This article was produced in association with Megmeister
“We have to look after the world which is our playground for the sports we love, so why would you wear a polyester jersey that will go to landfill for the next 500 years?”
That was Vanessa Ruiterman’s answer when GravelBikes.Online asked why she and her husband, Jos Ruiterman, established Megmeister, a Dutch cycling clothing brand that aspires to make the world’s best cycling gear while reducing its environmental impact, a commitment integrated into all aspects of the Ruitermans’ approach. to the creation of clothing for cyclists.
However, they don’t follow in the footsteps of other cycling clothing brands when it comes to manufacturing and sustainability. Instead, the pair have forged their own path, redesigning and creating clothing from the ground up with the goal of improving what’s already on the market through unique threads and technologies.
A deeply rooted story
Jos has been in the textile industry for over two decades and has seen first hand how industry giants innovate and produce their clothing. But it was the lace industry that first brought him from the Netherlands to Nottingham, where he worked in a factory working with the fine and delicate fabric, supplying lace to British companies such as fashion retailer Marks & spencer After two years, however, the factory closed, and Jos found work working for another company that made sportswear.
As a sports lover himself, Jos found himself in his element, helping to find ways for the company to innovate with its fabrics, until he realized he was giving away all his best ideas, and thus stumbled upon the idea of producing a base coat. “I realized that base layers were very universal, so I thought, if I do a really good job with this kind of product, I have a lot of opportunities in the market,” said Jos.
His wife Vanessa added: “You were also disappointed with all the polyester that was used in these products on the market, because it didn’t really work. I just remember you coming home one day and saying, “I want to create the best base coat in the world.”
As Jos had previously worked with fine yarns such as lace, he already had a deep knowledge of knitting machines and how to use yarns and technologies to produce a product that works. They came together, fully committed to their vision, and established Megmeister in 2018. After years of meticulous research and development dedicated to base layer designs, Megmeister base layers are now the flagship product of their range of cycling clothing.
Jos Ruiterman, founder
High level form, function and performance
“I wanted to create the best base layer in the world,” said Jos. “And I figured out how to make it the best. I created a base layer that had no seams, so it fits better. I also wanted it to be the best in terms of comfort, so I used threads that are odorless and super hygienic.I wanted it to be the best in performance because performance is really what a base layer is all about.None of the base layers on the market that are made of polyester work.They claim it but they don’t do”.
With performance at the forefront of design when developing their base layer, Jos and Vanessa created Megmeister’s Drynamo double layer yarn technology. It is designed with two layers of fabric: hydrophobic on the inside and hydrophilic on the outside. This means that when a person starts to sweat, for example, the inner tissue, which does not like moisture, pushes the excess water towards the outer tissue, which is water-loving. This keeps a person’s skin dry despite sweat, thanks to the dual construction and properties of the fabric. The base layer is also made using intelligent warp knit body mapping to allow for extra ventilation where riders need it most, helping to further manage moisture and improve cooling to maintain a stable body temperature.
Jos and Vanessa also wanted to create a base layer that fit like a second skin and decided to make the base layers completely seamless. “Many ‘seamless’ products are made of two tubes, one for the body and one for the arms, which are then sewn together. But our base layers are made from one piece, so there are no seams , no movement restrictions and no waste,” said Vanessa.
To create their seamless base layer, they used a machine that other brands don’t use. Jos explained that other manufacturers’ base layers are made with a cylindrical machine, which is the size of the body, which weaves the thread and forms the body of the garment and then the sleeves, which are then sewn and ‘secure the seams to ensure they don’t unravel. However, the machine used to make Megmeister’s base layers is a long, flat machine that produces the pieces in a row, allowing the yarn to be woven together and all into one piece.
This seamless design was the first of its kind in the industry, and the unique pieces produced by Megmeister caught the eye of some of the biggest fish in the industry.
A small fish in a big pond
Adidas, the world-renowned sportswear brand, contacted Jos and Vanessa in 2019 about the opportunity to work with the Dutch brand after their base layer technology and design caught their eye, and sent a representative to meet the Ruitermans.
