From Fashionable to Fashion Accessory

Transportation or Fashion Accessory?

According to an article in the New York Times “Fashion & Style” section, bicycles have crossed the line from being merely fashionable to being actual fashion accessories:

Fendi, for example, recently introduced the Abici Amante Donna, a handmade $5,900 bicycle with a front-mounted beauty case and saddlebags in Selleria leather ($9,500 for the version with the optional fur saddlebags). At Louis Vuitton, the designer Paul Helbers riffed on Manhattan bike-messenger style at the Paris runway shows in June. Last spring another LVMH brand, DKNY, helped execute the Bike in Style Challenge, in which aspiring designers were asked to create fashionable bike apparel. And in June, Hublot, the luxury watchmaker, partnered with BMC, the Swiss bikemaker, to create a sleek black 11-speed, for about $20,000.

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, just like that woman in the Randall photograph.

Last I checked I’m a middle-aged nerd in sandals; I guess I didn’t realize how fashionable it is to ride a bike these days. :-) The idea of bicycles as fashion accessories initially struck me as odd, but after thinking about it, whatever gets people out of their cars is fine by me.

Read the article in the NYT

21 Responses to “From Fashionable to Fashion Accessory”

  • brad says:

    Related article here from earlier this year on the Curbside Bicycle Shop (Toronto) blog:

    http://www.curbside.on.ca/blog/?p=588

  • Roland Smith says:

    Alan, I agree with the sentiment of getting people out of cars, but this is just rediculous.

    Looking at that Abici Amante Donna, that is a heck of a lot of money for what is essentially a granny bike, and an ugly one at that. The good thing is that it comes with fenders and a chainguard, and screens to keep your clothes out of the wheels. But those are practically mandatory for this kind of bike.

    What cracked me up was the GPS holder. :-) Anyone who needs a GPS to get around town should (and I fear would) earn him/herself a darwin award at the earliest opportunity.

    Even if the build quality were superb it is horribly overpriced, you can get a top-of-the-line granny bike from Henry Workcycles or Pashley for a lot less, and certainly better value for money IMHO.

    And I don’t mean that expensive is automatically bad. There are expensive bikes out there that I admire as absolutely pinnacles of engineering and manufacturing craft (M5 high racer, Velokraft are things that spring to mind of a ‘bent junkie). But those are not the bikes I would promote to get people out of cars.

    I would bet that none of these bikes when sold ever sees any serious milage.

    On a serious note, the last thing to do would be to imply that you need a $6000 bike to get around town.

  • bongobike says:

    Yikes! That Fendi bike leaves you speechless…

  • Dottie says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot and realized that I have yet to see a member of the uber rich and fashionable set cycling around Chicago – the kind who would ride a $9,000 fur-trimmed bike. Do these people exist outside of the runways? Perhaps it is a real phenomenon in New York City, but I dunno. I would LOVE to see something like this happen in Chicago. I am most likely to be mowed down by a Land Rover in the most rich/fashionable places in town, so more of those people on bikes would be fab!

  • Lickle says:

    I regularly see people riding bikes in the $10,000+ price range around town here. But they aren’t bejewelled or have gold plating. They are, generally, made of carbon fiber and titanium. And have funny looking people dressed in colourful clothes with aerodynamic shoe covers riding them….

  • Alan says:

    Funny tangentially related story:

    My wife and I are parked in front of a local bike shop the other day, her on our daughter’s SE Lager single speed (value $550), me on my IF Club Racer (value $4000-ish), when a bike shop dude comes out and says “Hey, cool bike!” I start to respond when I realize he’s talking to my wife and referring to the SE, not the Club Racer. He proceeds to gush over the bike and gives her tips on how to upgrade the components, etc. Bike Shop Dude never even noticed the IF (not that I was looking for validation, but this was ridiculous ;-) ).

    I suppose the SE is as close to a fashion accessory as a bike will ever get around our house… LOL.

  • Shelly says:

    A near by community, Los Gatos (uber rich silicon valley community) has the most costly bikes I have ever actually seen anyone ride around a town. I see them parked in front of the best outdoor type coffee houses and cafes with the owners sitting just a couple feet away. My BF points out single components on these bikes that are worth more than all 3 of my vintage bikes combined. I’m in awe. These are not ‘granny’, euro-style bikes, but you can probably guess what they are…

  • jeff says:

    Alan, That IS funny, but you have to admit that Lager is a cool looking bike! Although next to your bikes its like a turd in a punch bowl!

  • ToddBS says:

    BIke shop guy saw a SS hub, anodized rims, and bullhorns and was magnetically drawn to it. He probably didn’t understand the IF, so he steered clear.

