I met the awesome Rebecca Minkoff last summer at a women’s reception and ride to welcome New York City’s bike share program. Fashion accessories for bicycling were part of the conversation over coffee and bagels at a downtown Manhattan bike shop that day. Now, the mega-popular designer’s enthusiasm for traveling on two wheels is reflected in the launch of a backpack for bike share fashionistas.
The new bags, sized to fit into the front racks of public bike share bikes, are billed by the company as “the ultimate sidekick for the girl-on-the-go,” ideal for carrying water bottle, laptop, cosmetics and other about-town essentials.
Daily Pedaling Goes Mainstream
I’ve reported recently on a growing array of products designed by entrepreneurs to enhance the bike share riding experience. But Rebecca Minkoff’s entry is particularly significant in presenting bicycling as mainstream — an ordinary part of daily living — rather than a fringe activity. The company markets an extensive line of handbags, apparel, shoes and accessories.
The new backpack is the first cycling-specific accessory to be introduced by a women’s fashion designer since Kate Spade launched a limited-edition line of structured purses to carry on bikes in 2011. Kate Spade collaborated at the time with New York City bike shop Adeline Adeline on a signature grass-green bicycle. (Levi’s, the most mainstream brand to sell apparel specifically for bicycle commuting, does not presently offer products designed for women.)
The world of fashion has been in overdrive in recent years in placing bicycles into a carefree lifestyle context. Bicycles are seen in advertising, editorial and display as symbols of healthy, happy and hip city living, drawing attention to and contributing to normalizing this transportation option. Programs like New York City’s Citi Bike deliver the kind of on-demand convenience and ease that appeal to busy women and hold the potential to encourage more of them to ride. Indeed, studies in several cities, including New York, have shown that women are signing up for bike share at rates that exceed embrace of private bikes.
Proceeds Benefit Safe Streets
Still, a significant barrier to attracting more women to cycling continues to be fear of riding in traffic. In an exclusive partnership with Bloomingdale’s, proceeds from sales of the bike share backpacks will benefit not-for-profit organizations that promote street and bicycling safety in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago and San Francisco, reports WWD.com. In New York, the beneficiary is the Safe Streets Fund, a public-private partnership focused on reducing traffic injuries and fatalities through social marketing and education programs.
On-the-Go in Style
The lightweight, but durable backpacks, constructed of nylon with leather trim and silver hardware, come in black with blue stitching or grey with pink stitching. They feature a drawstring closure covered with a magnetic snap flap.
The bags have adjustable padded straps for shoulder comfort and a carry handle for easy toting. The interior, lined in an exclusive black and white print, contains a zip pocket and multiple slip pockets.
The bags will debut at Bloomingdale’s on June 15, and Ms. Minkoff will make a celebratory in-store appearance at the flagship store on 59th Street in Manhattan on June 19. Also look for the bags in window displays. (The backpacks are up now on the Rebecca Minkoff site in grey and on the Bloomingdale’s site in both colors.)