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Noted designer Alexander Julian returns to the bike world with Defeet

Published September 20, 2018

RENO, Nev. (BRAIN) — Alexander Julian is one of the best-known American designers, known for his Colours brand and his wardrobe designs for TV shows and movies. Less known is that Julian has long ties to bicycle retailing: In the 1930s his father ran Julian's Cyclery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, before opening a well-known haberdashery.


"I was the lucky kid who never had a problem getting his bike fixed," Julian told BRAIN at Interbike this week.

Even as he developed a global reputation in design, Julian has retained a connection to cycling, athletics and North Carolina, where he still lives. In 1988 he designed the trend-setting teal and purple uniforms for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and later designed uniforms for the University of North Carolina Tarheels.

Now Julian has designed a line of items with North Carolina's Defeet, best known for its socks. Defeet (Booth 2619) has applied Julian patterns, including some argyle designs, to underlayer jerseys and socks. One new sock design is based on a men's tie pattern Julian once designed.

Defeet uses sublimation to bring the patterns to high-tech materials, sometimes creating odd optical illusions. Defeet owner Shane Cooper was wearing a high-tech sleeveless underlayer over his shirt Tuesday that, from inches away, looked like a knitted wool sweater vest.

It's all about bringing some much-needed style to athletic wear, Julian said.

"I'm the Johnny Appleseed of fashion," Julian said Tuesday. "I'm sort of the guy who brought sportswear into sport."

Julian, who has designed cycling jerseys for Chapel Hill-based Performance Bicycle in the past, was walking Interbike this week looking for opportunities to bring his design sense to more items.

"We're looking at helmets, pedals, chains, tires, whole bikes," he said.

Editor's note: A version of this story appears in BRAIN's Interbike Show Daily, Day 3. 


Julian (left) with Defeet founder and president Shane Cooper

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