Vélo + Couture = Bikes + Fashion
April 23, 2009 11:36 AM   Subscribe

The Vélocouture flickr pool. Over 1600 photos of stylish (and, uh, "differently-styled") bike fashion, from the hipster to the formal, the casual, the young, the old old-timey, the new old-timey, and much, much more. There's also a blog.
posted by dersins (37 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bikes are good. Knickers are practical. I don't care if hipsters latched onto them. If I could justify buying traditional wool knickers, I would. (I've already got a good pair of baggy knickers full of pockets, but can't find that company's link)
posted by ardgedee at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, if there's a BLOG about it, then it must be significant.

Seriously, though, neat. Romanticizing the bicycle is chicken soup for Our Difficult Times. Now we need more freight train hopping! Okay, maybe not.
posted by dammitjim at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2009


I like 3/4 length pants quite a lot for my riding-to-work needs. That is all.
posted by everichon at 12:13 PM on April 23, 2009


for a moment I thought this was about velociraptors... I guess bikes are cool too, but they can't eat you....
posted by HuronBob at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apparently "Velocouture" is French for "riding a bike without a helmet". How very hip.
posted by gurple at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bikes are for local travel, and trains are for longer distances. Buses, trolleys and the like are for the middle ground.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on April 23, 2009


Excellent resource to match my newly-purchased 1966 Raleigh Superbe with my wardrobe!

Off to find some knickers...
posted by backseatpilot at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2009


Is this something I'd have to know how to ride a bike to understand?
posted by now i'm piste at 12:31 PM on April 23, 2009


I'm pretty sure that old-fashioned wool Metafilter bike jerseys would be haute couture. (This company also made my bike knickers, previously mentioned, but it looks like they're being discontinued).
posted by ardgedee at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am also in the 3/4 length or knicker camp. My current favorites are Chrome Shins.
posted by brand-gnu at 12:34 PM on April 23, 2009


...and I'd like to second gurple's comment. Where the hell are their helmets?!?!
posted by brand-gnu at 12:35 PM on April 23, 2009


Where the hell are their helmets?!?!

Right here.
posted by dersins at 12:39 PM on April 23, 2009


European drivers are better at not slaughtering cyclists with their cars, so helmets aren't as prevalent there.

Even here in the US I don't wear mine in every situation, and the main reason I do, when I do, is because I know that car drivers don't see bikes.
posted by padraigin at 12:41 PM on April 23, 2009


ardgedee -- I am also trying to justify buying myself a pair of the Bicycle Fixation wool knickers. I think that if I discovered the knickers earlier in November, when wool buying setniments are stronger, I would've had no problem with ordering a pair, but it's a little weird contemplating a purchase as we head into summer. For now, I'm fine with repurposing rock climbing pants for that purpose.

Some bike commuter friends and I are sort of bemused by the whole new Dutch bike meme. I mean, on one hand -- yay for new attention to practical cycling. On the other hand, why so heavy/chunky? Sport touring bikes get you all of the practical benefits of being able to mount racks and fenders for the week day, but can then shed all of that for long, fast weekend rides. As chic as Dutch bikes are, they wouldn't be my first choice for a 30 mile apple picking / farmstand pillaging trip.
posted by bl1nk at 12:44 PM on April 23, 2009


This is cool. Just this afternoon I saw a guy who I thought was far to well dressed to be riding a bike in the Midwest. Well, shoot. I guess you can't be too well dressed to ride a bike and that is awesome.

Helmets? I wear one, but not because strangers tell me I have to.
posted by Science! at 12:44 PM on April 23, 2009


I wear jeans and hawaiian shirts and mail-man sneakers ("walkers") with grey socks on my daily commute.

I did buy a Brooks saddle, but in my defense, it cost half again as much as the bike. It's a 70's 10-speed Raleigh Record Ace I bought from a guy who rescued it from a dumpster. He asked me if I was going to turn it into a fixie, and I said, no, I was gunna turn it into 21speed with a seven cog freewheel and a salvaged triple crank! Moar geerz!

I also put a super-tall quill and a set of beach-cruiser bars on, and zip-tied a LED flashlight to the stem for my headlight.

Say it loud, say it proud, "I'm a Fred, and I'm allowed!"
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:48 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some bike commuter friends and I are sort of bemused by the whole new Dutch bike meme. I mean, on one hand -- yay for new attention to practical cycling. On the other hand, why so heavy/chunky? Sport touring bikes get you all of the practical benefits of being able to mount racks and fenders for the week day, but can then shed all of that for long, fast weekend rides. As chic as Dutch bikes are, they wouldn't be my first choice for a 30 mile apple picking / farmstand pillaging trip.

