10 January 2008

Fashion Accessories for Bikes, or Bikes as Fashion Accessories?

Red Light Waiting (by [Zakkaliciousness])
A quiet moment at a red light. Made all the better by the prescence of a red bike. And she had red gloves to match her bike, too.

The temperature was hovering around 0 C but that's no excuse for not looking fashionable. Style over speed. Style over freeze.

We had an email from a student in London asking for thoughts about bicycles and fashion and whether bikes are fashion accessories. An interesting question. Made me think.

In countries that only have emerging bicycle culture, bikes are sometimes seen as fashion accessories. Recent articles about celebrities on bikes attests to that.

However, in places that have established bike culture like in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, bikes are transport. Period. They get you from A to B and back again. If your bike gets stolen, you are paralysed and you don't rest until you get a hold of a new one.

For many years, the bikes in Amsterdam and Copenhagen were, by and large, cheap, old or both. Mainly because the risk of theft was/is high. Why invest in a flash bike when you might end up getting it stolen?

In the States and Britain, most cyclists on the streets are hardcore hobby cyclists with fancy gear. This is changing, we know, but generally the perception is that cycling is a sport, not a transport option.

We wrote a blogpost about this teapot bike bell:
Teapot Bike Bell (by [Zakkaliciousness])
and when someone asked where they could get one we found them on kid's bike websites in Canada and the US. In Copenhagen it's an adult accessory. A fashionable style choice aimed at personalising the bike that you sit on day in, day out.

Sights like this:
Personalised Bikeness (by [Zakkaliciousness]) personal style (by [Zakkaliciousness]) I Heart Copenhagen (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Bikeshop Rainbow (by [Zakkaliciousness])
are also a clear indication that bike accessories are also fashion accessories.

With that said I have noticed, however, that more and more cool bikes are on the market. It's as though a century of black bikes is over and colours are splashing out onto the streets.
Sights like this: [click to see them larger at Flickr]
Bike and Fashion Match (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Fashion Match (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Fashion Match (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Pinkaciousness (by [Zakkaliciousness])
are more and more commonplace. Fashion accesories and clothing are being chosen to match the bike. It's cheaper to buy a scarf or gloves or blouse to match your bike that to buy a new bike to match your clothes...:-)

Colours are not necessarily the only fashion matching issue. There is, of course, the question of whether the bike matches your personality. And what your bike says about who you are, fashion-wise.

Do you prefer a beat-up old Raleigh or a stylish new Velorbis or Batavus Diva? It's a pressing question for any Copenhagener.

These are good examples of how a style of bike is reflected in the style of the cyclist: [click to see them larger at Flickr]
Orange, Pink and Blue * (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Adverts * (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Flower Box (by [Zakkaliciousness]) Waiting * (by [Zakkaliciousness])

A trend is underway in Copenhagen, after more than a century of bike culture. We welcome it. More fashion consciousness on the bike lanes.

Style over speed.


Gratistotal said...

Here in Spain, bike is a fashion accesorie. But even a transport.

Gary Burkholder said...

I totally agree with the your perception of cyclists/cycling in the States.

In the US bike culture needs to overcome obstacles caused by widespread use (over use) of automobiles. With government interest in bike sharing starting to sprout up in some of our larger cities, all we need is a successful program in one city which should then spread.

S. said...

My bike is not necessarily an accessory but, it does become part of my outfit...a statement, an attitude.

However, here in Toronto, I ride a beat up old bike because anything that looks shiny and new will get stolen. Bike thieves are bold crack-heads who will steal a bike from your front porch and sell it for $5 for their next fix.

Colville-Andersen said...

indeed, gary. great to see some interest in bike sharing programmes in the states.
the Copenhagen City Bike programme featured in the link is, however, mostly for tourists. most locals have bikes. the parisian scheme, on the other hand, is a great one since locals are using the bikes.
if paris and barcelona can do it, why not an american city?

here, bike thieves are your neighbour who, drunk on a saturday night, nicks a bike in order to get home.

Anonymous said...

to throw in my two cents...
i think anything has the ability to be an accessory, regardless of whether its function is established or not.

cars are, for many, transport as well, but people still buy according to their tastes and in the context of their vehicle as an accessory to their personal style.

same could be said for the iPod...

Colville-Andersen said...

absolutely, antonio. i agree.

what i found interesting was that after a century of bike culture, there is a fashion-based trend regarding bikes in the works here in copenhagen. the likes of which we haven't seen before.