As in Paris, as in New York, the cult of biking has taken London. It's probably not a coincidence that those are centers of fashion, too, or that the runway—at least the runway James Long showed on in London—is just another track. There's an odd affinity between bikers and fashion guys, though cycling gear isn't usually thought of as fashion per se. But it affords guys a license that traditional clothing often doesn't: to display the body, to wear color more daringly. Long played up both elements in his new collection, which he called Beyond the Velodrome—that is to say, off the track. "I'm designing fashion, not sportswear," he said after the show. "I want to make that clear."
Well, sure. It's the brave soul who bikes in a hand-knit. But the inspiration launched Long into one of his strongest collections to date, and a standout at the London men's week. The rubberized, baggy Bermudas he showed are variations on his old favorite summer themes, but the fitted, printed tops—splices of aggressive handwritten messages to psych up cyclists—had the stripy geometry of earlier designs, with a bright new florid energy. The leather jackets that always figure into the collection came aerodynamically unlined, with just a thin layer of satin bonded inside. But the real revelation was the mesh bombers and sweatshirts, some shown in their unalloyed form and some used as the lattice for a new kind of knit, with ribbon woven through. And summer-appropriately, they were featherlight. "I wanted everything to be really international, and really lightweight," Long confirmed. "For just zipping around."
He paused for a second, and then added, "Everyone just zips around now." And since the whole world lies beyond the velodrome, why shouldn't every man be his own biker?