Cycle “fashion”

I’ve been cycling regularly for a while now and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two very distinct and equally dreadful ends to the cycle fashion spectrum: head-to-toe day-glo spandex at one end, tweed and wicker baskets at the other – with nothing particularly inspiring filling the gap in between.

Whilst I can appreciate the comfort and functionality of Lycra, I’m far too young (not to mention the wrong sex) to appreciate the MAMIL scene and whilst I totally appreciate the efforts of companies like Cyclodelic and Cyclechic to bring a bit of style to cycling, I really don’t want to spend a small fortune to look like a pretentious middleclass Londoner either.

That ‘oh so twee’ cape teamed with a helmet in the shape of a vintage hat may look cute on a leisurely Sunday pedal to Waitrose on your sit up and beg cycle, but I don’t think I can pull that off cycling through the windy rugged hills of Yorkshire on my mountain bike. One such trendy website I visited recently had an image of a lady on a bike wearing high heels to promote their ‘ankle cuff’ product. Cycling in heels…. REALLY? In what parallel universe is that a good idea? I’m just guessing, but I’m pretty confident that the practical and safety concerns addressed by the ankle cuff aren’t really of much concern to your average high heeled cyclist.

Mind you, I’ve never really been known for my amazing fashion sense, so who am I to comment? The only person I’ve ever seen who has successfully managed to add a sense of style and identity to his bike ride is a fat bearded man known locally as ‘Retro Man’. I’ve tried to get a quick photo of him but it’s quite difficult given that he is always whooshing past me in a flash of neon. Also, I think he’d probably be pretty confused/upset about me asking to take his photo just because I think he looks awesome in an ironic retro kind of way. I don’t think he’s doing it for fashion props, he’s just had the same clothes since the 80’s, but he’s still a legend in my book.

If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I love dressmaking, so I’m thinking of making some cycle clothing next year that’s quirky and individual but without being so cutesy and feminine that it would look out of place on a mountain bike. Watch this space for that! In the meantime, I’ll be following the lead of Retro Man where I can. Check out these charity shop bargains – the cycle jacket I’m wearing was bought from a local charity shop for just £1 and the cycle top beautifully modeled by Nev was 1 EURO from a flea market in Brussels. True retro cool – you’ll see no overpriced vintage replicas here. [pic]

~Neo

UPDATE! Since writing my massively insightful and influential (tee hee) cycle “fashion” blog above, I’ve come across the Jahvahaal Internationale team JVA website – a hilarious spoof site mocking London based (extremely expensive, extremely pretentious) cycling brand, Rapha. I thought I’d share because it’s well worth a look. It parodies the Rapha site and branding with statements on the home page like: “Branding the Banal”, and “We like our rides like we like our fonts. Sans serif.” and “products” such as the essential ‘flavor flaps’ – to counter the age old problem of “back wheel bukkake” from the bike in front, “made from real, organic fruit leather …to infuse rear wheel spray with intense fruit flavour before it hits your mouth”. It reinforces, in a humorous way, the point I was trying to make about the ridiculousness of the ‘aspirational’ branding used by some of the high-end cycle companies, trying to get consumers to buy into their unrealistic idea of cycle culture. Enjoy!

~Neo

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