Messenger chic is now a fashion statement

by Allam Hannah

Minneapollis Star Tribune, August 6, 1997

It was only a matter of time before the fashion world got hip to bike-messengerchic, a distinctive style that is equal parts hip-hop, skateboarder andpunk,

Now, messenger wannabes grace the glossy pages of fashion magazines,sporting cycling shorts under meticulously manufactured cutoffs. But perhapsmost commercialized is the bike messenger's trademark - the single-strapmail bag. Now an alternative to briefcases for young professionals anda backpack replacement for college students, everyone has their versionof the tote. Timbuk2, a company founded by a former San Francisco bikemessenger, started making the bags in 1989. Timbuk2's bags have since beenfeatured in GQ and Details magazines. Eastpak, JanSport, Yak Pak and Mossimoeach have turned out messenger-inspired bags. Even the Gap has a spinoff- its courier bag sells for about $45.

Urban Traveler, a travel-gear chain with six stores in the Twin Citiesmetro area, sells several different brands of courier bags priced from$20 to $70. One employee said they're popular - but not necessarily withbike messengers.

"A lot of college students are getting them because they're sickof backpacks," said Pat Flanagan, a supervisor at Urban Traveler'sRoseville store. "Right now, the people who buy these are pretty mainstream."

Bike messengers are generally less than thrilled to find out their styleis "trendy."

"The whole messenger-chic thing doesn't exist to me," saidChris Darsow, a bike messenger. "I wear things that are functional.For example, I wear football cleats because they fit into my pedals."

Whether for fashion or function, messenger styles are turning up everywherefrom urban sidewalks to designer runways. Although just recently gainingmass appeal, messenger chic is hardly new. In 1990, fashion designer NormaKamali's fall show featured courier couture. Her finale ensemble was asweater-knit pullover and matching pants that simply read: Bike Messenger.

"That's cheesy," bike messenger Amber Elandt said of designermessenger clothing. "Our style is very much street fashion. This isjust my job."

For now, maybe. But Elandt said her ultimate dream is to take fashiondesign courses and create - what else - cycling wear.


Wide Eyed

Good-looking goggles do you good

by David Graham

Toronto Star, June 18, 1998

Snowboarders and bike couriers have helped to make protective gogglesa fashion accessory

The renewed popularity of Jackie O-style sunglasses that took off lastyear may have heralded a return to glamour in some fashion circles. ButToronto's late night clubcrawlers and urban hipsters are setting theirsights on goggles - a decidedly high-tech and high-performance twist onthe current trend toward posh, bug-eyed specs.

``Last year, the oversized Jackie O sunglasses were everywhere,'' saysSherry Lay, vice-president of merchandising for Sunglass Hut International,with 2,200 stores worldwide. ``But the street kids and club kids didn'tconnect with the look. So they started wearing the goggles that snowboarders,downhill skiers, arctic explorers, mountaineers and bicycle couriers wear,''she says. According to Lay, these youths put a glamorous spin on the sportssunglasses created by Oakley and Vuarnet. And now, she says, the look isfiltering into the mainstream.

Bike couriers have also influenced the hottest back to school look thisfall with bicycle pants. The long calf length tights are worn by many bybike messengers in colder weather. The couriers push their tights up tothe calf to prevent chain oil and dirt from wrecking the tights. They dothe same with jeans - a look that has spread to the hip hop and alternativecommunities.


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