Do you need different clothing to ride a bicycle? No, you don’t. You can ride your bike in the exact same clothing you would wear for walking. Right down to the high heels and suit coats, people do it every day, all over the globe.
And while you don’t need special gear, the more you start to ride, the more you’ll likely want to modify what you wear to suit your riding style. Features like stretchy seams so you can comfortably reach your handlebars, waterproof fabric and cuffs that don’t get caught in the chain surely make a difference.
HOW DO YOU LOOK?
Technical apparel is designed first and foremost for functionality. Some companies seemingly don’t even take style into consideration. This has always left me scratching my head. I don’t want to spend $150 on an ugly jacket, so why would I do that for a bike jacket?
For those of us who like to look and feel good in our clothing that works well on a bike, it has been an uphill climb. But that’s starting to change. Companies are beginning to take notice that bikers care about how they look, and a few companies are making attractive gear that’s also fully functional.
WOMEN LIKE TO RIDE BIKES
Men aren’t the only people in the world who like to ride bikes, but for some reason Levi’s created an entire line of bike-focused apparel for only men. They rolled out a huge campaign, traveled the country with events. When I asked Levi’s why there were no options for women who don’t want to wear clothing cut for men, they responded with an uninspired stock phrase saying, “It’s something we’re considering and looking into currently.”
For most other companies, I wouldn’t make such a big stink, but we’re talking about Levi’s. They’re a huge company that should have had the resources to know women ride bikes. Levi’s makes durable, stylish clothing so it would have been really nice to have seen some bike-centric options for women. And, selfishly, I am fond of their clothing styles. I kind of thought I might find something I liked in their bike line, and was willing to drop some cash on new duds.
Often companies create products with men in mind first, adding on a few options for women. That’s a decent step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. Some statistics indicate that women are riding bikes as much as men (when you don’t specifically take commute time into account) and account for 80% of all consumer spending in the US. So why would a clothing company not design bike apparel styles for women? It just doesn’t make sense.
GO GIRO, GO GIRO!
This topic has been at the forefront of my bike brain since the Levi’s Portland event is August, a mixture of confusion, frustration and “what a missed opportunity”. So imagine my delight when I stumbled into the Giro booth at Interbike – a gigantic, multi-room expo space – to find a female mannequin front and center, decked out in a good looking technical outfit. There were displays of both men’s and women’s apparel, from stylish gloves to shoes, pants, jackets and more.
The men’s clothing looked great, and there were plenty of options. The women’s clothing looked great, and there were plenty of options.
Pants and shirts were cut for a comfortable but clean, stylish fit and had technical features like a little give in the seams, wicking fabric, easy-grab zipper pulls, subtle reflective details and jersey style back pockets.
Way. To. Go.
SEEING IT THROUGH
A company representative described this new line as a renaissance for the company. They’ve spent a considerable amount of time making this new line happen, carving out space to work within the company and putting thought into every details.
The booth layout was inviting and helped showcase the new line in a very comfortable environment. They even spritzed the booth with a pleasant scent that helped mask the stale smell of the convention center.
While many companies try creative product lines from time to time, they often fall flat once the products reach the retail environment. Bike shops don’t always know how best to display new products and cluttered rack of nicely tailed jerseys just isn’t going to sell well. Giro took the time to create display suggestions at Interbike and walk buyers through the ideas behind how to retail their clothing. Not only will it help the clothing sell, but it helped educate bike shop buyers on how to think differently about selling in this new era of stylish biking.
Giro’s pants are well priced – comparable to a pair of quality jeans. With the additional functional touches, the company is confident their new line is a good investment: clothing the customer will wear day in and day out.
I completely loved the fabrics used. A subtle, refined gray palate with hints of light purple and blue looked sophisticated and versatile.
Maybe this is nothing new for Giro, but I was impressed to see they use the extremely durable Vibram soles on some of their models of shoes.
Their gloves are gorgeous, and I’m not just talking about the long fingered leather gloves suitable for handling a Rolls Royce. Their half finger gloves come in new fabrics that coordinate well with the clothing line.
And yes, they had some camo items, because camo was all the rage at Interbike. While we didn’t think to chronicle all the urban and traditional camo we were seeing, the writers of Urban Velo surely did.
Giro has also jumped on the neon bandwagon with a line of helmets in bright orange and green, and bright orange incorporated into their camo pattern.
LIVE FROM VEGAS!
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We reported live from Las Vegas for Interbike, the largest bicycle industry trade show. Check out our photos, videos and quick thoughts on Instagram and Twitter @ORbike. Use hash tag #Interbike to see what happened at the event.