Buy Less Clothing. This could come across as a strange statement from someone who owns an apparel company, but hear me out. It’s not a new concept; after all, Patagonia pioneered the ‘Buy Less’ approach many decades ago, but I’m coming at it from a cycling perspective.
I’ve been riding mountain bikes for 30 years, from XC to Dirt Jumping, DH to Enduro and all the styles and fashions that went hand in hand with those over the years. Embarrassing photos of me in ‘90s fluro lycra are in amongst those of me racing in moto-inspired ‘race pyjamas’, but what has taken hold in the last couple of years is how little has changed.
Okay, so very few mountain bikers are in fluro lycra anymore (thankfully) but in terms of apparel styling, things are still following the very same path that they did over 10 years ago. Outside of a few smaller brands looking to change things,the sports clothing aesthetic pushed by the big players still dominates the market.
There isn’t anything wrong with this of course. Many of my friends like the ritual of getting kitted up for a ride, donning the uniform that identifies you as a mountain biker. I was of the same mindset until more recently, when many people I knew started to go running instead of picking up the bike if they had a spare moment. The reason? Simplicity. It was easier to grab some trainers and go for a quick run than spend fifteen minutes getting ready for a ride that may only be one hour long.
This started a train of thought. Why, in this age of tubeless tyres and amazingly reliable bikes, should we not be able to get home from work, grab the bike and helmet and go straight out. Forget a backpack full of tools and tubes. The bare essentials could be strapped to the bike and if you are only going out for a quick blast and if trouble hit you would never be far from home.
The next thought in the train was clothing. Mountain bike clothing works better than regular clothing because it’s breathable, stretchy, dries quickly and allows freedom of movement. But what if your regular clothing could do that? What if you could be wearing the same clothes at work and when you got home, or in a lunch break, you could head straight out for a ride?
If that was the case then surely this breathable, stretchy, quick-drying regular clothing could also be used for other outdoor activities such as running, climbing or trips down to the pump track on the BMX. If it looks like your regular clothing then wearing it around town, picking up the kids from school, or to the pub also become possible.
No need to turn up at the trailhead, spend time putting on riding clothes only to then feel slightly awkward in the pub at the end of the ride, sipping beer in clothes that nobody wants to wear off the bike. I’m being facetious, but I think most would agree there is a grain of truth in there.
Of course, there are a lot of variables. XC or DH racing or bike park sessions can warrant specific clothing, but for the majority of rides I think the time has come for us to be wearing clothing that looks, for want of a better word, more ‘normal’.
If the clothing we wear on the bike follows the same trends and fashions as the clothing we wear off the bike, yet will work just as well as our riding clothing, then one set of clothes will perform the same task as two or three previously. It just makes sense to us: buy less, buy better, and most importantly? Ride more.