Batwoman Bike Cape Mates Wool and Recycled Polyester

Seen at the London Cycle Chic blog is the Orenna Reversible Pleated Cape by designer Claire Smith from the London College of Fashion. Designers large and small are starting to create bike-friendly fashion. At TreeHugger we think neither women nor men necessarily need special clothing to ride in cities - but it is great when fashion designers concoct stuff suitable for biking (more pics after the jump). Smith created this poncho from wool on one side and water-resistant recycled polyester on the other (subtle Scotchbrite reflective tape provides some visibility when night riding) and she wants to hear from TreeHugger readers - could you see yourself riding in this style-meets-function versatile cape? (The black-cat eye markings are completely optional, of course)
Not as eye-catching as the Orenna, but loaded with features, from Jessica Velasquez, winner of the fashion company LMVH's bike design challenge. Graphic via NYT.

Smith is hopping on to a bike fashion wave that is quite exciting to see. In big bike towns Amsterdam and Copenhagen, as women">commenters have been quick to note, people ride in their regular clothes, even their formal clothes, and the trick is to have a Dutch-style city bike with the high handlebars which lets you ride relatively upright.

But what if your bike is more of a cruiser, a Bromton fold-up bike such as the model above, a repurposed racing bike or the beloved mountain bike you got years ago? Then some clothing - too tight of pants, or very short skirts - won't work very well and must be rejected or altered. In the LMVH design contest, the winners definitely blended an athletic-wear ethos with a bit of streetware flare.

Smith's cape is compelling because it does have a few functional elements - the fasteners at the back are magnetic so the cape will hang right, the polyester side is water-resistant, the Scotchbrite tape is safety-conscious - but it doesn't quite devolve to an athletic profile - you could see somewhere wearing it on the streets and in a restaurant.

The same can be said for Duckie Brown's Spring 2009 collection. Designers of the collection took the bike messenger as their starting point, and it shows, in a positive way (though most messengers probably couldn't afford this stuff). While the deadpan catwalk expressions make the clothes look a bit foo-foo, and the pricetags will take your breath away, the clothes themselves do combine style with functionality. It's nice to see the combination creeping into fashion. One last kudo to Smith - she did it and got the green element, too.

Like this story? Follow A.K. Streeter on Twitter and at girlsonbikes.org.

Read more on bike fashion at TreeHugger
Fashion Students Rise to Challenge of Making Cycling Stylish
Cycle Chic
Bike to World Pants: Now You See Me Now You Don't
6 Reasons the World Needs More Girls on Bikes

Tags: Biking

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