fashion · fitness

News flash: fashion discovers that bike shorts are a thing

Even amidst all the COVID news and political strife news and racial injustice news and climate disaster news, sometimes there’s a bit of a lull. In that lull, journalists are searching for something, anything to write about that will satisfy our perceived need for news all the time.

Enter bike shorts as proposed fashion item.

A woman wearing bike shorts, a mask, a Balenciaga sweater, a Chanel purse, looking at her phone. In Paris.

The New York Times eagerly reports the latest pairings of the humble bike short with high-fashion runway looks:

So maybe bike shorts were always destined to have a moment in the summer of 2020. But as with 1,000-piece puzzles and sourdough bread, quarantine has given them new appeal: Bike shorts are a comfortable, practical item of clothing that can seamlessly transition through the vague shifts between work, exercise, worry and rest that characterize a life spent mostly at home.

Depending on whom you ask, bike shorts are an enlightened choice for the times or a tumble into a life of permanent sartorial laziness. Either way, they work.

4 images of models on the runway, each wearing bike shorts and about $10K worth of other clothing and shoes.
4 images of models on the runway, each wearing bike shorts and about $10K worth of other clothing and shoes.

The article burbles on:

Bike shorts, on the other hand, walk that careful line between loungewear and actual clothing. Plus, some have pockets. The fact that they are comfortable and form-fitting makes her feel tucked in and dressed, [an Instagram influencer] said.

Tess Gattuso, a 27-year-old writer and comedian in Los Angeles, took it a step further. “I think they’re super sexy,” she said. “I need that excitement in quarantine.”

Sexy? Exciting? Bike shorts? Do I detect just a tiny bit of an overreach here? I get it– it’s mid-August. Even in the middle of these unbelievable times, there’s just less to report on. And people have to make a living. So okay– bring on the bike shorts.

I might add that this is not the first time the New York Times covered a high-fashion/humble activewear collabo with such enthusiasm. In early summer 2019, they wrote about how Tevas (the utilitarian sandal) all of a sudden got cute, courtesy of pairing up with fancy designers and fancy clothing manufacturers.

People wearing color-block design Teva sandale, in a variety of pastels and bright colors. High fashion? You make the call.
People wearing color-block design Teva sandals, in a variety of pastels and bright colors. High fashion? You make the call.

The article is quick to acknowledge that they know these shoes aren’t cool, but their uncoolness, when worn by cool people, rehabilitates them:

Tevas — often grouped with Birkenstocks, Dansko clogs, Uggs and Crocs as “ugly shoes” — are popular in part because of their outsider status. “There’s something so normal about them that if you’re a fashion person and wear them it’s kind of funny and cool,” said the stylist Kate Young, whose clients include Selena Gomez and Sophie Turner, in an email. But that doesn’t rule out genuine appreciation for their functional design: Ms. Young wears Tevas in the summer while camping and swimming in streams with slippery rocks.

“They were way too crunchy for me when I first saw them. Lately they hold this sort of nostalgic minimal sport appeal for me,” she said.

I’m not sure what “nostalgic minimal sport appeal” means. Let me just say that I don’t need nostalgia for Tevas. I can just look down.

My white Tevas. I have these in brown and black, too. And I have a red fancier pair.
My white Tevas. I have these in brown and black, too. And I have a red fancier pair.

Honestly, I think it’s fun when designers take a humble piece of everyday wear and elevate it or incorporate it into something new and creative. What is less appealing is when wearers of the new-new-fashion item feel the need to distance themselves from those of us who’ve been wearing the aforementioned everyday item, well, everyday, and doing just fine.

Long live bike shorts and Tevas!

Hey readers– what items of clothing do you wear that you noticed have become fashionable, or become un-fashionable? I’d love to hear from you.

3 thoughts on “News flash: fashion discovers that bike shorts are a thing

  1. Hmm – like the idea of bike shorts UNDER a dress/skirt…(I’m not so keen to appear “sausage-like” in public, wearing bike-shorts as bottoms, as a non-cyclist!)

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    1. HI Jean– that’s so funny! You’re probably right; I’ll keep an eye out for skorts on the runway… 🙂

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