Bike Pretty at SPIN London

Bikes?  Check.  Good coffee?  Check.  Pretty things, nice people?  Check.

We took a spin (har har) through SPIN London last weekend, a biannual event now in its third edition, and came back with this summary of our favourite bike pretty products, people, and moments to share with you.

Starting with none other than…

1. Michaux Club.  A former technical designer, Bike Pretty muse Rachel Bonney set the bar high when she launched her cycle-minded bag line Michaux Club in 2011.
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Hey that’s her!  Check out that smile, and smart merchandising. 

But she doesn’t make just bags.  A new version of Michaux Club’s stellar Lightsaber bar tape debuted at SPIN, replete with neat double rows of perforated holes that reveal the reflective material underneath – a concept that began with Rachel’s Zodiac bag series.

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Three colours!  Wow.  Is it obvious our vote lies with the gold?

…so your bars will glow ominously in the dark.

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I loved glowsticks on halloween as a kid, so this takes me back to happy memories of trick-or-treating. Except on my bike. Everyday. And who doesn’t wish everyday was halloween?

Rachel also featured some snazzy tassel keyring charms in the same colour palette as the bar tape.

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Tinged with reflective 3M silver, they really bring the hi-viz whimsy.  I liked them so much I bought two (one for me, one for Melissa, natch).  It goes great with my vintage Bonnie Cashin for Coach satchel, pictured above right (via Michaux Club’s instagram feed).

 And with another extra-special satchel, that you’ll hear about soon.

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2. Otto London. Londoners will likely be familiar with this line of urban ponchos, which come in an array of colours.  In my bike pretty world, there’s two kinds of capes: those to wear in an absolute downpour, and those to wear on a regular basis, to help block wind chill whilst maintaining a sense of movement and ease on the bike.

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Despite the fact that I live in London, I’m often in the latter type.  And this denim version of Otto’s signature style ticks all the right boxes.

The dark material is versatile and weighty, giving it just the right amount of swing.  And it’s treatable, too, with otter wax or any other water-proofing process, for the repellant-inclined.

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Functional details like the two-way zip, internal handlebar straps and zipped chest pocket make it perfectly suited to cycling, and conveniently hidden when you’re not. All in all, I felt just like Anne St. Marie in Balmain, circa 1955.

And what’s not Bike Pretty about that?_________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Hovding. We’ve all seen those slow-mo vids of the much-hyped Hovding Airbag for Cyclists, circulating on design blogs across the internets for what feels like years.  But did you know Hovding’s design is proven to be three times more effective in a crash than leading industry helmets?  Protecting the noggin is a very Bike Pretty concept indeed.

Styled on the Euro-predilection for layered scarves, Hovding Marketing Manager Patricia Müller modelled the paisley version for us here.

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Scandinavian genes.  It’s a real thing, guys.
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4. Lflect.  If you’ve gone internet-hunting for pretty solutions to hi-viz in the past few years, chances are you’ve come across L-Flect’s Chanel-inspired chain.

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What you may not have seen is the rest of adorable designer Elena Corchero’s (pictured here) line, which includes a vast array of other like-minded, witty-chic accessories.

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Retro-inspired shoe clips, pins, reflective-threaded knits and more filled her SPIN stand.

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I love a mustard-hued glove.  With a subtle, detachable hi-viz bow; even better.

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My BP vote lies with the 3M reflective kiltie, and the hi-viz polka dot T-shirts.  I think the latter concept could be spun off into any manner of dotted materials and products, however.  Corchero should just go dotty.

Always a good look, if you ask me.

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5. Tracy Neuls Bike footwear line.  Nominated for the London Design Museum’s 2014 Designs of the Year exhibit, Neuls’ capsule range of bike-oriented styles combine her signature quirky sensibility with resilient materials and subtle hi-viz details.

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Our favourite is the George Chelsea Boot, pictured here at Spin in two materials: vegetable-tanned leather that only gets better with pedal-scuffed age (taupe on right), and the black suede style on the left.

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Glass beads are melted onto the surface and then coated with resin, lending a supple granular aspect to the surface that ultimately yields a versatile, lo-fi take on these babies that lit up fashion week streets of recent seasons.  Suffice it to say Neuls’ design will probably stand up to the elements, and your bike, much better.

Not to mention eliminate the shedding problem that comes with glitter footwear.

Photo courtesy of Tracy Neuls. 

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6. Tokyobike. Let’s face it: bike shops are not usually an aesthetically pleasing experience.  East-London based Tokyobike breaks that tacit rule however, and their SPIN stand was no exception with its reliably minimal, multi-brand offering.  Plus, it led to another Karina T. Jones sighting, which is always a thrill.

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Their thoughtful palette of SAHN helmets paired well with Tokyobike’s eponymous frame line.

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And you know we love a pastel helmet palette.

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7. Festka custom-built road frames. Specifically, this one embellished by artist Jan Kalab.

There are no words.

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and of course, our favourite Bike Pretty star of east London, Jenni Gwiazdowski of London Bike Kitchen!

Posing with another *ace* Festka frame:

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The next edition of SPIN takes place 5th-7th of December 2014.  Hope to see you there!

