Matt Quann’s small and simple showroom occupies the first floor of an Edwardian architectural building in San Francisco CA. Quaint and cozy, the open-floor studio mirrors a scene similar to a tech startup: craft coffee brewing in the background, Kendrick Lamar bumping through the speakers, and discussions of a product launch buzzing from wall to wall. All of this for his minimalistic biking apparel brand, Ornot. Maybe you have heard of it… Ornot.
Inside the showroom, inspirational magazines and apparel can be found intricately placed, enhancing the look and feel of this well-designed environment. Since founding Ornot in 2013, Matt has built a reputation in San Francisco’s Cycling community, for producing some of the highest quality biking apparel on the market.
Matt’s love for cycling started at an early age: “I was inspired by Greg Lemond’s cycling career in the late 80’s … at a time when NBC would only air 15 minutes of the Tour de France — I took advantage and enjoyed every second of it,” Matt says. It was then, the Milwaukee-born native began his journey into the cycling world. At the age of 16, Matt landed a job at a local bike shop, a way to gain experience and fund his passion.
However, in the mid 90s, Matt left College to pursue a new interest in digital design, a move that would launch his career in tech. In his words, “After dropping out of college, I moved out to Massachusetts to join a tech startup.” The way we see it, this stint in design and tech shaped Matt’s approach towards designing for Ornot; modern, simple, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing – overall, enhancing the UX of wearing this gear.
Over the next 10 years of his life, Matt moved from Massachusetts to Seattle in support of his Wife’s goal to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Washington. Eventually, he and his wife planted roots in San Francisco, where they started a family.
In 2013, Matt ditched the corporate life at Yahoo and sought the help of Justin Sorensen (Chappeau designer of Crooked Beak Caps) and Nicholaus Barresi (Art Designer and former Mission Workshop contributor) to launch their own product. The result, Ornot — a Swiss inspired cycling apparel company focused on a simple, clean, grid-based approach — fixated on pure aesthetics.
Though wear-ability and garment structure is key for the team at Ornot, responsible manufacturing is equally essential. All of Ornot’s gear is designed in San Francisco and manufactured across the United States. And while this does increase costs over foreign production, the team takes pride in maintaining a sustainable and responsible business.
The Ornot Spring Collection
The newest collection for spring/summer 18 is about bringing a new element to the table. “We surveyed and tested over 80 different swatches, and fell in love with a micro-mesh twill,” says Matt. The result? A new House Jersey and House Bib designed for optimal visibility, breathability and comfort. Demanding a better fitting jersey for all shapes and sizes, the design team chose a synthetic blend of polyester and elastane, and it can be found throughout the entire line. The resulting composition is a malleable layer that molds to the body like a second skin — no drag, no bunching up.
The Ornot design philosophy emulates the nautical alphabet. Matt confesses this a less than rational methodology, “I just like the patterns” is all the reasoning we need to buy into his vision. All aboard!
Despite the recent rise in popularity and exposure throughout the bike industry, Matt and his team maintain a calm and cool confidence. The trio are always “all ears” to feedback on their gear, open to new product ideas, new features, or ways to make Ornot’s products even more enjoyable. All in all, Matt’s vision isn’t to compete with the big-name bike companies. He simply (like all entrepreneurs) wants to see his company thrive within its space. And along the way, watch people enjoy themselves wearing Ornot apparel while riding their bikes.
Written by Gearminded contributor: Aaron Tirazona