About Vélocouture


In 2006 I made up the word “Vélocouture” as a title for the Flickr group I started. It was one of those things that took a couple minutes to think up, although obviously it was informed by much that had come before it. In the years since, the word hasn’t become a household word, exactly, although I suppose that depends on your household. It has begun to pop up here and there, though, and I was excited to hear about a fashion show in Berlin that held a Symposium Vélocouture as part of its events.

It appears there are some upcoming bike-related events as part of this program, as well, so take note if you are in the area.

See the whole story here.

Christiania story on Riders' Collective

A few weeks ago, my extensive post about our Christiania trike was republished in Riders’ Collective, an online magazine that collects content from around the internet and edits and redesigns it into a magazine format.

My Christiania article was featured in the November issue. Click here to download it.

I added a conclusion to the original text; for some reason, this new content was not included in the Riders’ Collective version, but you can read the new conclusion in the original post.

David #bikenyc 4
Seeking gender equality in all things here at Vélocouture. Photo by Flickr user Dmitry Gudkov in New York City

All across North America, bike advocacy groups will tell you the same thing: more men cycle than women. As a result, a major goal of many of those advocacy groups is to get more women on bikes. An article in Scientific American included this telling paragraph:

“Despite our hope that gender roles don’t exist, they still do,” says Jennifer Dill, a transportation and planning researcher at Portland State University. Addressing women’s concerns about safety and utility “will go a long way” toward increasing the number of people on two wheels, Dill explains.

Challenging this notion, all across the internet, the cycle chic blogs reverse the trend. More men may be on bicycles, but it appears that women are the ones wearing normal, stylish clothes and getting on their bikes.

Or maybe it’s that most of the cycle chic blogs are run by straight men, and they tend to turn their lenses in one direction more often than the other.

However you look at it, it’s an interesting “problem” to have. Could it be that vélocouture is a kind of bicycle advocacy? But before you think that women are the only ones who know how to ride with their clothes on, here are some examples we’ve seen of men looking good and going by bicycle. As always, these beautiful and inspiring photographs are provided by YOU. I am privileged to be your editor-in-chief and grateful for your continued interest. Onward:

Riding through the ghost town
Photo by Flickr user velvetboz in Seattle

Bike to School Day
Photo by Flickr user protorio in San Diego, California

break time
Photo by Flickr user theblueprint in Kent, Ohio

James. main. stop.
Photo by Flickr user kinamari in Santa Monica, California

Spring Panda
Photo by Flickr user Dapper Lad Cycles in Seattle

NYC Bicycle Commuter, Manh Br. @ Canal
Photo by Flickr user bicyclesonly in New York City

Photo by Flickr user Kristin Tieche in San Francisco

the boy rides by
Photo by Flickr user la fille en rose in Montréal

London Cycle Chic 08
Photo by Flickr user [Zakka / Mikael] in London

Amsterdam folder
Photo by Flickr user jeremyhughes in Amsterdam

moving right along
Photo by Flickr user poetas in Portland, Oregon

Photo by Flickr user sindändùne in MIlan

cargobike panda henry pascal 1
Photo by Flickr user henry in a’dam in Amsterdam

Stripey Cargo Parents
Photo by Flickr user velomama in Copenhagen

Quite a few dapper gents, there. And more to come, no doubt. Thanks for tuning in, and as always thanks for your contributions to the Vélocouture group!

An apple
Photo by Flickr user Yoav in Berlin

Behold September, as autumn unfurls her russet locks! Where did summer go? Here at Vélocouture we’ve been noticing a spike of interest in what people wear while pedaling their bikes — a blissfully tweedy explosion of bike fashion shows, bespoke knicker fittings, and stories in the media everywhere from the New York Times to good old BikePortland.org.

Maybe it’s that back-to-school feeling, or the new crop of summer cyclists thinking about how they’ll keep pedaling their way through the fall and into the winter. (Here in Portland, I suspect some of it may be due to the BTA’s always-popular Bike Commute Challenge.) Whatever the reason, it’s wonderful to see that North American cyclists are beginning to consider, and sometimes even embrace, the notion that you can wear regular clothing on your bike. But there is one thread that runs throughout all of this enthusiasm that makes us a bit wary, and that is the notion that there are now bike-specific street clothes: garments that can be worn on a bike yet “look like regular clothes.” We thought it was appropriate to speak up, because here at Vélocouture we have discovered a little secret technique to bicycling in clothing that looks like regular clothes.

