The explosion of a bicycle culture: the role of fashion

The explosion of a bicycle culture: the role of fashion

The cyclist fashion industry has its recent routes in the 1990’s and couriers in London. These professional cyclists started a revolution in cycling clothing. Their jerseys and caps are certainly retro today, but they began a craze that has taken Britain by storm over recent years. Early on their clothing was their uniform. They were getting things from A to B in busy urban streets, and had to stand out. Today more and more people are opting for peddle power to get to work.

Following the extraordinary success of Britain’s athletes at the 2012 Olympics, and Bradley Wiggins’ victory at the Tour de France, statistics from Sport England highlight the facts behind the boom. All the new participants now wear their own uniforms, and they are more fashionable than ever before.

The affluent cyclist

The average bicycle commuter is more likely to be a Waitrose shopper and read the broadsheets than anything else. What this means is that the average cyclist is willing to spend a fair bit of money to look good while they commute. This has meant that there’s been an explosion in the number of people spending more than £1000 on their bikes. Bikes, attire and accessories have become status symbols, much like having a new BMW is, or wearing a new Gucci suit.

New better clothing

Global market research company Mintel explains that previously un-usable materials can now be used in the manufacture of the outdoor clothing such as cycling jerseys, gloves or shoes. Whereas previously the attire had to be kept down in price, now the revolution in cycling means that manufacturers can choose the most premium, best quality, most appropriate materials for purpose. Whereas polyester base layers could get pongy after exercise, merino does so far less.

An expanding market

The explosion in numbers of cyclists has been astounding. In major cities like Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester the Noughties saw an 80% rise in people opting to mount their bicycle to get to work. In London that rise was upwards of 140%. With cycle to work schemes, and the expansion of the industry in terms of new bike models and new clobber, numbers will only increase.

Drivers of the revolution

There are lots of good reasons to cycle to work. It is good for your health. It is good for your finances-you can save thousands a year in petrol and car maintenance. It is also good for the planet. In London two-wheeled pedal power means far less cars on the road, far less petrol emissions and far less parking space required. It is one of those positive trends in society today and fashion is contributing to pushing it on still further.

Look good, do good, feel good

As human beings we are by nature a comparative animal. We compare ourselves with other people by the qualifications we have, by our spouses, by our football teams, by our job roles, and now by our bicycles and sports attire. When we get to work by bike we are making a statement about who we are. In societies terms we are saying is that we are responsible, we are healthy and we are in control. Our commuting attire reinforces the positive image we are creating. Whether we are heading to work, or around the suburbs or countryside in the evenings or weekends, we get a self-image shot in the arm.

We all want to look good when we are heading to work (Here are some tips when you are in a hurry). We want to be seen in the most positive light we can.

The challenge for sports fashion manufacturers is to make clothing that you could wear to the pub and still look good. The attire needs to be functional but also make us feel good about how we look. This is a challenge that is being tackled head on, and is being won.

The evolution of cycle wear has certainly transformed the image of cyclists in society, and will continue to fuel how fashionable the bike is in Britain in the future.