Monday, October 5, 2009

A Bike with your Louis Vuitton? Bikes and Fashion Start Talking

See, you can bike in a suit!

Last month the New York Times offered an article on the ways that bicycling was making inroads among the fashionistas. With it was this photo of Renaud Dutreil, the chairman of the North American unit of the luxury and fashion conglomerate LVMH commuting to work. (Photo: Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times)

The article cites other designers and luxury goods houses and the ways they sell bicycling or use bicycling in selling their goods.
Until recently, bikes were merely fashionable. Lately, it seems, they are fashion — and they don’t have to be ultraexpensive novelty items to qualify. As fashion companies start marketing bicycles and bike gear, Mr. Dutreil, a supporter of bicycle-advocacy programs in New York, said he wants to see more cyclists pedaling around in high style.

Closer to home, over the weekend in Portland, the Oregon Manifest kicked off with a special focus on utility bikes. The manifest's manifesto:
We’re looking for the next-wave transportation bike! OREGON MANIFEST has challenged frame builders from around the country to design and build an innovative, modern transportation bike in this technical trial of engineering dexterity and fabrication mettle.

Over 30 custom bike builders will be developing considered, integrated, and spectacular solutions for the everyday rider. The top 12 winners will be displayed at the OM Bike Union for our full 6 weekend run!
Riders took the bikes on a 77 mile "constructor's race." Check out ongoing coverage of the race and the manifest over at bikeportland.

Here's challenge winner Tony Pereira on his winning bike. Here's a detail of the integrated u-lock. (Photo: Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian)

Pereira won a bespoke suit from London tailor Timothy Everest and Rapha.

And it's not just man-suits! Builder Natalie Ramsland of Sweatpea rode the race on an Ahearn step-through in a skirt!

Here in Salem, bicycling remains second-class transportation. At best, the bicycle is regarded as an expensive toy for weekend or evening recreation. But as an everyday tool for mobility, it remains in popular opinion for the homeless guy collecting cans.

In order for bicycling to go mainstream, we will need to have a diverse ecosystem of snooty bikes, common bikes, expensive bikes, and cheap bikes. It will need to become banal rather than exceptional.

It can happen. In some European cities 50% of trips are made by bike. Everyone bikes, and people rarely self-identify as a "bicyclist."

So let's see more fashionistas on bikes!

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