The increase in the number of bicyclists who ride to work, particularly in such cities as New York and Portland, Ore., is driving demand for clothing and accessories that function as well in a business meeting as they do on a bike, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“Today’s bike commuters tend to be early adopters and influencers, the sorts of people who snapped up first-generation iPads,” said the Journal story by Christina Binkley.
“But outfitting oneself for bike commuting raises style issues. Street clothes can be uncomfortable and limiting. Yet as a sport, biking relies on Spandex bike shorts and neon windbreakers. Commuters are hungry for bike-friendly clothes and accessories that don’t require a quick change in the bathroom before a business meeting or a restaurant dinner with friends.”
A range of designers and manufacturers — among them Paul Smith, Coach, Kate Spade, Nona Varnado, Ralpha and Brooks — are rushing to meet that demand “with an array of bags, shoes, coats and even tailored clothing,” the Journal reported.
Some of the clothing and accessories hearken back to an earlier, more stylish era of bicycling.
The New York Times Fashion & Style section, in a piece last fall headlined “This Just in From the 1890s,” took note of this “steady infiltration of 19th-century haberdashery into the 21st-century wardrobe.”
“Garment after garment has arrived on the scene that one might think more Gilbert and Sullivan than Bergdorf and Goodman, only to be taken up by the young beards,” the Times observed on Nov. 11.
“This flamboyance is part of a curious new movement called Tweed Rides, informal gatherings of spiffily dressed ladies and gents cycling leisurely through town and disdaining finish lines.”
Among the garments cited in The Wall Street Journal story is a cycling coat to be launched later this year by Brooks, a British manufacturer best known for its leather bicycle saddles and a range of vintage bike bags in leather and canvas. It was designed for Brooks by Savile Row tailor Timothy Everest.
“Called the ‘Criterion’ jacket and priced at $1,400,” the Journal said, “it is made of the water-shedding Ventile cotton used by the British military and is lined in English tweed. It has channels for iPod wires and a pocket on the lower back — an easy-access location for bicyclists.”
I’m a big fan of Brooks gear, with Brooks saddles on two of my bikes. And the video below shows the Criterion to be a very cool jacket, one that I’d love to own. But, crikey, $1,400!? And I thought Gore-Tex was expensive. You could buy a very sweet bike for the price of that coat.