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"Boutique" Brands

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"Boutique" Brands

Old 09-03-14, 09:44 AM
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"Boutique" Brands

Let's get an idea on what brands do riders consider "boutique"? In the cycling (and automotive) industry boutique brands are names only found on products "all about the ride". Most of what they make is probably race-worthy, but it doesn't put stiffness:weight on the top of their priorities. So even though, Felt, Specialized, & Trek have Ferrari-like bikes, they don't apply here because of the brand's whole range of a lineup. (And sorry, but the weight:stiffness:aero factors go before ride quality on those models).

What brands click in your head when I say "boutique"?

Colnago & Cervelo come to my mind first.
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Old 09-03-14, 09:45 AM
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My "boutique" bike is a Cinelli.
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Old 09-03-14, 09:48 AM
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I think that I have a different idea of what constitutes a boutique brand than you do; I don't think that it has anything to do with performance w/r/t racing.
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Old 09-03-14, 09:54 AM
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Old 09-03-14, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I think that I have a different idea of what constitutes a boutique brand than you do; I don't think that it has anything to do with performance w/r/t racing.
I'm pretty sure what you're thinking of is more fashion oriented? Like Waterford and Merlin, or Soma on a lower price-point?

How I define boutique brand is what it's known as inside the industry (I work in it), and I'm sure all of the brands that fall under this category sponsor a team on some level.

Think of a car brand-name that's only on cars that make people's head turn because "Wow, I bet that's a beauty to drive. And I wonder how fast it goes!" (Aston Martin Vanquish & Porsche 911) instead of "Wow, I bet that's a beauty to drive. And I wonder how smooth it rides!" (Mercedes S-Class & Jaguar XJ)

Last edited by IcySmooth52; 09-03-14 at 10:09 AM. Reason: Added analogy to help with what I mean by this thread.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by tony2v View Post
+1. That's 'boutique' to me. Super rare, custom, artistic. Baum, Kelson, etc.

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Old 09-03-14, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by IcySmooth52 View Post
I'm pretty sure what you're thinking of is more fashion oriented?
No, that's not what I'm exclusively thinking of. Any brand that caters to a limited or specialty audience is what I would consider to be a boutique brand. Racing-oriented would be one of many such audiences, but by no means would it be the only one. I would consider a company like Linus to be a boutique brand, too, because they cater to a certain user group - those looking for certain functionality with a retro flair.

Originally Posted by IcySmooth52 View Post
How I define boutique brand is what it's known as inside the industry (I work in it), and I'm sure all of the brands that fall under this category sponsor a team on some level.
Then why ask if you're not looking for a perspective other than your own?
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Old 09-03-14, 10:16 AM
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My favorite botique brand is Time.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by IcySmooth52 View Post
How I define boutique brand is what it's known as inside the industry (I work in it), and I'm sure all of the brands that fall under this category sponsor a team on some level.
Can you elaborate on what exactly this industry-standard definition of "boutique" is? It sounds like you are trying to say it is a small brand with products that put performance secondary to... ride?
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Old 09-03-14, 10:19 AM
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I like to think my Van Dessel is in the neighborhood of boutique.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by IcySmooth52 View Post
Think of a car brand-name that's only on cars that make people's head turn because "Wow, I bet that's a beauty to drive. And I wonder how fast it goes!" (Aston Martin Vanquish & Porsche 911) instead of "Wow, I bet that's a beauty to drive. And I wonder how smooth it rides!" (Mercedes S-Class & Jaguar XJ)
I gotta give a +1 to WhyFi here, especially after you added the language I quoted above. Why ask for our thoughts but then instruct us on how to think? Just write a blog...
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Old 09-03-14, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Phantoj View Post
Can you elaborate on what exactly this industry-standard definition of "boutique" is? It sounds like you are trying to say it is a small brand with products that put performance secondary to... ride?
It's brands that certainly have a focus on performance (and usually racing), but they want a bike that's about the 'feel' too. Pinarello is probably a name that'll apply to most people's perspective.

