(Photos © J. Maus)
The fashion world and Portland’s bike scene will never be the same following Saturday’s Ready to Roll show. Produced by Momentum Magazine as a benefit for Oregon Manifest, the show helped put to rest the notion that in order to ride a bike, you have to wear spandex or neon (or both). And, for many of the professional models (who pedaled down the runway) and industry types in the crowd, it was an energetic and fun introduction to kinetic fashion.
“This is just a fun way to widen the perception of what cycling can look like.”
— Amy Walker, publisher of Momentum Magazine
The show was an official event of Portland Fashion Week. That meant this wasn’t the type of bike event many of you might be used to. For starters, the show happened way at the northern end of Swan Island in an industrial shipyard warehouse. That location, as well as ticket prices ($18.75 at the door) that were a bit steep for some, meant that the bike crowd wasn’t as thick as usual.
But that was actually just the point. This wasn’t about appealing to the bike crowd, this was about putting bikes and bike-specific fashion in front of the Northwest’s top style-makers and fashionistas. And on that account, the show was a smashing success.
The first sequence (that’s fashion show lingo for the opening act) featured the familiar faces of Portland’s beloved Team Beer along with local racer (and former UPS bike delivery-woman) Tina Brubaker. And, I must say, for a bunch of runway newbies, they nailed it.
Tina beamed as she confidently strutted her stuff in a Nau jacket and tight leggings astride a gorgeous Soma mixte. Kevin also sported a Nau jacket, and completed the look with a plaid flannel, striped socks, and of course, his Team Beer cap. John went for the serious and studly look in his big puffy jacket and black jeans. Kevin Beth and Danielle showed that ladies can ride in mini-skirts. Amber looked like a pro as she removed her jacket to reveal a tight-fitting, long-sleeve top and an eye-catching necklace.
On stage, they whooped it up, playfully interacting with each other and letting the crowd know that cycling is sexy — yet not too serious.
The professional models that followed seemed to feel the fun vibe and did their best — despite nerves from having to pedal and walk with a bicycle on the runway — to keep it going. One person in the crowd told me afterward that it was the first time he’d been to a fashion show “when all the models couldn’t help from smiling.”
Model Nedim Korkmaz from Turkey rolled out on a foldable Brompton. After he dismounted, he expertly flipped up the rear wheel, than flipped it back out — all while maintaining his focus on the lenses of the photographers. After the show, Korkmaz, who moved to Portland from Turkey back in January and rides “occasionally” to classes at Portland Community College, said he practiced the move several times before the show. “I wanted to show the crowd that a bicycle can be used different ways.”
Korkmaz and the other models looked amazing as they rode smoothly down the runway. It was exciting to see them wearing local brand names like Nutcase helmets, bags from Queen Bee, hand made shoes by Jeff Mandel, and clothes from Nau, Icebreaker and Castelli.
Bike industry companies were well represented (Sheila Moon and B. Spoke Tailor’s stuff was hot!), but not all the fashion was bike-specific. And, why should it be?
One woman (see below) stole the show in a red, flowing Betsey Johnson summer dress and sexy stiletto heels. When she first strolled down the runway, I thought, “Oh come on, that’s not bike fashion,” but by the end of her turn, I thought, “Hell yes!”.
The models weren’t the only ones looking fantastic on Saturday. The crowd and the bike racks were full of stylish folks. Here’s a bit of the off-runway action:
One face in the crowd was former Nike Vice President in charge of apparel Stephen Gomez. Gomez, who’s now on the BTA Board and just returned from a trip to Amsterdam and Copenhagen, said he felt the show “struck a good balance between fashion and fine-tuned bike clothing.”
“Bike fashion has really come from two places; messengers and the fashion world. Somewhere there will be a merger because they’re really coming toward each other now.”
— Stephen Gomez, former Nike VP of Apparel
I asked Gomez if fashionable clothes with bike-friendly details will ever be accessible enough for people without a big budget or friends in the industry. He said the problem is with the market. It’s just not big enough yet for a large company with the distribution and manufacturing channels to step in and make less expensive clothing a reality. “It’s a hybrid market between pure fashion and real riding. Adding performance is important, but fashion always tends to be expensive.”
Gomez added, “Bike fashion has really come from two places; messengers and the fashion world. Somewhere there will be a merger because they’re really coming toward each other now.”
Momentum Magazine publisher Amy Walker downplayed the fashion aspect of the show.
“We don’t care about fashion for fashion’s sake. We care about people riding bikes and they have to wear clothes. This is about expression… We express ourselves through clothing and it helps to have some examples so we’re creating that imagery. This is just a fun way to widen the perception of what cycling can look like.”
For more of the styles on and off the runway, watch the slideshow below or browse the gallery (gallery includes the Concours d Elegance event and afterparty):