Cycling style is huge. Jennifer Shields, Head of Accessories and Luggage Development at Brompton Bicycles, explains how she’s merging fashion and convenience
Cycling’s image has undergone a transformation over the past few years, there’s no doubt about it. But when we’re designing, our first thought is how the product will work in a city and secondly, is it a delight to use? Style follows these two things – after all, being made for cities is really at the core of Brompton’s brand.
Our bike has to fit in with our customers’ lives completely – the bike can be on the road, under their desk, in a pub, in a taxi, on a train. People don’t want to stress about what to do with their cycling gear after they get from A to B.
In saying that, style is definitely becoming more of a priority for those taking to two wheels to get about, particularly as cycling fashion is identifying less and less purely with the whole MAMIL look (that’s Middle Aged Men In Lycra!)
Functionality is a big deal, but people want to look cool too. It’s fascinating to see the bikes that sell best to each demographic. For example, bikes in Turkish Green are really popular with our younger female customers.
I manage the soft accessories side of the business and our customers are very mixed. People want different things out of luggage but mostly it has to enhance their experience on the bike.
They expect much more of cycling bags now and I have to be able to answer questions like, can it carry a laptop? Does it look good? Does it work on and off the bike? We just completed a new line of bags that will launch next year and they’re much more modern and stylish than anything we’ve ever done before. It’s exciting.
We’re definitely thinking more about integrated tech too and recently did a range of leather wallets with card clash technology which meant your Oyster card didn’t conflict with your cash card. Which brings me back to my first point – designing to make life in a city easier. It will always be my first thought. But do I want to create products that look cool too? Of course I do – with cycling being so much more fashion aware, I’d be a fool not to.
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