Bike To Work Skirt by BetaBrand

Bike Pretty in Downtown San Francisco

Last month, BetaBrand (the San Francisco clothing brand famous for Cordarounds) invited me to take a sample of their new Bike To Work skirt out for a spin. Photographer Jason Van Horn, who also happens to be the energizing force behind all of BetaBrand’s Bike To Work collection, came along for the ride and captured these awesome shots.

Stylish bike commuters on the Market Street bike lane

The concept is similar to the Iva Jean Reveal Skirt, that darling of Kickstarter. A lot of Internet Commenters found the comparison irresistible, crying “but this skirt already exists!” when BetaBrand released their own bikable skirt.

The Bike Pretty Satchel by Handbag Designer Melissa Davies

Obviously that’s a silly thing to complain about. We don’t expect one type of bike to work for everyone. So why should we expect one type of bike-to-work skirt?Bike Skirt with Zippers

Like the Reveal Skirt, the BetaBrand version is a pencil skirt that converts to an A-line through zipper technology. It’s a clever way to solve the problem most pencil skirts have: too tight across the thighs to withstand pedaling. Seriously, bike-built thighs rip most fitted skirts to shreds. This version has two invisible zippers in the front. Unzipped, they reveal godets made of moisture-wicking material.
Bike Pretty Satchel and the Bike to Work Skirt

Also this skirt is (obviously) grey. I wouldn’t go so far as to call these color options, but if you’re a skirt-biker like me, you’ll appreciate the wardrobe possibilities that come from having a black or a grey pencil skirt.Bamboo Bike and a BetaBrand Bike To Work Skirt

A little history: the earliest online mention of this type of converted bike skirt can be found on the Skirts On A Bike blog – naturally enough – way back in 2011. The first versions were strictly after-market modifications featuring a brightly-colored, contrasting lining.

BetaBrand Black Forest Riding Hood

Not to imply that the concept alone is all that remarkable. In fact, you can see a version of the underlying idea in the sleeve of the Black Forest Riding Hoodie I’m wearing in this picture. And this sleeve style is derived from the traditional motorcycle jacket that has origins in the 1940s.Betabrand Bike To Work SkirtGood design is all about the execution, not some hackneyed theory of originality. The BetaBrand version has some nice touches like a rear pocket that hides a retro-reflective flag for night-biking. Right now, you buy the skirt at the pre-order price of $88.20. Expected to ship in late April.

Reflective trim on the bike to work skirt

Menswear: Bike in a Suit

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Because here at Bike Pretty headquarters, we care about menswear too. In fact, there is very little that we find more delightful than a nattily dressed bike commuter dude. Sadly this breed is a rare site in the bike lanes of London and San Francisco.

With 30 days of biking starting on April 1, 2014, shortly followed by National Bike Month in May, we could all use a little office-appropriate inspiration.

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Enter the Commuter Suit by Parker Dusseau. Masquerading as proper business attire, the whole ensemble is actually tricked out with little bike-friendly details like pit zips, discreet reflective piping, and a breathable, moisture wicking finish.

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From a design point of view, this suit isn’t pushing any boundaries. And that’s just the way we like it. There’s no need to go ruining a classic silhouette with some godawful hi-viz branding, right? Check out CoolHunting’s review of the Commuter and see if it works as good as it looks.

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If you’d like to try out the suit yourself, visit these shops:

There’s a Bike in It: 5 Tenets of Bike Pretty, as seen in recent press

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Karlie Kloss & Liu Wen for Coach, S/S 14 ad campaign, New York.

“Wait, what’s that in the corner there?  It looks like a wheel…the wheel of a bicycle! Mere inches away from a seriously pulchritudinous situation…”

This happened so frequently during my recent life *ahem* perusals of the early Spring magazines that my natural bike pretty antennae went into high alert mode.  I starting keeping a mental note of the bike pretty-ness of it all, figuring I’d share once I had a sizeable list en tête, or when a truly “ah-ha!” moment struck me. Well.  Lucky for you guys, that moment arrived last Friday, returning on the London overground with a flat tire, a tired boyfriend, & no patch kit (grrrr) after a trip to the deep east to watch dogs run around in circles (don’t ask).

Let’s be real: it’s not often that I find myself on public transportation.  So it was with palpable delight that I found myself rewarded for my flat tire with a shot of retired Olympic track cyclist Victoria Pendleton on the front page of the London Evening Standard, a copy of which lay discarded on an adjacent seat.  Grinning ear-to-ear atop an upright bicycle in a white lace dress, matching brogues and boater hat – e.g., epitomizing the bike pretty ethos if ever - Victoria seemed to be saying “….WEEEE, BIKES!!” er, “Kelly, get to it.”

And when you start hearing voices when you read the newspaper an Olympic champion stares back at you in fashion-earnest, one sculpted track-cyclist leg revealed and ready to kick your butt, you do what your gut tells you. So. 

5 Tenets of Bike Pretty, as seen in recent International press:

1. Don’t be afraid to Cycle in a Maxi-dress.  Via Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton, on the cover of the London Evening Standard, 21 March 2014.

