Sometimes the greatest break throughs can happen by accident, such as baked beans, the quick release skewer or the lycra short. Toni Maier-Moussa had a vision of making a carbon fibre bicycle. This was the mid '70's when most companies were still relying on steel as the material of choice.
Toni had to seek special permission from US Department of Defense to start his project, as much of the material was being used on top secret projects, so I am sure a Swiss man wanting to use it for a bicycle must have raised a smile.
Once the prototype frame with it's radical teardrop tubes had been made they took the bicycle to the Zurich Technical University. What would take place would be the first ever aerodynamic tests on a bicycle. Two things were discovered in this testing process, 1. that the aerodynamic properties of the tubes were reduced once the rider sat up and 2. the wool clothing caused excessive drag.
Toni and his wife Eliane (who was a apparel and textile technician) began work on a body suit to reduce drag, with Hans Hess, who had worked on downhill ski suits. How the relationship with DuPont (the only people to make Lycra) began is uncertain, but my guess would be that between Hans and Eliane they may have had some knowledge of this new fabric. All I can say is thank you, can you imagine riding in wool shorts today.
Some things don't change and PRO endorsement then made as much sense as it does now as it adds vital testing and credbility to the intorduction of new products. How Tony managed to convince the then No 1 team in the world to use his shorts was nothing short of a marketing master stroke, since the original interest from Peter Post was in the carbon frame. Ti Raleigh team took to the shorts preferring the more aerodynamic lighter weight, and they were also more comfortable to wear. Within a few years nearly every PRO could be seen wearing a version of Toni's short, the lucky few had the "Real McCoy" in the Assos product.
Not one to stand still Assos still lead the pack with their constant evolution of both cut, fabrics and the chamois in the shorts. Along the way Assos have scored many firsts, which leaves others playing catch up. Because of Assos all cycling shorts are now better, and because they constantly innovate they are still the most desired products made for a cyclist.
Thank God for Assos, absolutely.