The most refined designs are less about what is added than about how much has been subtracted. For decades, bold graphics and bright colors defined the image of road cycling, but the new minimalist aesthetic whittles away everything but the essentials of performance and comfort. In the pursuit of design purity, fine knits, muted solids, and subtle touches, such as hidden vents at the collarbones or stylish quilt stitching at the shoulder, speak louder than logos -- and permit a discreet and seamless transition from the road to daily modern living.
Ruled in recent years by the impulse to "pink it and shrink it," women's riding apparel is reclaiming the innovative spirit that fueled a fashion revolution during the first golden age of bicycling more than a century ago. (Women seeking an alternative to skirts drove the popularity of bloomers, as the pants were called.) Young, often-urban entrepreneurs who are largely independent of the mainstream cycling industry are creating stylish and practical solutions to challenges they themselves encounter, from achieving flattering, day-into-night versatility to maintaining safety and visibility in traffic. For many, growing a business also means building a movement to attract more women to cycling's freedom, fitness and fun.
In the world of fashion, sustainability refers to environmentally sound materials and methods of production. In sync with cycling's ever more relevant advantages to the planet, some makers of apparel and accessories craft locally (which, among other benefits, reduces waste through recycling and repurposing), employ processes that are kinder to the environment, and give back by donating a portion of profits to like-minded causes. It's often more painstaking and expensive to make things this way -- but, for some, honoring values is the best value.