Yesterday evening i had the opportunity to present my findings from my 2+ year photo documentary of urban cyclists in London... i.e. cycle stalking :)
The event was hosted by Look Mum No hands, a cult bicycle cafe and repair shop located in East London. The event was organized by Philip Blaikie of Spoke, who organize talks about cycling with the aim to get more people on bikes. The presentation had to consist of 20 slides, of which i could speak for precisely 20 seconds per slide. For those who missed it, here it is here...
Three years ago i added a hashtag #GOSTYLEDOSE to my instagram feed. I was riding every day into down from Hackney and saw so much cool style on the streets that i decided to document it from my own bike. The following slides is a small edit of the images that i have collected. I have tried to organize them into trends so i could share with you some of my observations.
I love when people get really dressed up for cycling. Its a really european thing. I imagine people in amsterdam and copenhagen wearing much more 'normal' clothing when they are cycling. This to me, is a sign of real integration of cycling into society where it is more a means of transport than a sport.
Tweed is a symbolic English heritage material, and cycling has a long history in the UK. The tweed run is a fun London-based bike ride where hundreds of people get dressed up in old school attire, ride slowly around central london and picnic in the park. Its a visually amazing and civilised event coming up on the 14th of May. It is a celebration of traditional english styling both in clothing and bikes. I always see people wearing tweed on the roads in London and here are just a few of them.
From tweed to lycra, you couldn't get much different than these. I see lots of old school traditional lycra outfits but also the modern Rapha phenomenon is very much alive, both for men and women. Those commuting in from further afield than my 25 minute from Hackney usually need dress more appropriately. I know people who cycle for an hour or more each way which is pretty dedicated. Those people normally are up earlier on the streets and ride a lot faster!
I see more and more red around recently, or maybe its just so easy to spot. For mens and women, red is a great color for urban cycling due to its high visibility. I love when people have favorite colors and co-ordinate everything to match!
Denim makes so much sense for cycling because, as a natural fibre it breaths. Its perfect for urban cycling because it breathes and looks pretty cool too. Many brands have picked up on this such as Swerve, Vulpine, Levis, Rapha and Resolute Bay. There is fantastic blog post done by the Discerning Cyclist on the 10 best Jeans around for Men and Women. From a style perspective, i love seeing vintage denim jackets, denim bags and people of all ages wearing denim on bikes.
This slide doesn't need much explanation. Leopard and animal print in general is definitely alive and well on the bicycle. The more out there, the better. Especially nice when you see bags and clothes co-ordinating. Definitely a call out for Bookman's reflective leopard print stickers which i love.
Bright primary colors are a key trend for men's accessories these days. I particularly love the guy wearing the suit who looks like he's accidentally taken his kid's backpack to work. Except his true intentions are given away by the fact that he is wearing bright yellow socks! Bring on more colour!
Outdoor's inspired color comes from the world of snowboarding and surfing and into the world of cycling. I love these photo prints and psychedelic patterns. Women's leggings are always a source of inspiration and wonderment.
And from modern prints to classic stripes. People's taste and style can come through in all different levels of sporty-ness - from all over lycra through to t-shirts and sweat dresses!
Despite all the color around, black is definitely on the increase. Either that or all the goth's and emos have been given bicycles for christmas. Head to toe black looks were also all over the streets in berlin when i was there last month for Berliner Fahrradshau. Definitely the color of choice for the youth market.
The classic hipster is comfortable in its habitat in the east of London. He or she can be seen with a range of headwear from caps to beanies. On the rare occasion you can spot one wearing a helmet - usually of the metallic or matt variety.
A combination that seems to work - and there are many instagram accounts to prove it - one of which is called @bicyclesandbeards . I love seeing people i know when i'm out and about on my bicycle. Above on the right is Zulfi from great bike bag brand Vel-Oh and also works at Velorution. I see him zooming past me on a regular basis.
The most popular backpack on the streets these days is the Fjallraven Kanken. Proving that a simple, retro, unisex bag can be the one that everyone wants.
I take my helmet off to these guys who actually use their bicycles to earn a living. From the famous E5 bakery bike through to this guy on the left who seems to be lugging around a mobile bicycle storage unit. There are more and more cargo bikes around London which is great to see. I also think Florence from Petalon Flowers who is London's only mobile florist is a fantastic example. I love her tag line: Bouquets by Bicycle.
There is practical cargo and then there is crazy cargo. Dogs, chairs, lampshades, teddybears and didgeridoos. I love the creativity and quite frankly, courage - of how people use their bicycles to get their stuff (and dear pets) around town.
From people who throw caution to the wind of safety to those who are slightly more concerned about road safety like these in the above photos. You can never be too careful on the road, there are too many examples of journey's gone wrong to take safety for granted. Some of my favorite products like Blaze bike lights and Lumo - light up apparel are aimed and just this.
So, in conclusion. cyclists come in all shapes and sizes. They carry all sorts of things and every different kind of cyclist makes up this beautiful diverse cycling landscape that is my home town - London.
About the Author
Jacqui Ma is the Director of Footwear & Accessories at WGSN, she is also the founder and designer of cycling bag company Goodordering. With 10 + years working in product design, trends, and manufacturing, her expertise lies in fashion, accessories, footwear, innovation, business and content strategy.