words and photos by Anastasia Schneider
I'm a designer and have been scavenging the lots for second hand clothing across borders; mostly US and Canada for myself and work. Whether it’s Goodwill, a local thrift shop like Gracies (in AZ), or Village de Valeurs or Fripe-Prix Renaissance (in QC), I keep an eye out for fashion must-haves and one of a kind treats. Basic mantra: Be yourself, be comfortable, be exceptional, and be honest about your economic bracket.
Recently I thought, why not comb the stash for DIY cycling outfits?
We all know by now (or should have some kind of awareness) about “fast fashion” it’s pitfalls and the enormous waste this industry creates. The idea of recycling clothes, up-cycling and reusing textile garments has been around a while now. I glance down at the cover of July 1994 National Geographic mag featuring a laborer, pushing a trolley back dropped by a multi-story mass of out-cast garments. That mass of worn clothing is stunning but what it represents is nothing short of a call to action. Why buy/make new clothes? Constantly plagued with this cyclical question, especially acute on the receiving end as a designer/maker, I’m directed instead to my own actions, my consumption choices.
If I can find such great deals on everything else with a little more time, resourcefulness and luck, why couldn’t I find great cycling gear? Not one to follow trends or fads, I set out with $30 and got together a few outfits. These would be by no means suited for triathlons or long distances and suitable for all climates but after some editing (read: pillaging) I put together the following looks.
Be open minded, have fun. When you seek out alternative, fun, affordable, functional cycling wear, you borrow from different worlds. I got a bathing suit bottom, leggings, active wear top, dance wear top, and adidas soccer swag. Also a Makita cap.
Rules of the road:
1. Crack Kills. Make sure your pants/bottoms work for you if you got that reach going on. Thank goodness those unflattering high-waisted pants are selling again. And wait-I found a short featured here, that IS actually flattering. I’ll be…
2. Certain colors look reaaaaaal bad when you sweat. I’ve got a love hate relationship with black, but mostly love. Some fabrics in pale tones might actually turn transparent. Layer up, feel the weight of the fabric. Dark tones tend to be more flattering on uneven skin texture, something to think about for the waist down. Patterns also help add visual interest without pulling attention to silhouette.
3. Look at your fiber content. No, not just on your food intake. Check out your performance finds for nylon/microfiber nylon, spandex, elastane, lycra, polyester and if you’re lucky to get padding in the intimate zone, chamois is fairly popular. Cotton blends exist in certain items and work out great (in some dance wear, for example) but you’re going to want to wisk away that moisture and not be that soggy, unhappy rider once you get to your destination. Some high-end brands also develop their own patented fibers. You can look for Lululemon or Danskin on your hunt, for example. There are also bamboo and recycled polyester blends that are fabricated for performance wear particularly good for moisture management.
4. Be careful where you sit. As much as that may sound restrictive, you’ll be happier when your bottom doesn’t look like a fleece jacket or running nylons. With certain performance wear blends (even ones that are more resilient than ever) you have to be careful with rough surfaces, pool edges, rough ground or floors.
5. Sun Kills. I don’t know if this is a new thing, to promo clothing for it’s UV protection but I’ll be darned if I didn’t protect the majority of my epidermis from UV damage with stylish apparel. We all have different levels of melanin and ideas of modesty. Just nice to know there’s something for everyone. Trouble areas we tend to forget, shoulders, back of neck, arms. Many textiles for performance/active/cycling wear now boast a UPF 50+ sun protection.
6.Cars also Kill. But other times, they are just those annoying bullies that we need to overcompensate for. Something fun about all these outfits, are that there’s always one piece of neon in it. Sure you do your part with your bike reflectors, lights and helmet, but why not add a little jazz to those grey street ways? A little hooting and hollering may result, however, crowd management is an article in and of itself. Don’t be a bike ninja, I’ve heard them say.