“Real” Women and What We Want from Cycling Gear
One of the interesting things that came out of the discussion of women and bike shops from a few weeks back was the apparel and accessory tangent that manifested.
It’s a conversation I’ve had many times before.
We lament the “pinking and shrinking” of everything. We lament the lack of “real” sizes. We hate that women’s specific jerseys are too short in the torso. We hate when the length of the leg on the short is too long, too short, or too anything.
I’ll come out and say it: I hate pastel jerseys. But then, I hate pastel anything. (By the way, Team Estrogen owner Susan O. makes an interesting, business-based case for hearts and butterflies in this blog post. I like a savvy business woman who can back up merchandising practice with cold, hard data. That said, I think that Team E’s search result indicators may have more to say about their specific clientele than women-cyclists in general. It’s hard to say. The important thing about Susan’s post is that it does show some concrete evidence for what women are buying. If things sell, they will get produced again – apparel manufacturers are also business people who know how to tell when/where there is a market and when there’s not.)
Pinking and shrinking is real, and it’s as annoying to me as it is to you, but the extreme variety of comments I’ve heard/read/seen by women about apparel has me wondering what clothing designers are to do.
You like it this way, she likes it that way and – her over there? She wants it another way.
There are a few important points to consider about the way we wear clothes:
- Our bodies vary wildly, even if we’re the same height and weight.
- We expect our clothing to fit well. Close to the body but not too close, long enough but not too long. Think about shopping for denim. We have high expectations, we don’t compromise.
- We are inclined to want our personal style reflected at all times. (Which means, no – I’m never going to wear a pink jersey, even if someone gives it to me for free.) Neither am I going wear a pair of shorts with moons or stars on the leg band.
Are men so different? Do they have lower expectations? Less focus on style? More uniform body shapes? Or is it just that there are so many more options for them out in the world?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I bet you have some ideas to share.
But, back to the original question:
“What is a “real” woman?”
I hate this phrase “real woman”. I understand that people use it to indicate women with curves or women who aren’t a size 2 or whatever. But what does that mean?
I’m about as average as they get. Not skinny, not curvy, not tall, not short. I’m a sorta muscular boy-shaped girl without much of a waist. I’m not petite, I’m not tiny, and I have average length legs.
Am I a fake woman? Is my friend who can’t weigh much over a buck-o-three and is made out of 100% straight lines not a “real” woman?
What Do We Actually Want?
We talk a lot about what’s wrong with women’s apparel in the cycling industry (trust me, I do it to the point of exhaustion) We’ve got a lot of critique.
But I know that if I gave specs and marching orders to a company to build the perfect women’s line, it wouldn’t be the perfect line for many women.
Maybe it comes down to options – and us needing more of them. Maybe it comes down to better communication. I’m not sure.
But I’m asking you. What do you want? What’s your ideal cycling jersey? Helmet? Shorts? Bibs?
Do your best to stay focused on what you want and avoid sliding into a tirade about what’s wrong with what’s out there. Consider this a list to cycling apparel manufacturers.
I’m really curious to see how varied the answers are.