Wear regular clothes.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that Nan Eastep of B. Spoke Tailor is crafting beautiful, handmade knickerbockers to fit each wearer. I personally am a big fan of Bicycle Fixation‘s wool knickers, and the next time I decide to pony up for a pair of brand new, American-made, high-quality wool gabardine knickerbockers, it’ll be because I have finally given in to the temptation of their gorgeous Herringbone Classics. (Or whoa! Check out these awesome shorts!)

Until that day arrives, I am enjoying shopping at the really excellent Goodwill down the street from my house. Because for urban transportational cycling, those are all the cycling clothes I need: clothes that fit me well, and make me feel and look good. Just like I’d wear anywhere else. That’s Vélocouture.

The problem is that this philosophy leaves very little for the bike companies to market or sell. But that’s not my problem. That’s their problem.

Wear what you like, ride what you like, and we’ll ring our bells when we meet on the street! Enjoy the fall.

Here are some photos that caught our eye during the month of August in the Vélocouture pool on Flickr.

WorkCycles Gr8 durgerdam (3)
Photo by Flickr user henry in a’dam in Amsterdam

Photo by Flickr user Lorena Cupcake in Columbus, Ohio

Photo by Flickr user kinamari in Venice, California

New Bike New City
Photo by Flickr user the coveted in Chicago

Adrienne. pico. go.
Photo by Flickr user kinamari in Santa Monica, California

City Cyclist
Photo by Flickr user Cameron Adams in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Red dress and sunnies
Photo by Flickr user jeremyhughes in Amsterdam

Be a part of Vélocouture! Submit your photos of well-dressed cyclists — yourself, or others — to the Vélocouture group on Flickr. Thanks to everyone who contributed this month.

An entirely unscientific overview of contributions to the Vélocouture group that particularly struck my fancy during the month of January, 2009. It seems like a good time to note that while the straw man says winter is a time to stay inside and roll on the trainers, the cyclists here demonstrate that you can bicycle your way through the winter, and do so with style and grace.

I’m Roxy dammit has a wonderful set of photos like this; click through this image to see more. The Tweed Cycling Club hosted a ride in London, and everyone dressed accordingly. Now, I would like to point out that we don’t generally go in for these kind of themed bike rides; our thinking is that Vélocouture is about going to and fro for transport’s sake, and looking good doing it. But I’m making an exception for these photos, because they simply must be seen and appreciated. It appears the Tweed Cycling Club has decided to take the themed-ride idea and use it to promote cycling with one’s clothes on. We salute their efforts and hope to see more.

Pillion in Paris
Jeremyhughes is a regular contributor to the Vélocouture group. He’s been spending some time in Paris lately, and clearly he’s been making the most of it. I love this couple’s dashing, relaxed style. The passenger looks like she’s blithely riding in a taxi—which, in a way, she is. (Cinematic foreshadowing: is that a chainguard on a bike with derailleurs front and rear? Hmmm…)

If only I had a disc wheel that looked like a pizza, this picture would be complete.
velvetboz manages to combine a fixed-gear trick and a regulation head-to-toe wardrobe_remix shot into a wicked and uniquely American dose of Vélocouture.

Serendipitous cycle moments
poetas gives us this lovely image of urban cycling from right here in Portland, Oregon. This photo captures a mild winter day on SE Clinton St, a popular bicycling thoroughfare with many good places to stop and people-watch or grab a cup of coffee. Here’s something I love about bikes-in-motion and fashion: you can tell that the cyclist up front on the left is wonderfully dressed, even with just a blurry silhouette. Love the boots!

scary biker gang
We close this month’s favorites with a glimpse of diddybelle84‘s recent stylish, pedal-powered night out with the ladies. Looks like fun!

Be a part of Vélocouture! Submit your photos of well-dressed cyclists — yourself, or others — to the Vélocouture group on Flickr. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Keep on pedaling in style.

Mom's taxi

Portland, Oregon. Photo by Patrick Barber

We coined the term “Vélocouture” for the name of a Flickr photo group that we started two years ago. Originally we wanted a place to collect and admire cool and stylish outfits worn by cyclists.

Nowadays, vélocouture is on its way to becoming a way of life. Bicycling — in everyday clothes — is catching on as a great way to get around here in North America. We like to think of it as “style that moves you,” or, when we’re feeling punchy, “bicycling with your clothes on.” Because you don’t need special equipment or technical clothing to get somewhere on your bike. You just need a bike. And why not ride in style?

We’re going to use this blog to feature some of our favorite photos from the Vélocouture photo group. We’ll also offer clothing tips and tricks that we’ve learned; show you beautiful and practical bikes and bike stuff that we find; and do our part to make stylish, transportational cycling an everyday practice.

Thanks for stopping by!