Levi’s are apparently getting into the bikewear game – starting with adapted versions of their skinny 511 jeans. Adapted so that there’s a nice slotty thing in the waistband for your Kryptolok and also reflective seams so that when you roll your jeans up they look good and keep you visible.
None of this is new, of course, Swrve and Rapha and Howies and a host of other niche brands have been doing this kind of thing for the urban cyclist in countries where cyclists are generally seen as sad or mad for a while now. Cyclists who don’t drive places to ride their bikes but actually ride their bikes to get from A to B not because they don’t have a car but because they prefer riding their bikes. They prefer cycling in cities to walking or driving or taking a bus in them.
Anyway, part of the reason that cycling doesn’t take of in countries like ours (besides the grossly inflated perception that cycling in cities is suicidal) is the weather and the myth that you have to wear special lycra clothes to ride your bike in. I recently bought some padded shorts after a ride round Arran on my fixie made me realise what they are for. (The weather in Arran was lovely and I wore a dress the whole time.) But for riding in the city – even in the rain – you’re not going far, so jeans are perfect (although when it’s hot a skirt or shorts is a much better option). In places where cycling isn’t seen as crazy people go even further than this and ride their bikes to special do’s wearing evening dress and suits and high heels and so on. Amazing. I was blown away when I visited Amsterdam for the first time in April this year.
It’s what all these cycle chic websites are for. Americans and British people marvel at these Continentals who wear whatever the hell they want to ride their bikes. There’s an emerging movement against lycra and the tyranny of organised rides in these sites, campaigning for the right to normalise bikes whatever, whenever, however you like.
Anyway, the point is that if big mainstream brands like Levi’s are getting into urban bikewear then we’re maybe beginning to enter the next phase of the cycle revolution. There must be money in it, if they are investing in it. Perhaps urban cycling is where skateboarding was in the eighties and nineties when brands like Nike were making their first experimental moves, having the confidence that a bit of trial and error with activity was worth it, eventually settling on a successful business model after 20 years.
Hmm, this was meant to be a ‘play’ article but it all comes back to what I do for a living…