An Ode to Spectacular Catalogues

This Sunday morning, I found myself sitting on the couch not just flipping through, but actually reading a number of catalogues. That’s right reading them.

Call me crazy, but I’ve been very impressed of late by how some active lifestyle brands have upped their catalogue game. Patagonia are pros at this — their sports and adventure photography has always been amazing (so good, they even made a book with 30 years worth of stunning images shot for their catalogue), and they always do a great job of highlighting some inevitably beautiful place in the world that is in threat of going extinct by some terrible thing we are doing to the environment, or telling the brave and brazen stories of real-life adventure seekers.

I recently was bowled over by the brand new Trek catalogue after spotting it at the register of my LBS (the always excellent and friendly Elevation Cycles). Immediately I was drawn to the beautiful cover depicting two people partaking in a breakfast feast (inevitably after an early morning bike ride), and as I skimmed through the pages I was even more impressed with the wonderful photography and stories inside.  I sheepishly asked the guy behind the counter, “Can I take one of these?” and he nodded and said that the catalogue was one of the first of this new format. Honestly, when was the last time you asked to take a catalogue? It’s that good.

Trek catalogue with makeover bike

Inside the Spring 2016 issue are some pretty genius stories. My favorite is the story of a guy named Jason who bought a Trek bike in 2005 and loved it dearly, but ended up sidelining his biking activities as he got married and raised kids. Now in a period of his life where he can devote more time to the activity he loved so dearly, Trek did a before and after spread of how they took his old bike and upgraded it for 2016. I know Trek is trying to sell me on the idea of buying more stuff to make my bike better, but gosh darn it, they’ve done it in such a charming and interesting way I’m not at all offended.

Trek catalogue bike tour

There’s also an entire essay about great one-day races around the world, highlighting smaller springtime races in Italy, France, and Germany. Beautiful shots of the race and the crowd, along with handy little guides for each on what to eat, drink, and read while in the region made me want to look up plane tickets ASAP.

These portraits of Trek employees’ dogs are just the cutest!

Trek catalogue dog portraits
Trek catalogue dog portraits

If all catalogues were this interesting to read I’d never have to call up customer service asking to get off a mailing list. I think clothing and home furnishing stores could definitely learn a thing or two about getting people to look forward to receiving their catalogues instead of loathing it. For Patagonia and Trek, you’ve done amazing jobs and I’ll gladly ask you to keep ’em coming.

Are there any other catalogues you eagerly await the arrival of in your mailbox?

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