    As for me, I like nice looking bikes, but not to the point that I’ll pay 9500 for one. Even if it was a new Riv do-everything-replace-your-car bike. Where would you even park a bike like that? Even in my sleepy town it would get stolen or stripped bare if you left it alone for 1/2 hour.

    And as for fashion.. I’ve been spotted wearing Chuck Taylors around town on my bike. Mostly because I don’t have a pair of Sambas at the moment. I prefer them as the Chucks are too thin-soled for my BMX studded pedals.

  • Christie says:

    Hey if a fur-trimmed bike is now considered fashionable then I’m definitely out of the running! But speaking of fashionable – what brand is that saddlebag in the top picture?

  • ToddBS says:

    Sackville it looks like. Sold by Rivendell.

  • Perry says:

    When folks are riding $9K fur-trimmed bikes that PETA protesters throw buckets of fake blood on, and which necessitate restaurants to supply bike valets to park said bikes, and when Prius drivers pull over when they see such bikes a-coming…that will be awesome!

  • Perry says:

    That previous comment was pretty bad sentence construction but you get the idea. :)

  • Alan says:

    @Christie

    Yup, what Todd said; Rivendell Sackville Saddlesack:

    http://www.rivbike.com/products/list/bags_and_racks?a=1&page=all#product=20-132

  • Alan says:

    @Perry

    Liked it, I did. :-)

  • Radom Ray says:

    Excellent , that means there will be lots and lots of these low mileage well made bikes for vintage restoration in a few years . Who knows maybe some of the wealthy will get some good laws passed or hurt in an accident with an auto and actually win a high profile case against a driver so the police can’t cover it up .

  • Alan says:

    @Ray

    I like your thinking, Ray.

  • david p. says:

    i think the meteoric surge in popularity of fixed gear bicycles explains a large portion of the “bicycle as an accessory.” much of the aesthetic of fixed gears seems deeply rooted in component choice and adornment.

  • Stephen says:

    Hey, whatever it takes. I don’t know anyone who spends more than $100 on a pair of shoes, but the fashion pages are full of very expensive shoes that cost upwards of what I make in two weeks. Nevertheless, we all wear shoes, and even if we try to be anti-fashionistas, we all still have a uniform that speaks to others.

    Yes, super expensive fur-trimmed bicycles are stupid, but this is how the fashion world operates. And if it makes bicycles more cooler than they already are, then so be it.

  • Doug says:

    Re: Alan & the SE Lager bike experience

    Yep, this has been going on for years in Portland, Ore. It’s not the $10,000 carbon bikes that anyone notices anymore – those are for old fogeys wearing spandex and butt pads. All of the hipsters in East Portland ride fixed gear bikes that could be worth anywhere from $50 to $5,000 – as long as it’s a fixie and painted pretty colors.

    The bike companies have jumped on the bandwagon too – nearly all of them make several trendily-coloured fixies now (a market that a few years ago barely existed). For example, Kona’s $2,600 Grand Wagon has a marketing piece that says: “If this bike doesn’t get you dates – like, really hot dates – you might have issues.

    While this statement may seem like a bit of hyperbole, I assure you it is not. For Portland Hipsters having the ‘right’ kind of fixie is pretty much the determining factor in whether you get a guy’s / gal’s attention – assuming of course that you’re wearing all the appropriate vintage clothing, have plenty of tattoos, and are living off of your parents money.

    So yeah, bikes as a fashion statement have really come into their own from back in the old days. Bike companies like Electra and Globe are doing brisk business. I’m sure we’ll see more of the same as we ride the new bike boom.

    note: I’m not making any judgments here, many of my friends are hipsters. They’re typically very eco-friendly, they usually don’t own cars, and they’re mostly nice people like you and me. I guess I could sum up my experience with this Grandpa Simpson quote: “I used to be with it. But then they changed what IT was. Now what I’m with isn’t IT, and what’s IT seems scary and weird. It’ll happen to YOU!”

  • The Opoponax says:

    @ Dottie – I’m a New Yorker and it’s not even a trend here. From what I understand there are people in these parts who are willing to spend $10,000 on a bike, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the kind of bike they’re looking for. Thus far, I have seen basically zero “fashionistas” on bikes, though there are plenty of fashionable cyclists in the vein of Velocouture or Cycle Chic. But they’re people who are into bike culture and who are more likely to ride a Pashley or Rivendell, something Dutch, or a vintage cruiser.

    I was stuck behind a couple of fixed gear poseurs wobbling and weaving their sorry asses along the Hudson River bike trail this afternoon, though. They did not appear to be fashion executives.

    Trading your car for a bike is not really a thing in New York, because so few people drive, anyway. And the people who drive are more likely to be recreational cyclists who keep a car for access to their country house – a bike isn’t going to replace that.

 
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