand different materials here, you pick from one of the ones I got.”
We can now make something specific. Before it went from one panel to many panels, different material and everything. Now we can go to one panel with one material and get to be able to achieve more than what we achieved with all the material before.
Did you have a background in textile before starting Giordana?
No. I learned it all from getting along and working with different people. I’ve been on and off for 46 years.
That’s a long time in the industry.
It is but if you do something that you like, it’s never hard and it’s always rewarding. I love what I do.
The first thing you would do on your first day as a captain of a pirate ship?
I would never be a pirate. That would be taking ownership of a property that wasn’t yours.
Up hill or down hill?
(Laughs). That’s a good question. When I was young, I loved to climb a lot. I loved the hard gritty races. But now I like downhill.
Favorite place to ride?
There’s a lot of them. The Dolomites are great – I think they are the greatest mountain you can find. They have got some awesome climbs, passes and descents. You can really test your product and get a feel for what a bike can do.
Describe your idea of a perfect holiday:
If I could live in Italy and work in the United States, that would be the perfect life.
What are you most proud about?
I think it’s the achievement that we made. We were able to sponsor athletes from the United States for the Olympics in ’84 where they all won; World championship with Greg LeMond.
Red wine or white wine?
Red. All red. My favorite red wine is Amarone. The next is Tofanelli Charbono.
I like a little bit of everything.
Any hobbies in your free time?
I stay at home with the family when I can. I’m very lucky that both my daughter and son are in the company.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Both. I sleep very little. My sleeping hours are anywhere from four to five hours a night.
What’s your secret for doing this for so long and being so successful?
You have to know how to take and how to give. It’s just like a marriage.