It's not necessarily small brand companies either. Usually it's actually just a brand owned by the same parent company as the bigger brand. A good example would be Kestrel, because it's apart of Advanced Sports International, and ASI's "major" brand would be Fuji.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:38 AM
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I have a Viner and a Macario - definitely boutique.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:41 AM
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Pretty sure a "boutique" brand isn't going to be sponsoring a team.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
No, that's not what I'm exclusively thinking of. Any brand that caters to a limited or specialty audience is what I would consider to be a boutique brand. Racing-oriented would be one of many such audiences, but by no means would it be the only one. I would consider a company like Linus to be a boutique brand, too, because they cater to a certain user group - those looking for certain functionality with a retro flair.

Then why ask if you're not looking for a perspective other than your own?
Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
I gotta give a +1 to WhyFi here, especially after you added the language I quoted above. Why ask for our thoughts but then instruct us on how to think? Just write a blog...
I'm not looking for a fight, I'm looking for a conversation. It's interesting to me what names people will bring up, and if people mention the custom builders, sure! I haven't told anyone that a brand they've mentioned isn't "boutique". (Good thing nobody's mentioned Magna though). I've just replied to posts asking about what my perspective is.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:42 AM
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If you can afford it, it isn't boutique.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:49 AM
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Old 09-03-14, 10:51 AM
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Okay then, I'm not looking for a fight either. My opinion is that anything available on bikesdirect and/or at a steep discount (like Kestrel) is not boutique. And any brand that is large enough to sponsor a team (like Cervelo) isn't really boutique either. Their RS with Sram Rival a year or two ago was very mainstream. I guess my working definition includes some points for rarity. Viner and Time were good examples. I think Ridley is taking a major image slide because of their availability and pricing via Performance, but I'm sure they weighed that out vs. the increased sales.
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Old 09-03-14, 10:55 AM
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Old 09-03-14, 11:01 AM
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I rarely think of many bike brands as "boutique". I do think several cycling clothing brands are "boutique". Maybe it's just the fact that I explore Instagram and follow a slew of low-volume, high-price tag, fashionable, work-horse cycling clothing brands. I think of most of these as Boutique. Especially with some charging $325 for their entry bib shorts.

That being said, I can't help but be curious about all of these brands. Although, I know I will never ride in some of their apparel. I simply won't pay $325 for a pair of bib shorts with how much I can ride and my income.

-Rapha
-Brandt-Sorenson
-Search and State
-q36_5
-Jaggad
-Fyxo
-Fiasco Cicilsmo

The last few I wouldn't consider so boutique in terms of lofty prices. Just not as well known, but still luxurious. Don't think that means I don't like the looks of these brands. I almost bought some Jaggad bibs on sale and was nearly checked-out until I saw the price of shipping from Australia to the USA.
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Old 09-03-14, 11:06 AM
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To me, a boutique brand for anything would be characterized by high quality and highly effective devices for the job at hand. There is also more than a passing nod at aesthetics and little desire to be a volume manufacturer.

I think Tom Ritchey's bikes would qualify. His frames are not built in volume and are really intended to address a high focused need with a high quality and effective tool. He's not trying to be Giant or Trek.

Others come to mind like Parlee, Moots, Calfee, Dean, etc.
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Old 09-03-14, 11:09 AM
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Moots, Seven, Parlee, IF and others like them are boutique brands.

A boutique is a small shopping outlet, especially one that specializes in elite and fashionable items.
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Old 09-03-14, 01:11 PM
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Seems like OPs definition of "boutique" involves a high-degree of being "purpose-built" for a single market (often, though not necessarily, racing). If that's the case, I'll play:
Santana
Brompton
Paketa
Co-Motion
Moulton
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Old 09-03-14, 01:18 PM
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Enough already. OP is looking for validation of "cool" brands that aren't Trek, Speci and Giant.
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Old 09-03-14, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
Okay then, I'm not looking for a fight either. My opinion is that anything available on bikesdirect and/or at a steep discount (like Kestrel) is not boutique. And any brand that is large enough to sponsor a team (like Cervelo) isn't really boutique either. Their RS with Sram Rival a year or two ago was very mainstream. I guess my working definition includes some points for rarity. Viner and Time were good examples. I think Ridley is taking a major image slide because of their availability and pricing via Performance, but I'm sure they weighed that out vs. the increased sales.
I agree. Cervelo certainly isn't boutique.
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