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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Cycling chic

H&M collaborates with Brick Lane Bikes on clothes that cyclists can wear on or off their bikes
The Straits Times - March 12, 2013
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Cycling chic

Barely two months after it formed a partnership with Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych, H&M has launched a range for another sport: cycling.

The 11-piece collection, pitched at the male urban cyclist, hit its flagship store here in Orchard Building yesterday. This is a one-off tie-up with the British custom bicycle shop, Brick Lane Bikes, which specialises in road and track bikes and is known for its vintage styles.

The collection includes shorts, pants and jackets made of sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and recycled wool, that can double as streetwear. Prices range from $17.90 for a cap to $159 for a jacket.

Designed to combine fashion and function, the clothing features subtle details, such as longer shirts with pleating to allow greater shoulder mobility and jackets with vents that can be worn like backpacks.

Many of the items, which come mainly in shades of blue, brown, orange and grey, also sport reflective strips for safety reasons. The collection would not look out of place on the racks of a regular clothing store if not for the small details.

"We'd noticed how men on their bikes were either wearing performance gear or their normal clothes," Mr Petter Klusell, the H&M menswear designer in charge of the collection, said in an e-mail interview.

"We wanted to make something in between and create clothing that men can wear both on and off their bikes."

Ms Feya Buchwald, founder of the seven-year-old Brick Lane Bikes, said her East London company gave input on fit, comfort and functionality, as well as tested the items. She was approached by H&M in April last year to work on the collaboration.

"When people come and buy bikes from us, they care so much about the colour and style of their bikes," she said of the company's discerning customers. "It makes perfect sense that men will want to have cycling clothes that look just as good."

Mr Klusell added that cycling had gone beyond sports to become a part of urban lifestyle, one of the reasons H&M decided to create a cycling collection.

Singapore cycling enthusiast Kenneth Wee, 42, was excited when Urban invited him to preview the new range last week and offer his input.

The graphic designer set up the Singapore Bike School last January to turn his passion for biking into a bigger part of his life. The school offers lessons in riding, BMX racing, mountain biking and bike maintenance. It has about 240 students of all ages.

The father of two said juggling two jobs meant having to carry up to three sets of clothes - one for a design meeting, one for cycling and one for coaching - if he was out all day. Multi-purpose designs, such as those in the collection, are thus a solution to this logistical challenge.

Dressed in his usual cycling get-up of a black cotton T-shirt and sporty nylon black pants with velcro straps from British brand Endura, Mr Wee pointed to himself and joked: "This is more Sporty Spice."

Then, pointing to the H&M for Brick Lane Bikes collection, he declared: "That is more Victoria", referencing the more fashionable Posh Spice.

Mr Wee currently buys most of his cycling clothes online from overseas bike shops. The pieces cost $80 to $100 each on average but offer little variety in terms of colour, he said.

He also finds the cycling styles available at bike shops here either too sporty or sloppy.

As he tried on several pieces of the H&M collection, he said: "With these designs, I won't look like a PE teacher all the time."

H&M intends to continue its new ventures with sportswear. Its long-term partnership with Berdych will see the world No. 6 player wearing and co-designing a tennis collection, which is being developed.

Mr Andreas Lowenstam, H&M's head of design for menswear, said: "We can see that there is a growing interest in sportswear, and that people want to dress both fashionably as well as functionally."

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