Although I am always happy to talk about reflective bike fashion, a few things converged recently to prompt a post about reflective-ness. A New York Times article, new reflective clips from Bookman, and the Fall time change all mean more ways and reasons to be reflective!
The recent New York Times article, “Go Glam into the Night: For the Bike-to-Work Generation, a Move to Fashionable High Tech Clothing,” explored how bike clothing “grew up” and became “fashionable” by making office-friendly clothing reflective. The article called out a few companies I already adore, like Vespertine NYC and LFlect, others I am familiar with, including Fik:Reflectives and Betabrand, and introduced me to a fun new one, Henrichs (these capes are so adorable! And limited edition pink and glitter reflective ones? Where is my credit card?!).
Women’s fashion sports clothing companies such as Athleta and Lululemon are also adding reflective clothing to their lines. These pieces are made for runners, not cyclists, but there are obvious ways these can crossover. Look at how cool the “Light It Up” reflective skirt from Lululemon is, and the “Scuba Hoodie,” with it’s reflective hood! I love the idea of pulling this skirt over pants or leggings or jeans – not entirely work appropriate, but definitely for biking home from the gym, or a casual evening out. The “In a Flash” sweatshirt I can see wearing to work. Athleta offers a few pairs of running leggings with respectable amounts of reflective trim down the leg, and I can see pulling these on under skirts or dresses to bike home after dark. When we turn our clocks back this weekend, it will be darker earlier, but still not too cold to rule out the skirts, and then these would be perfect.
What I like about these garments is that these designers are finally realizing that gear worn outside, especially in the darker hours, should have a bit more reflectivity than just the token logo on a corner, or on the ankle. Here is an example of what I consider bad reflective trim – this adorable “Cyclocape” from Terry Bicycles has a single line of reflective trim down the center of the back. Although the unbroken line isn’t a bad idea, it doesn’t give any sense of how wide the wearer is, so how much room to give the cyclist, and what if if was covered by a backpack or bag strap? (Don’t get me wrong, if someone wants to gift this to me, I’d happily test it out!) These black Terry “Metro Crop” pants have reflective trim inside the side slits, so they don’t offer much reflective-ness at all.
Title Nine has a decent collect of clothes with reflective trim, and although this “Slip’n Ride” commuter skirt is another example of questionable print choices, I like that the reflective trim is on the outside hem, right where you want to be visible to a vehicle. REI’s Novara winter cycling pants have reflective stripes down the entire leg as well – just like my reflective pants!
I also point all of this out because Time is “falling back” this weekend, and it will be darker longer. Although I don’t believe that us wearing reflective clothing gives drivers license to NOT pay attention to cyclists (and pedestrians) on the road, I don’t think it hurts to be defensive about what we wear either. I wear a bright red coat partially because it shows up better in headlights than a solid black jacket would – the reflective Vespertine belt I wear with it simply helps.
It is easy to add reflective accessories, less expensive, and perhaps a bit more versatile to have something that can be moved from jacket to shirt to skirt, like the Bookman clips or the options from REI. Or there is always another route – Glimling is a Swedish-American company selling Scandinavian style reflectors that can be attached to purses, backpacks, coat zippers, or panniers. I have several and love them. They are so cute on my purses! Elisabeth, the owner, totally gets the importance of reflective-ness, and loves to share this somewhat staggering statistic – 70% of American pedestrian accidents happen after dark, while in Sweden, the number is much lower, 40%. Adults and children alike in that country wear reflectors – we saw them for sale in bookstores and dollar stores and in the airport when The Mechanic and I were in Denmark and Sweden, too. Check out her blog post with visibility tests.
So what am I saying here? Reflective clothing is going fashionable and mainstream for biking and running, yay! Designers are beginning to figure it out, and maybe by next winter, we’ll see even more. If buying reflective blazers and dresses is not your thing, or you can’t afford to (I know, the cool stuff is always so expensive!), consider accessories with a good amount of reflective coverage, and attach reflectors on strategic points. The least it can do is make you a bit more visible!