I interviewed Tim Buckle, a retired Team GB cyclist and junior coach who told me about the world of elite cycling and what inspired him to take up the sport. He described watching Stephen Roche in the 1987 Tour De France dramatic finish as he reached La Plagne: “I flicked channel 4 on and it happened to be this epic stage race, Stephen Roche flaked out and needed oxygen. The drama of it, how cool this guy looked, the colour, everything about it was fantastic. That’s what I wanted to do for a living.” The nostalgia and excitement of the competitive cycling world was another big inspiration to me as the project developed. I used graphic imagery and lettering to retain this sense of spectacle, adventure and excitement.
For me, it was imperative to create functional products with a high level of performance alongside the design and concept. I drew upon my research into cycle wear brands, using stretch fabrics for ease of movement, reflective elements for safety on the road and mesh panelling for breathability. Paralleling textures, shape and patterns from initial drawings of bike parts and mechanics, I used techniques such as layering and bonding. I combined sport fabrics with reflective vinyl, printed scuba fabric and lycra. By exploring the use of zips and fastenings and joining fabrics with different properties, I could produce a seamless construction. These modern material choices are combined with an illustrative style of print, textures and details in order to produce a “feminine” aesthetic. I was also inspired by The Red Hook Criterium Series by Specialised – a custom-printed collection for an elite cycling team. The collective look includes a coordinated bike, helmet, skin suit and accessories. Intrigued by their bold colourful collection, I completed my final collection with a matching screen-printed leather bike set.
Cycling and other physical outdoor activities can foster huge benefits for our physical and mental health. Cycling also encourages a sense of adventure and exploration of space – it is a great tool for well-being. Lack of confidence and fear can hinder this. I asked female cyclists the question: “How does cycling make you feel?” The resulting answers included keywords such as: strong, liberated and in control. I included the phrase “I feel a million dollars” in this textile sample in order to remind women why they cycle and how it can make them feel, eradicating fear and feelings of intimidation. The incorporation of these quotes from female cyclists is an attempt to increase confidence and provide inspiration before a ride.