On Your Bike
Words: Becky Burgum
Cyclists are more common than hipster beards in Dalston. You can catch creatives on their fixed-gear bicycles gliding down any east London road at any given time, but never more so than on the sunniest days when they’re inevitably headed towards Broadway Market for a spot of brunch, before setting up camp at London Fields to sunbathe and crack open a Red Stripe.
Practicality, however, is not the reason east London’s most popular park is set to see an influx of cycle short wearers this summer. After appearing on Paris runways in September, and with Kim K as the most high profile sporter of the 80s trend, these stretchy numbers have made their way into every UK ‘must-have’ list after being given the seal of approval last week by East End-based stylist, Leah Abbott, responsible for all of R&B singer Jorja Smith’s recent killer tour looks.
Abbott styled Smith in the London label LAPP’s track one-piece at Coachella two months ago (the most literal interpretation of this cycling theme so far). She herself opts to glam up plain Nike bike shorts and a baggy T-shirt with a furry Louis V mini-bag when back in the UK. “London is definitely influenced by the need to keep up with the fast pace,” Abbott says of the capital’s love of sporty fashion, describing it as casual, “but with a lot of sauce, of course!”
Homerton-based designer, Paolina Russo, featured repurposed athletic equipment and cycling shorts in the Central Saint Martins BA collection that won her the L’Oreal Professionnel Young Talent Award last week, and says, “I love cycling shorts because they make everyone’s butt look good!”
Soon enough, bike shorts will be another east London classic, whether you cycle or not. They may also just be the most practical, feminist summer trend we’ve seen in years. They’re pain-free – unlike the wedgie-inducing cut-off Levi’s or toe-crushing mules – and can be worn by all body shapes comfortably. You no longer have to compromise between style or cycling practicality when you roll up to Pub on the Park, and you can run wild and free on the grass, cartwheeling your days away, without any park pervs getting a sneak peak of your underwear. Potential camel toe is the only real worry but the total lack of thigh chafing (too real a struggle in this tropical heatwave) more than makes up for it.
In the year marking the centenary of many women gaining the right to vote, it feels apt that these empowering and practical numbers are back. Time to pedal ahead of the pack and lead the revolution.