Bicycle commuter pants designed by women, for women? Yes please. Especially when they are as thoughtfully considered as those from Iladora Apparel.
The new company, based in San Francisco, has introduced a pant for everyday cycling that moves in style from the ride to whatever the day or night brings.
Iladora calls its creation “The Perfect Bike Pant,” and it arrives via a successful crowd-funding campaign last fall. Like many entrepreneurs developing products for the growing numbers of women who use bicycles for daily transportation, co-founders Ilana Siegelman, a clothing designer, and Meghan Murphy, who has a background in marketing, found inspiration in their own needs: They challenged themselves to create a stylish and durable garment suited to busy, active lives.
I recently took the pants for a spin in the New York City bike lanes. I wore them on my usual travels around town, in dry and damp weather, using both my own bicycle, which has drop handlebars, and Citi Bike bike share, with its upright ride. The black pant paired effortlessly with simple wool sweaters, flat leather boots, a black shoulder bag and some jewelry during the day. For dinner with friends at a Downtown Manhattan restaurant, I switched to a dressier top and high-heeled boots.
Subtle Stretch for Pedaling Comfort
So, let’s break down the features and performance. The pants are constructed of textured, abrasion-resistant nylon with 7 percent Spandex. Four-way stretch conforms to the body for comfort and ease of pedaling. The fabric is mid-weight for all-season riding. Conscious of sustainability, Iladora is sourcing eco-friendly, Bluedesign® certified fabrics and is manufacturing the pants locally in San Francisco.
The fabric also repels water. Thus when I rode in a light rain, the droplets beaded up and I simply brushed them off. (In a real downpour, you’ll want to pull on a waterproof pant or cover your knees and lap with a rain cape.)
The fit of a women’s pant is obviously highly individual, influenced as it is by body shape, height and other factors. I found that the curve-flattering cut of the Iladora pant offers latitude. The pant ran true to my typical size, hugging my hips and thighs. The only alteration I would have had to make would have been to shorten the generous length, a good “problem” for tall women like me.
The reason to buy a pant for city cycling is for the specialty features: I appreciate that Iladora packs these into a simple design — devoid of obvious branding or doo-dads — that makes this pant an instant wardrobe staple for on-the-go urbanites.
Inspired by equestrian pants that are designed to avoid chafing in the saddle, the Iladoras feature a comfy seamless inner thigh panel. The outer seams are reinforced for durability.
A contoured, fitted waistband, low-rise in the front and higher at the rear, and an invisible side zipper, lend a smooth, feminine silhouette. The higher rise in the back helps prevent gapping and drafts when worn with a coat in cold weather, and, on warmer days, lends modesty when reaching for drop bars. The interior polyester waistband – green on the grey pant and wine on the black style — lends a luxurious shot of color and also wicks moisture.
I found the straight-leg cut narrow enough to obviate worries about grease marks (on the black style) or getting the fabric caught in my exposed bicycle chain. But I also gave a try to rolling the pant leg on the drive side, using the magnetic tab that’s an exclusive feature. The small magnet proved sufficiently strong to keep the resulting cuff neat and out of the way. (See product photo below.)
Minor quibbles? On the roll-up feature, a tactile cue, like a couple of bar stitches on the side seam, would be useful as a guide to finding the top of the magnetic tab. (Murphy, who has widely solicited feedback from women cyclists, says that this is being addressed in the next version of the pant.) In addition, as a matter of personal preference, I would like to see the stitching of the rear waistband a bit flatter.
After the test rides, I found myself envisioning the pants with a variety of jackets and tops while browsing the racks at Anthropologie, J. Crew and other stores where I shop for everyday clothing – one more measure, perhaps, of stylish, go-everywhere versatility that we can all appreciate in a commuter pant.
Iladora Bike Pant, Folsom Black and Sansome Grey, $135