Nona Varnado, one of my favorite designers, makes beautiful women’s clothes that just happen to be ideal for city cycling. Her collection is made in New York, NY, which supports the local business community. She is also the lead editor for thebirdwheel.com, a collaborative women’s bicycling site. I recently had the opportunity to pick her brain and learn more about her views on urban cycling.
What emerging trends do you see in women who cycle right now?
Diversity and personalization. Women approach cycling differently: from a more “lifestyle” perspective, rather than from the perspective of bike racers or recreationists.
There are women, like my sister, who are learning about the differences between folding bikes and upright commuter bikes while at the same time matching jackets to bags and attending community board meetings to make cycling safer! That kind of quiet revolution is the most exciting and important. In terms of racing, it’s about supporting women’s cyclocross and pitching the idea of adding a women’s race to the established larger events. In fashion, it’s blending beautiful everyday apparel and technical details from Philip Lim’s Fall 2011 collection to small designers, such as me, who are totally dedicated to making gorgeous, practical things that make cycling easier and more glamorous.
What three things do you never leave the house without when heading off on your bike?
I tend to over-pack, like I’m going to be on a seven-year journey even for small neighborhood trips. So I’ve learned to overcompensate by only carrying a small, super functional accessory bag, like my Bike Klutch. I have just the urban necessities: keys, cards, cell, Burt’s Bees colored lip balm and business cards. That’s as minimal as I get – otherwise, I’m a total bag lady! I’m the one person you can always borrow a pen from, and I usually have an extra pair of socks or a little travel makeup kit, in case I need to be presentable.
What’s the coolest new piece of clothing, accessory or gear that you’ve seen on the urban cycling scene this year? (Feel free to include one of your items of course!)
- Bags: I love the waxed canvas bags and accessories that local crafts people, such as d’emploi in Brooklyn or R.E.LOAD Bags in Philly, are putting out right now in these lovely grays, browns or classic hues. They’re smaller bags that don’t scream “bike.” I’m also loving that panniers have become popular and cute. I’m a little biased, as the owners of BASIL bags in the Netherlands are friends of mine, and their bags are awesome. I also make a small Bike Klutch bag that’s super pretty and minimal for keeping it light.
- Pants: Men really got lucky this year with Levi’s releasing bike-specific jeans, but they left out the ladies! There are a bunch of cool indie companies that make great men’s pants, but I see a lot of women re-appropriating older fashion pants that have a sort of equestrian or cargo style for riding a bike. I blended a lot of the things I love about the men’s designs – technical fabric, details – with a flattering feminine fit for the design of my NV Riding Pant. It has an equestrian style to it, but it’s really subtle and I love it when people freak out over how cute the ankle buttons are to secure the pant cuff!
- All things Reflective: Reflective details are everywhere, but some designers are making it less of a Hazmat-like safety requirement and more of an aesthetically pleasing detail. Dargelos (Brooklyn) makes a cool reflective netting vest and Wovenspoke (Australia) makes these gorgeous reflective scarves. I have reflective piping in all my jackets. But the waterproof and tweed jackets have reflective piping in their seams that looks like a traditional trench pattern, and it’s pretty awesome when you see the light hitting them.
Enter Momentum Mag's Spring 2012 Style Contest: Click here to enter to win a Nona Varnado Classic Nautical Hipster.