Biking gear has gained momentum in it’s popularity with brands such as Rapha and Outlier, but how many biking gear brands can you find that are just as practical as they are unique….. and for women?
I always keep an eye out for radical trends in active wear, but my searches often don’t extend beyond putting LEDs into some sort of sock or t-shirt. What about something affordable and practical that I could wear?
Vespertine, a New York-based brand by Sarah Canner, produces reflective biking wear that is the equivalent of wearable lightning. While Sarah was living in Paris using their bike share system, she noticed that it encouraged a culture for people to get over their fears of biking on the streets. The second level of precaution to consider is safety gear, but Vespertine deviates from the traditional helmet and knuckle gloves that biking is often associated with (and especially among stylish women..).
But why biking gear?
“There was a need for it. I had a friend who was always afraid to bike in the city,” said Sarah. She added how fearful she was and wanted people to see her. One of Sarah’s goals is to get more women to bike in the city. On an international level, Sarah discussed how a city’s bike-ability could be measured by seeing how many women are biking. In cities such as Amsterdam, there are more women biking than men because women tend to be more risk averse.
As for New York, biking in the city is scary and people are often afraid that they’re going to get hit. “Most people don’t really want to get into an accident with anyone and I believe many riders will take extra preventative measures to prevent that,” stated Sarah. “People often enjoy the refreshing idea of biking, but it’s so dangerous in the city.”
Sarah also created Vespertine in New York with her conviction in supporting local commerce. Coming from a different field of painting and sculpture, Sarah found a way to create her vision for her brand with barely any exposure from the fashion industry besides a few classes from FIT. “If I was doing production overseas, I wouldn’t know how it was made. With the garment district at her fingertips, she knows exactly how it’s made and found it enriching to directly work with the people at the factories. She needed to know how she was going to get the colors she needed in natural fabrics.
Believing that biking makes traveling fun and healthier, Sarah also wants to extend her brand into outerwear and accessories. Sarah has a mission with Vespertine to get more women biking while not having the issue of wearing an ugly safety vest. She had worked in a bike shop near the Hudson river before she had started her line and hoped to set an example for other women. She noticed that biking trends tailored more towards men and left a gap for fashionable biking gear for women.
It was the practicality and the exercise of biking and the merge of functionality and aesthetic that built the identity of Vespertine. She has received an award from the ISPO Outdoor retailer tradeshow in Europe and hopes to see more cities around the world become more biker-friendly.
“I see biking as the future, not the past.” –Sarah Canner