Did you miss the “City Cycle Style” exhibition at the Royal Exchange? If you didn’t make it, you weren’t missing much. This show promised to combine three great things:London’s unique sense of place,London’s unique take on the world of fashion and a love of something almost everyone can do and most people own: cycles.
In my opinion it was a disappointingly narrow representation and a complete missed opportunity. Ten plastic plinths with photos and quotes were supposed to represent the best ofLondon’s stylish cycling What was served up was a selection of fixed gear junkies and Pashley Princesses stating, for the record just how damn cool they are.
Samil in his world champion hoops and riding his 80’s fixed gear sums up the tone “a friend told me a bike is an extension of yourself: I said well then I need to get a very cool bike”. Now, you might think that. Perhaps say it tongue-in-cheek amongst friends. But nobody should commit it to print.
The material felt like a Shoreditch creative agency’s Friday afternoon brainstorm followed by some phone calls to their mates. There were no children, no teenagers, nobody who looked over 60 (except for cycle fiend Sir Paul Smith) no families, nobody on a BMX, a hybrid or a touring bike.
Another entry was from Para “it’s about being individual and not looking like a Tour de France rider or a cycle couriers” – I’m with you on that, but you’re riding a 24k gold plated low pro 1980’s Rossin. Seriously, that’s not just going to get you noticed, that’s going to get you tailed by a couple of wide boys on a moped and kicked off it. It’ll have been melted down and converted into soverign rings quicker than you can say “tea leaf”.
London Mayor, Boris Johnson also featured. He’s a champion of those on two wheels who has cleverly created a legacy with his Boris Bikes. He is many things, but an icon of style he ‘aint. How can someone who looks as if he’s been forced to sleep in his car since he took office make it through the selection criteria?
The other problem I have with this exhibition is that there’s a huge “so what?” factor. Nothing accompanies this exhibition. There no website, no event, no Flickr site to promote your own style – basically no evidence of what the marketing folk label “a call to action”.
There were however two nuggets of hope amongst the self-congratulatory text.
Nick , who works in fashion & advertising (owns a 1950 Freddie Grubb) states “London cycling is very aggressive. My ultimate aim is for cycling style to promote old skool friendliness and sportsmanship among city cyclists”. Yes! How badly is this needed?
Cally, inventor & art director (and owner of some impressive facial hair creations) makes a great statement “cycling’s the only aspect where you get something for nothing, in its truest sense a free for all”
For more photos and a slightly less cynical review see In The Saddle’s blog post