Haute wheels: Oliver Spencer bikes up with Brompton
‘I adore the Meccano look of them, which really appeals to the child in me,’ says the London-based menswear designer of Brompton’s fold up city bicycles
Urban cycling makes sense in many ways: a bike is easier and cheaper to park than a car, is often faster (and now arguably safer) than public transport, creates no pollution, reduces your carbon footprint, keeps you fit and gets you to your meetings on time. But power-pedalling your way to a Powerpoint presentation does have its downsides, as anyone who’s sweated their way to an important meeting knows.
For London-based menswear designer Oliver Spencer this presented an obvious gap in the market. Though he’s a keen cyclist, he says: ‘The whole middle-aged man in Lycra look does nothing for me. What I wanted was something in which you could comfortably ride across town, but then feel confident wearing to a serious business meeting.’
Spencer’s solution is a jacket aimed squarely as the kind of man who uses his bike to commute to work and wants something smart enough for the office, but which can also be stuffed in a backpack and emerge unscathed. Made from a water-resistant technical fabric with a seersucker weave, it’s designed, says Spencer, so ‘you can screw it up and throw it in your bag and know that when you pull it out later in the day it will be crease-free and good to go.’
Though it looks like a normal lightweight jacket, it has clever details designed specifically for cycling. Concealed shoulder vents open as you lean forward on your bike so the cloth doesn’t ruck up as a standard jacket would, while light-reflective strips are discreetly hidden under the collar and the cuffs, and the collar itself can be closed for warmth thanks to an extra top button with a reflective loop.
Spencer has named it the Brompton Blazer, in honour of the legendary British folding-bicycle brand. ‘I bought my first Brompton for the convenience of being able to fold it up and carry it,’ he says, ‘but they also ride really well. And I adore the Meccano look of them, which really appeals to the child in me.’
Brompton, meanwhile, has returned the favour by producing a special limited-edition model in a special Oliver Spencer colourway, produced (like all their bikes) in their hangar-like factory in west London. Kenny Kelly, the development designer at Brompton who worked with Spencer on the collaboration, draws parallels between the blazer and the bikes. ‘When you have a Brompton, it goes everywhere with you, from home, to work, to the pub, and this blazer has the same ethos. You can ride anywhere in the city with it, and still look great wherever you are.’ §