Not everyone who rides a bike around town goes on long, fast weekend rides, or in fact has any desire to embark on a 30 mile apple picking / farmstand pillaging trip. And taking the time and trouble to install / remove various components depending on what they're doing that day? Why bother with that when all they want to do is travel a mile or two across town to the grocery store, farmer's market, park, or whatever. ?

The Dutch-style bikes enable them to do this with a minimum of fuss, in a comfortable, high-visibility (both seeing AND being seen by often-careless drivers) upright posture, while not having to worry about rolling up pant legs, securing shoelaces, etc.

Also, can we please not call stuff "memes" when it happens in, y'know, real life? It's a "trend," or even a "fad", if you must use a pejorative term, but "meme?" Please don't.
posted by dersins at 12:55 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


> The Dutch-style bikes enable them to do this with a minimum of fuss, in a comfortable, high-visibility (both seeing AND being seen by often-careless drivers) upright posture...

I like Dutch-style bikes and approve of their increasing popularity; it makes bikes cool even when they're not built to go gonzo. The problem with them in many American cities, though, is that the weight, relaxed seat angle, and upright rider's posture can make the bike squirrely going down hills and a tough haul going up. Things like fenders (or full-on wheel skirts) and chain cases can be put on any bike.

Old-fashioned three-speed bikes with high road handlebars are a good compromise between the go-fast bikes we're used to seeing and classic Dutch bikes, and are often built for fenders, chainguards, and the rest.
posted by ardgedee at 1:03 PM on April 23, 2009


no worries, dersins -- I just use 'meme' because most of our local exposure to this has been from electronic media -- flickr pools, the NY Times fashion article that came out a week or so back, the continuous recirculating of dutch bike links, etc. in New England, the presence of actual Dutch bikes on the street is still far outnumbered by the number of fixed gears, which reduces its profile as a fashion trend.

all the same, it's a little disingenuous to imply that you must have a Dutch bike before you can wear sensible clothes on a bicycle. My larger point is that the many bikes that exist today are perfectly useful for city living as well as other pursuits if the owner should so fancy them. People have and do commute year round on mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes with panniers, fenders and kickstands long before the first Amsterdam Electra was imported to this continent.

If this fad gets a few more riders on the street, who genuinely want to include the bicycle in their lifestyle, which then builds towards the critical mass of participation in redeveloping urban infrastructure to be more bike friendly, then hooray!

but if it just results in a ton of people trying out some cycling, but then giving it up in frustration because the stylish, chic town bike they bought is just too chunky and heavy to use on a regular basis, thus adding another data point in the argument of "biking is hard!" then not so much with the hooray.
posted by bl1nk at 1:16 PM on April 23, 2009


Those wool knickerbocker pants are sweet. I would get buy a bike solely to justify owning those pants.
posted by cazoo at 1:18 PM on April 23, 2009


DIY knickers, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by cog_nate at 1:27 PM on April 23, 2009


another stylish cyclist
posted by needled at 1:34 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's a little disingenuous to imply that you must have a Dutch bike before you can wear sensible clothes on a bicycle

Not what I said or what I meant to imply. Of course you can install more upright handlebars, fenders, chain guards, lights, cargo rack, etc. on many different kinds of bike. The Dutch-style bike is easier, though-- especially for the casual cyclist-- by virtue of already coming with all that stuff.

The casual or beginning cyclist frequently starts out a little intimidated by bike shops, and it's simply easier to choose a bike that already has everything they need on it. That's just a single decision to make, not a series of 12 decisions where often their only authoritative guide* is either a 22-year-old uber-hipster with a bright-white fixie and retardedly skinny jeans, or a road-biking enthusiast in full spandex who thinks that $5000 is perfectly reasonable to spend on a bike.

Also, the Dutch-style bikes just plain look better. Not only in their classic lines, they're (also mostly) not as busy with stupid graphics and branding plastered all over them.

*You and I both know that this isn't true. Most good, local bike shops are staffed by really helpful, really nice, non-judgmental people who really know their shit. But some aren't. And, more importantly, the beginning cyclist is afraid that's who's working there.
posted by dersins at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2009


I gotta say, I would love a fiets for the geometry. I commute in all kinds of clothes, but the leaned-forward riding position of both my bikes makes any tailored kind of top (jackets, shirts, etc) really uncomfortable. Not that theres no workarounds, but it would be nice to be able to throw on 'nice' evening-out clothes and jump on a bike that doesn't throw the whole outfit into disarray.

Yes, I know this is an exquisitely first-world sort of "problem".
posted by everichon at 1:51 PM on April 23, 2009


I mostly contribute old time pictures to the pool. My outfits are not nearly so stylish. Shirt: swag from bike race. Shorts: Target. Socks: Smartwool irregular. Sneaks: Adidas.
posted by fixedgear at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2009


Actually, the dutch bike is a bit old-hat in the Retro-Grouch corner of Bicycle Culture at the moment - lugged steel french-style "Porteur" frames designed for 650b wheels are where it's at now.

