Well, we've been watching for a few years now, with select fashion models and so-called image icons riding around town casually on their bikes.
It's been a more or less three-year phenomenon, with bikes now coming into fashion so much so that the riders don't wear lycra, special shoes or even helmets when they dash around town.
Almost as if to add an exclamation point to the trend, February's issue of Harper's Bazaar has a whole spread with a model cycling with (or without) her pretend boyfriend.
It's actually an extremely tasteful spread with great looking, colorful clothing. The model is wearing high heels in all the pictures, as well as colorful skirts that would look really bad and in fact be ruined by a spot of grease.
To see this spread however, you'll have to buy the magazine on the newstands, because this particular fashion piece is not online.
One clear indicator that fashion still has no idea what cycling is, the bikes they used are not a well known brand, and all of them appear to be steel three speeds. Possibly this is because it was the only bike brand they could get for free for the shoot.
A little investigation revealed that the bike brand Linus currently makes four models of bikes, and the one used by the Harper's Bazaar model in one picture is a three speed with back pedals for brakes! She's wearing high heels and one foot planted on the ground! Now that makes for a good back story.
However, you have to give Harper's Bazaar credit for the choice of the bike. On the Linus Bike website, they write that this model, the Roadster Classic, is a "stripped down, elegant ride is the bicycle in its purest form...a simple, clean profile inspired by French and Italian cinema from the 50’s and 60’s."
That it is: with its steel, cream colored, narrow frame, and rounded handlebars with leather look brown handles, they have a look of real elegance. And their price at $389 is definitely democratic, with the most expensive bike on their site about $550. Still I wonder how many chicas in high heels will be able to pedal backwards to stop.
The use of a low cost bike is also a warm welcome from previous attempts by the fashion industry to throw fashion at the art of bike manufacture by creating expensive bikes that have more fashion incorporated in their frames than function.
Chanel's $17,000 bike was resold on some sites for up to $28,000 reported the Purse Blog. Most of the extras on the bike were made to ensnare fashionistas, like fancy bags and handlebars.
But little could be said about the clunky-looking frame. Okay, it has nice fenders, and a great looking pump and a classic 1940's style lamp on the front, but hardly worth the chunk of change being asked.
There was also the Hermes bicycle for about $3,500, admittedly with gorgeous WWII lines, a sweepingly rounded top tube, and retro dark steel colors with luggage brown accessories and details. That bike had great looks, but was heavy and not the kind of bike you could book away from a speeding vehicle with.
Gucci also came out with a $6,300 bike, much less attractive than the Hermes, though it has the Gucci name on the side--a big seller for Gucci slaves. But it's hard to imagine real Gucci fashionistas getting on a bike, let alone walking down the street in their towering spike heels. Hailing a cab or stepping into a limo is more like it. And what with all the sweat, and the cars! Oh my! I have yet to see a Gucci horse sporting a Gucci bike.
That difficult relationship is also reflected in the inherent contradiction of the bikes themselves. With prices all over the place and no clear relationship between price and the function or design of the bicycle and its components, it's no wonder that making fashion bikes went out of fashion as quickly as it came in.
That's not to say that Louis Vuitton wasn't a trend setter in integrating bicycles with fashion. Much of the emphasis on bike and fashion at Vuitton comes from LVMH chairman Renaud Dutreil who rides a black Dutch Gazelle bicycle to work every day in his pinstripes.
Dutreil has been amazingly supportive of cycling in the city, acting as a judge in Transportation Alternative's New Amsterdam Bike Slam last year that was so successful.
This past spring they sponsored a contest at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to create stylish, practical and affordable bike gear. The results of the contest were pretty disappointing: the students didn't seem to get it.
We think the marriage of bikes and fashion has a long way to go.