Last month the Fashion & Style section of The New York Times published Riding the It Factor, putting forward the Dutch bicycle as the new fashionable “It object” on the New York streets in these times of “Great Downturn.”
So yes, we think it’s great that they’re encouraging New Yorkers to ride bikes…but the Dutch “It bike” runs between $1000-2000 US. Ouch. Besides the exorbitant price tag, the piece was accompanied by the oh-so-serious Civilized Riding, which virtually parodies itself and Dress Codes: The Dutch Bicycle in which male models pose in Gucci suits next to their bikes.
So, in return, we’ve decided to show the New York Times what true bicycle fashion ought to look like. ChinaTravel.net did their own fashionista photo shoots in the charming backstreets of Shanghai, featuring none other than the wheels of the proletariat: Forevers and Flying Pigeons.
CTn’s Shanghai Style: The Chinese Bicycle vs. NYT’s Dress Codes:The Dutch Bicycle.
As the New York Times noted, “the Great Downturn may have its first real status symbol.” Yes, times are tough, and the Big Apple’s fashionable young men are digging deep into well-tailored pockets and designer man-purses to scrape up the cash needed for a bicycle. But not just any bicycle—certainly not a sweat-inducing road bike or gauche obscenity imported from, say, China. No, we’re talking $1,000-2,000 Dutch bikes here.
What better way to respond to this bit of Big Apple navel-gazing than to turn our eyes away from from New York—the Shanghai of the USA—and toward the real deal? Toward a city where the bicycle has long ruled the streets and where fashion comes in flavors (and at price points) unimagined by those poor Manhattanites struggling through the “Great Downturn” with their spendy Italian threads and overpriced Dutch wheels? A city where brand-name style comes in many forms, most of them fake, and therefore actually affordable to the masses pedaling to work on their cheap and abundant Flying Pigeons and Forevers (around $50 new and as low as $10 for a serviceable used model)?
The Chinese bicycle is increasingly delivering riding pleasure to frolicking economic-refugee expats on the streets of Shanghai. In Shanghai, riding a bicycle to work in a suit and tie is as notable an act as smoking half a pack of high-tar cigarettes while riding a bicycle to the fifth appearance of a top-ten world-famous international DJ at a new Shanghai club in as many days.
(Full disclosure: we got to model in the shoot too).
Photo by Stephan Larose.