“I destroyed it,” Jos said, shrugging. “I said, ‘We’re a small brand and I don’t think this is for us. I thought that would be it, but the guy was very persistent and sent me another email just asking for a Zoom call with us. I looked on LinkedIn at the people in the meeting and realized that these were very senior people, and I realized that it might not be a Mickey Mouse trip.
“We got the call and I put our cards on the table, telling them I was very worried about being copied. But the guy was happy we had voiced our concerns and said that’s exactly what he didn’t want to do. They just wanted our input and they wanted to collaborate with us.”
Being part of such a big company was a little daunting at first, Jos and Vanessa admitted, but after a few years with the brand, they now feel like part of an “extended family” and have played a big part in the production of base layers for Adidas athletes.
In 2021, together with Adidas Terrex, a specialized line of Adidas clothing and footwear for outdoor and adventure sports, Megmeister developed a new eco-merino base layer using regenerated yarn that is 96% biodegradable . Not only was this an exciting product to launch in partnership with Adidas Terrex, it was also a real step forward for Megmeister in creating truly sustainable and high performance sportswear.
Jos is data-driven, and whatever he produces, he needs to see that it’s making a difference. He added: “It’s nice when you have your own company and you can choose what you want to do, but you have to have an idea and some way to improve it. We have always maintained Jos Ruiterman, founder, that we will do something special.”
Vanessa stresses the fact that the cycling clothing industry is crowded and if a brand wants people to buy their products they need to stand out. They believe that by building their products from the ground up and rethinking the way they are designed, they not only bring fit and functionality to the market, but are also a completely unique product that puts the enjoyment of the sport into the person at the head of his designs.
This was also Megmeister’s story when they were researching and developing their panties. Living in the Netherlands, Jos met Servais Knaven, former sporting and professional director of Inoes Grenadiers at the time, who had asked Jos to look into making shorts with better ‘bounce’ or ‘cushioning’ in the pad . “I told him I’d like to help, but my problem was that I needed to be able to measure my performance to know that I’m doing something much better,” Jos said.
He continued to research the short bib discomfort and found that it was one of the most searched terms in the Netherlands. Intrigued, Knaven introduced Jos to a German company that was able to measure the pressure on the saddle, and that’s how Jos was able to measure the performance of his shorts.
Trying several different brands before producing his own, he found that most shorts pads only had a cushioning time of about 20 minutes before they were almost completely gone, because they were made only of foam. Using his many years of experience in the textile industry, Jos created a special fabric in Nottingham, which he made into a figure eight, creating a suspension system. After two years of development, Jos and Vanessa took it to an Italian pad manufacturer and created their own custom pad for Megmeister’s new briefs. And of course, driven by the data, Jos tested the shorts again with the same pressure mapping technology and could clearly see that his pad had a much longer damping time compared to other options in the market
Protect the future
Jos and Vanessa’s mission for Megmeister was to make the best base layer in the world and although they have received the Adidas seal of approval and developed their range of cycling clothing into cycling jerseys, shorts and accessories, one thing has remained the same. his entire journey: sustainability.
Both Jos and Vanessa are strict about ensuring their products are as sustainable as possible. From their base layers being anti-bacterial so people can wear them for years to come, to their shirts made with their bespoke Nuyarn fabric, sustainability is inherent in everything Megmeister does. “We don’t do it because it’s trendy,” Jos said. “We do this because we’ve seen the negativity that can come from not taking care of our planet in the clothing industry.”
Vanessa echoes this, noting that they have three daughters who will grow up on the planet we are responsible for now, and they want future generations to be able to enjoy outdoor sports the way people do today, with a beautiful landscape and spectacular views. . But this will only be possible if people care about today’s world, and that means buying and manufacturing sustainably. That’s why Jos and Vanessa Ruiterman are dedicated to producing high performance, comfortable and stylish gear that will help the next generation, long into the future.