On Saturday, Portland Fashion Week teamed up with handmade bike builder group Oregon Manifest to show off clothes designed specifically for bike riders.
Before I get to the clothes, there's a couple things I want to talk about. I thought it was ironic to hold the bike fashion show in one of the least bike-accessible places in Portland, Swan Island, but when I got there and scooted my Univega around the car barrier, I was surprised to see hundreds of bikes chained to the fence. Not hot bikes that fashion-forward folks would ride, but big, heavy work bikes with baskets. It turns out that the bikes are for the shipyard workers. Car use is very limited on the busy shipping docks, so most workers ride bikes around. It turns out that one of the seemingly least bike friendly places in town is actually home to hundreds of regular riders including this man, Mike Lane, who disembarked from his American-made Worksman cycle with cigarette in hand:
Secondly, one great thing the bike fashion show organizers did was ask local bike racers Team Beer to do a quickie intro modeling session on the runway. It was great to see regular people looking great in well-made clothes. Here's Team Beer's John Howe modeling a pair of Nau jeans with typical flair.
But probably the best move the organizers made was that the models actually rode bikes (very fancy bikes) down the wooden runway. Rumor has it the models practiced on the bikes for four hours, trying to figure out how to ride straight and slow in designer heels, and many of them were still wobbly. But it was worth it to see how the bike clothes worked on actual bikes and, besides, the bike wobbles cracked up both models and audience a couple times. The bikes made the event more fun and natural.
Whew, okay, so the clothes. Much to their credit, all the clothes seemed really wearable. A couple were knockouts (see: boots with cute side buttons), others were laughable (see: long shirt covered in colorful bikes) and some would work well on their own if not in a runway outfit (see: entire tweed outfit makes you look like you got lost on a fox hunting expedition). Roll through the slideshow below to see them for yourself.
Photos by talented Portland ex-pat Nickey Robo.