Well well well. Yet another ad posted by an online retailer causes a stir amongst feminists and skinny girl haters. This ad went viral at the beginning of the month and elicited a slew of hateful comments.
"Or riding a bike."
"Your art director needs to go back to Cosmo"
“If you WANT a woman with legs like that you must never want to ride bikes with women. Real cyclists have real muscles. Not toy Barbie legs.”
“Cigarettes and cocaine”
Yikes! I hope the model didn't read these comments from these so-called female supporters.
Instead of critiquing the ad and whether or not it was effective, I wanted to take a closer at the bike industry and its fashion, or rather the lack thereof.
Momentum Mag, an independent media company that promotes the road biking culture, released an article encouraging the cycling industry to recognize the needs of female riders including female-centric fashion. According to The American Bicyclist Study: On the Road to 2020, 60% of bicycle owners between 18-27 are women. The key demographic for Cosmo? 18-34. More and more of the cycling population is using their bike as a mode of basic transportation. Not to bomb a sketch trail or race for glory.
Women, and men, are starting to ride bikes just for the heck of it. And forgive the females who may identify with the demonized ad. Instead of bouncing into a bike shop for cute clothes for their new fixie only to be greeted with boxy, totally not flattering, masculine clothing how about we give this newly discovered consumer something that fits her needs. Hoover's reports that half of all clothing retail sales is for women between 18-34. On average, a woman spends $1,069/year on clothing. And yet, bike shops only seem to offer bibs or shorts that go down to the knees with padding that does nothing for the female booty. And forget it if you want anything brightly colored or with polka dots.
Some are going to say, particularly those hard core female cyclists, that the biking industry is not for the fashionista girly girl who wants to look cute. It takes away from the true meaning of cycling and perpetuates the stereotype of the ditzy chick who can't hold her own. However, if you are able to move pass those feelings you'll see a huge void in the market and a new business opportunity on the horizon.
There is at least one company that is moving in on this niche group. Iva Jean is a line of clothing for women who ride bikes. Their line is clean, sophisticated and absolutely perfect for the professional woman who doesn't believe you have to give up fashion for functionality. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2012 for $15,000 and raised $26,500 for their Spring 2013 line. Iva Jean was featured in this month's Marie Claire and continues to grace headlines with their innovative line.
As the market continues to change, be prepared to see the industry respond to the need of fashionista riders. Bike retail locations will include designs and layouts for pencil skirts and flouncy, summer dresses. At least they should, if they wish to stay relevant. Relevant to a woman who uses her bike to go to work, the local market or meet up with girlfriends for a little bubbly. Women who aren't hard core cyclists. Women who--gasp-- read Cosmopolitan.
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