Friday, April 17, 2009

Struttin your stuff: intellectually and phyiscally.

What follows is a story of bike fashion, wherein our hero, Davey, goes from being a total anti-consumerist prick to being a model, twice. Starting tonight:

So I'm a total hater sometimes.

Much like the bikesnob, I get all pissed off when I see a commercial interest co-opting something that is simple, individualized, and accessable, like biking. As a result I often react like a traumatized victim experiencing a flashback whenever some new product 'drops' that is supposedly designed for bikers.

You can imagine my reaction when Krista approached me about being a model for a 'bike fashion stroll' in May. "Stupid." I thought. I exchanged a lengthy email flurry with Tara,
who is organizing the event, starting with one more or less like this:

Hi Tara,
Very cool you've got this all up and running. I'm really glad this event is happening, and I think it'll do great things for cycling in Salt Lake, but I not yet sure if I'll participate. I don't really see a reflection of my attitudes towards cycling clothes embodied in any of the sponsors. I don't mean to preach anything, but I do ride a lot and thought I'd share my perspective and see how it ties into your perspective and your show.

I appreciate things that are durable, functional, and not tied up with a lot of accessorizing. I think as a general rule people complicate cycling. I'm not going to carry around something to wrap around my leg to keep my pants from getting caught in the chain, I'll roll them up instead. And roll them down when I get off the bike. But things needn't be ugly, either, they just need to work. For ages.

Outlier does a pretty good job, I think, of combining style and cycling-specific functionality:

and maybe with a little bit of Chrome's no-nonsense durability thrown in, though they're a little 'urban ninja.'

At about this point in my windbagging I started actually using my brain and thinking about it. I had decided in my mind that this event wasn't going to promote my values, but there was really no indication that it wouldn't. I had just made it up based on past prejudice. So I changed my tone a bit, and told her about Velo City Bags and mentioned that the only cool sponsor was Saturday Cycles.

Amazingly, Tara not only responded to my rant, but she informed me that she was doing all this work without charging the vendors, simply to promote cycling in Utah and show the different clothing options out there. So if I'm into durable, functional things like waterproof bags and indestructible pants I can show them off, all on Saturday Cycle's bike. I'm in.

So then of course the next day Esther calls me in a panic. "All my guy models bailed!" Apparently she's behind Velo City's appearance at tonight's gallery stroll. So now I'm repping their bags, twice. Money where my mouth is, I guess...

Come out to either of these bourgeois fashion events and tell me how much I've sold out :) You'll enjoy yourself, I promise. Tara's got a website up for the Cycle Style Show, I'll post more about it as it comes up. Tonight the bikers should be on at 7 pm.


Esther said...

Oh Davey, you have no idea how thankful I am that you showed tonight. I hope you really did have fun. You're a very sexy model :) I understand why someone as practical and industrial as yourself would support sturdy and well... practical, clothing. However, I'm a little perplexed at your slight animosity for fashion.

Granted it does have shady aspects: Animal abuse, outsourcing, child labor... but in a local sense, I think it falls into art. Clothing designers are artists.

So what's the difference between a local painter and a local clothing designer? I love love love looking at paintings and drawings and sculptures, just as much as I like seeing what designs artists come up with for t-shirts and dresses and such.

I'm not really interested in the practicality of a painting, I'm just happy to be looking at it and the same goes for fashion, whether I'm appreciating it, or trying to mimic or create my own. Art is expression, and clothes are just another medium.

I was very interested in supporting Velo City Bags and Amicus Clothing, as well as the entire fashion stroll not just because it's a form of art I love, but because it's local. After that article you posted about Dubai, I've been trying to support local even more. I think at one point tonight you asked me why people sell things that don't do anything. (I might be misquoting you there). Well, why do people sell their paintings? I think most artists want to be able to survive on their work and as an art appreciator, I want to support them in that.

I look forward to seeing you in the bike fashion stroll and I hope you start seeing fashion a little more positively 'cause you're a pretty good model :)

Elaine said...

haha you crack my shit up, little brother. enjoy being a (very practical) model for the biking world.

Davey D said...

You're right on a ton of this stuff Esther, visual expression can't be pinned down with notions of practicality. Because like you say, it's art, it doesn't have to be useful.

My beef with fashion is that it has the potential to be useful, to be well crafted and fashionable. I'd love it if I only had to buy one pair of shoes every two years, and if 4 different pants would last me five. I want things to be well crafted and thoughtful, instead of just 'new.' Because an obsession with newness just leads to meaningless consumption. Being on top of the fashion scene means adopting the newest stuff, which seems elitist and unnecessary a lot of the time.

And I don't see art as immune to that, either. A lot of conceptual art in the 70's was about exactly that, rebelling against the idea that being creative meant you added a bunch of meaningless objects to a sea of already existing meaningless objects. That's pretty extreme, and I don't support that point of view by any means, but I think it's interesting. As if to say 'the world's full! why fill it up more?' I like film, in that way, because it's a found-object medium, composed of re-imagining the already existing world.

None of this is hard-and-fast in my mind, just ways to look at things. For example, if someone made their own stuff that was extremely self-expressive and they did something new for them every week I wouldn't think them excessive, they'd probably be my new favorite person.

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