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A promotion for UK charity Sport Relief, the shoot aimed to recreate the bicycle scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), with a bit of a role reversal.

Pendleton plays both Katherine Ross and Paul Newman in one as she tows Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev through a lush English idyll.  And in a maxi-dress, no less, one lacking the functional thigh-high slit of Ross’ original.  Skills, people.  BP skills, to be precise.

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Photos: Rupert Peace.  Want Pendleton’s outfit credits? Scroll to the bottom here.

2. Never underestimate the power of a versatile Printed TrenchVia leggy all-American model Karlie Kloss in Coach’s S/S 14 ad campaign.

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Like Miu Miu and Sonia Rykiel before them (#respect), Coach boosted their spring campaign by putting Kloss on a bike.  She’s basically perfection in a reptile-print wisp of a trench, the styling incorporating a signature-yet-subtle bike pretty coordination move matching the eyewear frames to the bicycle [frame], and bag.  Win win, Reed Krakoff.  Way to leave on a high note.

The Bonnie Cashin era excluded (gah, double-kisslock pockets!), I had heretofore never been much of a Coach fan.  This shot of Karlie wiped any suburban mall-bred memory of khaki C-logo jacquard from the proverbial slate, however, and I found myself scoping out the latest bags (#dangerous) and imagining outfits in my head around several styles.

Converted, for sure.

3. DUDE, definitely Bike in Heels.  It’s so much easier than walking.  Via Coach (again!), and their rather brilliant #coachfromabove social media campaign, featuring their recent footwear collections.

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Clockwise from upper left: Coach S/S 14 | Coach’s F/W 14 Ophelia heel via @jenpinkston of The Effortless Chic | Coach’s Marah flat  | Coach via Andy of Style Scrapbook

Hmm, the marketing team over at Coach must include a Bike Pretty fan (or several), amirite? Or maybe they’re tapping into the bike pretty inclinations of an ever-increasing number of stylish NYers, braving the streets on wheels via the Citi bike program…or maybe both.

Either way, their footwear campaign shots, surreptitiously planted on the website amongst customer-generated media of fans sharing shots of their Coach footwear from above, feature the label’s more practical yet pretty styles perched on pedals.  Pretty preening footwear perched on pedals. Say that three times fast.

Scoping the #coachfromabove hashtag also led to this lovely post on the same topic…and this fun if gratuitous shot below. What, there’s bikes in it, ok?  Via Style Scrapbook.  Trip to Amsterdam, anyone?

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4. Ride a Bike in Paris. At least once in your life.  Via Vogue Paris, February 2014, Sur les Quais editorial, styling: Claire Dhelens, photography: Lachlan Bailey. 

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“I own the île Saint-Louis.” Photo: Lachlan Bailey.

Admittedly, this is not exactly a BP tenet.  But certainly something to add to the bucket list, if you haven’t done so already.  As a longtime resident and now frequent visitor to the city of lights, I can say with conviction that cycling in Paris is a wonder.  Riding around London, I often fantasize about her lorry*-less streets, and manageable number of buses to circumvent.

Really, it feels just like this.  And at BP HQ we love a bike in editorial, so had to share these shots from Vogue Paris’ February 2014 issue.

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“Don’t mess with my dog. Or my wheels.”  Photo: Lachlan Bailey.

5. Embrace Bike-Commuting and its unique style challenges.  Via everyday London commuter Jess Bowie in The New Review magazine’s Cycling Issue, 23 March 2014.
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Photo: Immo Klink.

Despite its late-to-the-game title, writer Simon Usborn’s “The Rise of the Female Cyclist” piece in last weekend’s issue of The New Review magazine (The Independent on Sunday) proved an inclusive read, chock-full of insightful quotes by Caz Nicklin of Cycle Chic fame, London Mayor Boris Johnson “[we need to] de-Lycrafy the bicycle” and this food for thought from everyday commuter Jess Bowie, 29, pictured above;

“I’m loathe to say it but often women care more about how they look, so might think cycling will make them a bit more disheveled.  But if more of us do it, and female commuters look out the bus window and see women like them on bikes, it would definitely help.” 

Which is a pretty good segway: don’t miss Melissa’s upcoming post on ModCloth about stylish bike-commuting.  Watch this space!

…and Happy Weekend!  I’m off to stylishly lean against my handlebars like so SPIN London. See you soon!

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S/S 14 campaign, Golden Goose Deluxe Brand® Venezia (I know: Geese? Venice? Whaat? Alas). 

*Lorry = British parlance for what is referred to in American English as a semi-truck.

How to Bike to Work (and still look dressy)?

Send me your bike fashion questions

Are you wondering how to bike to work (or school, or to meet friends, or on a date) and still look dressed up?

I’ll be tackling your cycle chic dilemmas in a guest post for the ModCloth blog. So let me know what your fashion pain points are.

Shoes too slick for the pedals? Helmet hair leaving you flat? Or maybe you’re tired of hitting you elbow on the toilet paper dispenser while trying to change in the tiny bathroom stall at the office?

I want to hear from you. Send me your questions and let’s get our bike pretty rolling.