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Clothing for when it matters

In Denmark, Fusion Sportswear System puts functionality before fashion to create “clothing for when it matters”. CMO Troels Vest Jensen speaks to RIDE HIGH about zero compromises, world records and a commitment to sustainability.
Published 23. May 2023

What’s the story of Fusion?

In 1999, Danish brothers Mads and Per Nissen founded Fusion in a bid to change the status quo of sportswear. In the mid-90s, they had operated a sports shop where they faced two major challenges: firstly, product lines were very fashion-focused – they wanted more focus on functionality and technology – and second, it was a supplier-led industry where large pre-orders had to be placed many months in advance, tying up retailers’ liquidity.

Focusing initially on the triathlon world they themselves knew, they began to develop their own high-performance sportswear with a focus on usage and functionality. Their mission: to create a long-term, timeless collection where the quality and technical function of the same products would be continually refined, rather than bringing out new, short-term, seasonal products.

What they created – and what we still manufacture today – is a range of sportswear that’s comfortable, durable, highly functional and uncompromising.

Man with sports googles in his hair wearing FUSION cycling clothes
Fusion CMO Troels Vest Jensen is a passionate fan of the products he helps bring to market

Our collections now span running, cycling, triathlon, gym workouts and ‘recharge’ – which is about comfort on recovery days – and we cater for everyday exercisers through to elite athletes. But what unites all our gear is that we create clothing for when it matters. If you’re going for a short run in 20 degree heat, really any clothing is OK. It’s when you want to train seriously, including in bad weather, that you need the right gear. That’s when we step in, with high-quality, technical sportswear.

black and white photo with men viewing sports clothes from FUSION
The materials used by Fusion are all tested for the highest durability, with zero compromise on quality

What are your USPs?

Our USPs are rooted in three core principles: durable, measurable and comfortable.

Our products really last: you’ll regularly see people using Fusion gear that’s 10+ years old and still going strong. We continually invest in R&D, but we stick to core products and our evolution is functional, not fashion-led: you’ll never see us launching the new season’s colours!

Closeup of sports wear clothes
Removing Fusion Power Locks would reduce production costs by 20%, but Fusion is unwilling to compromise

All our products are tested by pro athletes as well as at our in-house lab. The majority of the materials we use have already been developed to our high specifications, but we then rub-test them as well: normally 15,000 rubs is considered very good, but we won’t use fabrics that don’t achieve 30,000. Meanwhile, if we removed Fusion Power Locks from our products – our signature red stitching – we could reduce production costs by 20 per cent, but it’s key to our durability and we won’t compromise. As a family-owned business, we can stay true to our values.

Measurable is about results. We’re talking wind tunnels, track trials and so on – as well as the results our elite athletes achieve – to measure the impact of each product refinement. The refinements are continual – we’re on our 1,000th iteration of some products by now – but each is tiny, to the point that you’ll see elite athletes winning medals in Fusion products that are five years old.

Sports cyclist on a cold day wearing orange bicycle helmet and jacket from FUSION. black googles and pants.
The Cycling Core collection has nine products to mix and match for all weather

Finally, comfort is crucial: all the highly technical elements of our clothing are there in a way you can’t feel. If you’re going to be on a bike for several hours, the best cycling bib is the one you don’t notice.

The pay-off of these three principles is that when you’re wearing our products, you’re unstoppable.

Sustainability is an important USP, too, and it goes back to our durability: how long you use a product matters. It also goes back to our EU-based, small order manufacturing that ensures retailers only ever have to purchase what they know they will sell right now. We never over-produce. [For more details, please see A Sustainable Agenda.]

Tell us about your elite athletes.

We work with a large number of elite athletes, from triathlon world champions to track cycling record holders to UCI cycling team Colo Quick.

Crucially, we develop partnerships rather than traditional sponsorships: we’re part of professional athletes’ training as they prepare for competition. They might come to us with a small feature they want to add to their clothing, for example, which we prototype at our Danish head office and give them within weeks. If it gives the desired results, we’ll roll it into our production.

Three men talking about sportswear Fusion
Fusion partners with lots of elite athletes, quickly refining sportswear around their needs

Because this is another thing that’s different about Fusion: those elite-led refinements are built into our core product lines, meaning elite athletes wear standard Fusion items when they compete and achieve their world records. Whatever they need, we can simply pick it off the shelf and send it to them immediately.  Other people can buy it, too.

What we don’t have is entry-level clothing: ours is premium sportswear where the difference between our cheaper and more expensive products is down to functionality. For example, if you’re new to triathlon, you’ll be most interested in comfort and easily getting in and out of your suit to go to the toilet. If you’re a pro triathlete, you don’t care about that: you’ll go to the toilet in your suit! What you want are aerodynamics and water repellence so your suit is the same weight wet as dry.

Danish cycling athlete Magnus winning the race
Elite athletes wear standard Fusion items when they compete, with all improvements making their way into core product lines

How much of a difference can the right gear make?

Let me tell you about our new line, Tempo, which launched in March: a high performance collection spanning triathlon suit, running tights and shorts, cycling bib and cycling jersey.

We’ve been working on Tempo for a year in collaboration with pro triathlete Sam Laidlow and he used a prototype of the suit in the Hawaii 2022 World Championships, where he set the fastest bike split ever. The previous record holder also beat his own record by a few seconds, but Sam smashed the record by four minutes. That isn’t purely down to our suit, of course, but it was a big part of it.

What’s the best sportswear for indoor cycling?

There are two distinct worlds in indoor cycling. There are those who usually ride outdoors, who in the winter also connect their road bike to a home trainer such as Wahoo, plus something like Zwift, to train indoors. Then there are those who do indoor cycling classes at the gym.

The former will generally wear the same gear indoors as outdoors: with our Cycling Core collection, you can mix and match from just nine core products to train in any weather. Indoors, in the privacy of your own home, that probably means cycling shorts and bib.

Closeup of man working out drops of sweat on his arms and from his chin
Studio cycling requires clothing that wicks away sweat and keeps you comfortable

For those taking part in indoor cycling classes, the advice is different. Here, the main considerations are the environment – you’re likely to get pretty sweaty – and the wider, more comfortable seat post on a studio bike compared to a road bike. Wearing a normal pair of bib tights with a big pad is a mistake in an indoor cycling class: you don’t need that much padding and it’ll just soak up your sweat and make you uncomfortable.

My advice for indoor cycling classes is to wear multi-sport tights, which are like running tights but more fitted, paired with a singlet. Our multi-sport tights  have a smaller fleece pad and a layer that wicks sweat away from the skin. This combination will give you optimum workout comfort in a group cycling studio environment.

Published 23. May 2023


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