Rivendell and Kogswell make some darn fine ones. Internal geared hubs with 8 or more speeds are also hot right now.

The dutch bike is a bit too heavy for most American cities with hills and a bit too silly looking to American eyes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2009


I love the look of the Dutch/city bikes, but when I went shopping for a commuter bicycle a few weeks ago, ended up with what I guess is considered a hybrid or cross. It's a pretty light, zippy little thing, and I've got a rack installed and pannier to carry stuff. (I was joking to my husband that the U-lock weighs more than the bike does.) Certainly not fashionable, but neither will I be in my sweaty biking clothes and helmet. Hooray for shower facilities at the office!

Also, as a beginning cyclist I found my bike shop to be staffed with pleasant and very helpful people. I told them what I wanted the bike for (an 8-mile each way commute to work via the lake shore path plus riding around town with my husband) and they told me what would work best in my price range. I was planning to spend several weekends shopping around, but they were so helpful I ended up buying it on the spot.
posted by misskaz at 2:29 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am jealous of how handsome my boyfriend looks in a bike helmet. I think it is the beard. From an aesthetics point the large beard balances out the plastic foam helmet quite nicely. I look goofy in a helmet, but I'd look even goofier with a beard so I'm okay with just the helmet.
posted by collocation at 2:34 PM on April 23, 2009


I actually was approaching this with dread, but I am happy to say that I heartily approve of the fashions these bicyclists are wearing. But then again, anything is better than the oh-my-god-so-tacky lycra outfits cyclists wear while going up the local mountains.
posted by happyroach at 2:41 PM on April 23, 2009


dersins -- I think that we're talking past each other. basically, we agree that there is a spot in the marketplace for an urban bicycle that has fenders, kickstands, racks and a relaxed, comfortable geometry. There's no reason why a Trek or Surly or Raleigh could make such a bicycle with, say, aluminum instead of steel or with practical but "non-classic" features like disc brakes and sell that through conventional channels.

And, yes, I agree that bike shops can be intimidating, but it's not any different from the way computer stores or automobile showrooms are staffed with a mixed bag of salesmen. I'd be somewhat skeptical of the idea that a dutch bike store will, by default, be staffed with non-elitist, non-fashionista, non-hipster sales people.

to tag on to Slap*Happy's trendspotting meme, constructeur 650b bikes are also very 2007. Personally, my expectations for the near future amongst vintage enthusiasts is that the 650b fascination with wider tire sizes will lead into a fascination with country bikes and dirt-road bike camping.
posted by bl1nk at 2:41 PM on April 23, 2009


happyroach: If you are doing any kind of performance cycling in any weather over let's say 70 degrees F, the lycra stuff is the only practical choice.

It's unnecessary for commuting, though, certainly.
posted by pts at 3:02 PM on April 23, 2009


I guess bikes are cool too, but they can't eat you....
My wind pants disagree with you.
posted by Decimask at 3:19 PM on April 23, 2009


I bike commute, and I wouldn't do well with a dutch bike--too heavy/bad gearing for the hills around here. I ride a old hybrid that's no lightweight, but at least it's got gearing low enough so that it doesn't matter as much.

I wish I could bike in street/work clothes, but I just get too sweaty with the hills and all. I don't wear lycra, though--that stuff's expensive. Just give me a wicking t-shirt from Wal-Mart. Bike specific wear is overpriced IMO. An exception--I do own a few pairs of bike shorts, either gifts, bought on sale, or handmade by my lovely wife.

The latter means that I own the only non-black pair of men's bike shorts that I've ever seen, not that I get around much.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:29 PM on April 23, 2009


Woot! Me like bikes!
posted by Mister_A at 4:16 PM on April 23, 2009


Well, new-school cool for the MTB set are single-speed 29'er hardtails, and those are starting to be re-worked into commuters and comfort bikes, so we're most of the way there. Cyclocross bikes make damn fine touring steeds that aren't afraid of the dirt or of going fast, too. Long-haul trail bikes are a small step from either.

The retro-grouches are still madly in love with 650b and big front racks, tho, and the pro bike crazies are starting to figure out how to make money schlepping things on their cargo bikes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:54 PM on April 23, 2009


I'm waiting for my drop bar rigid 29er full-fendered Rohloff to arrive in the mail. Then I will be at the peak of bike fashion, riding around in my levis and polar fleece.
posted by anthill at 6:51 PM on April 23, 2009


A photographer staked out a popular commuter route in Portland and took these pics.

I used to ride a MTB to work, but my new mixte is so much nicer to ride in a skirt.

As for the helmet issue, I wear mine (except yesterday when I forgot to wear it home.) I always take my helmet off if I"m getting photographed because helmets look dorky when you're not actually on a bike.
posted by vespabelle at 8:52 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


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