The bicycle is my muse. It is the source of creative inspiration behind REID MILLER Apparel. Sure, REID MILLER Apparel is tailored to the needs of the biking woman. But the clothing itself is born out of creative inspiration from the bicycle. I want to write this week and bring you in on the way I think about this special source of creative energy. Here is where the bicycle has inspired my designs for REID MILLER Apparel.
Smart, timeless design, brings forth beauty and utility. Each part of the bicycle brings in beauty in form and function. Every line and curve contributes to the bicycle’s utility to support our form and move it forward, while creating a beautiful silhouette to accompany us through the world. All this and the bike has changed very little since the 1890’s when the modern bicycle was born. This is awe-inspiring in this day and age where over a few short years we went from home phones with real buttons to hand held computers. There is still something out there that serves billions of people that was so beautifully designed 100 and a quarter years ago that we have only slightly altered the basic design!
The Riding Jacket was designed so that the shape emphasizes the beauty and power of the female body, while each line, curve and specially placed feature supports mobility and utility. The material itself, Scottish wool Harris Tweed is classic, around before even the bicycle itself came into existence. This material needs no technological innovations or chemical alteration. It naturally breaths, provides warmth and neutralizes our sweat smell. Carefully honed, human powered knitting techniques, not chemical treatments, keep this fabric looking great for decades.
Green, progressive urbanism. For many of us, the bicycle has become symbolic for progress and momentum towards a greener, more sustainable, community oriented, and physically and psychologically healthy future. The bicycle promotes all of these. This vision for the future is the stage upon which REID MILLER Apparel is built. When I design for the line, I imagine women out in their communities creating to bring this beautiful, green, creative, connected world alive.
The bicycle was (IS?) the feminist chariot.
The bicycle transformed our notions of femininity. Susan B. Anthony famously exclaimed, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world…It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance…the moment she takes her seat, she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood”. Women experienced freedom of movement on the bicycle and it brought forth a deep desire for transformation in the here-to-fore constricted space of a woman’s life. All of these changes were interwoven –freedom of movement, political freedom and requisite changes in attire (for more on the way the bicycle transformed women’s attire see my earlier post on this here). All were called into question by this great innovation. To be feminine was no longer to be constricted in domestic spaces and cumbersome attire. You could be feminine and free. The women’s suffragist, Francis Willard, wrote about the bicycle as a metaphor for women’s mastery over their own lives in the 1895 book, A Wheel Within A Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle.
There are many ways in which the bicycle’s relationship to feminism inspires my work on REID MILLER Apparel. But here I consider transforming contemporary notions of femininity and women “mastering their own lives”. I design clothing that respects the beauty women bring into the world, without constricting our inner beauty. I imagine that women might jump on their bicycle and discover what it means to be a woman in this world, once again transforming our notion of femininity like our early sisters.
I leave you with this quote from Robert Penn in It’s All about the Bike: “The bicycle is one of mankind’s greatest inventions…The cultural status of the bicycle is rising again…There is a whisper that we might today be at the dawn of a new golden age of the bicycle.” What will rise with it?