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Rediscovering Cycling Imprints in the Fashion Industry

By Adam Marsal

Following the articles about cycling with funny animals, Arnold Schwarzenegger and UFOs, we searched the internet to find traces of cycling legacy in the fashion design. Who’s been the world’s mightiest fashion dictator, standing firmly in the two-wheel background? The Rapha company founder, Karl Lagerfeld or Kim Kardashian?

Simon Mottram

Back in 2001, Mr Mottram founded his own bicycle apparel brand because he lacked high-quality materials on the market. Today, Rapha belongs to the most praised brands in the cycling industry. And also the most loathed. The trendsetting company has a remarkably polarising effect on the cycling society, dividing riders into two separate groups. While the first is spending a fortune on new cycling accessories, the other is accusing them of cycling snobbism. Mr Mottram not only made people pay 450 Euros for shorts and shirts for doing sport but, on top of it all, he sold his brand to the Walmart heirs for £200m last year, which gives the fashion story a happy ending.

Ludovica Diligu

Milan-based fashion designer loves what Albert Einstein once said: “Life is like riding a bike. To stay in balance, you have to move.” And so she turned her last year collection into a moving show on two wheels. A cycling enthusiast and a daily commuter, Ludovica teamed up with local bicycle manufacturer Taurus and developed colourful garments that suited their tailor-made bicycles perfectly. Instead of sending them to the catwalk, she introduced her work in the streets of the Italian city while the Milan Fashion Week was running. The Labo.Art company founder said that she hadn’t intended to become another cycling brand and that the event was all simply about aesthetics, quality and modernity, without forgetting the historicity. We can’t get much of this talk and we don’t understand fashion either, so we interpreted the idea that she did it just for fun. And that counts.

The Bike Defilee at the Milan Fashion Week

Karl Lagerfeld

One of the greatest fashion designers of all time was a man of strong statements. Once asked if he could possibly move back home to Germany, he answered no because it was too close to Poland. We don’t feel like being in a position to judge neither his words nor his work but while searching in the archives, we found a surprising fact. Obsessed with LYCRA, he sent supermodels, such as Linda Evangelista, down the runway in glittering jackets with black cycling shorts for Chanel’s summer 1991 collection. This year, we’re actually experiencing cycling shorts comeback in the fashion industry as the inspiration can be seen in Saint Laurent, Off-White, Dion Lee or Dolce & Gabbana collections but thirty years ago, Karl was the first designer to make cycling shorts a desirable item even outside the cycling community. And that’s cool.

Kim Kardashian

We saw her in LYCRA shorts of an unlimited variety of colours and in one impressive size only. It was her whom fashion media called responsible for bringing cycling shorts back to the spotlight, similarly like Karl Lagerfeld some years before. Counting days spent dressed in spandex, Kim could easily challenge Chris Froome which makes her indisputable cycling queen of the non-cycling scene.

Kim Kardashian in 2016. © Profimedia, Backgrid USA