Help me fathom the bike/fashion nexus


Why is the bicycle this season’s fashion accoutrement? These are photos I took in Florence, around the fashionable quarter, where the wrong bike for those shoes could bring the whole look undone. I imagine these two-wheelin’ flâneurs buying bikes that have been bashed up and pre-oxidized, in the same artisan workshop where their $800 jeans, were likewise artfully stressed, to within a thread of falling apart. Are designers telling the clients who come to them to learn how to dress: “Darling, I don’t think a coaster brake is right for you. Let me see you on something that has a derailleur.” But my real question, is what lay behind the fashion world’s sudden adoption of bikes, and vintage bikes in particular? Why is cyclin’ so freakin’ chic’?

My theory is that the dilapidated bike tells tourists, and those from the burbs, that its rider actually lives here, among all the funky shops and cafes. Furthermore, their citizenry here in their old hood, dates back as far as their bike. And even back then they were too highly principled to have ever gone in for white flight. A whole mythology can be alluded to, with the right bike.

I’m seeing bikes as symbols of fashionable values. One could plonk an old tractor in a store, and drape it with blue jeans, but the result would lack the particular evocations being sought using bikes. Or am I being too cynical of my own kind?

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