The Life CycleDigital Editor
You might be surprised to know that only 2.5 per cent of the public accept innovations upon release. Thus, it’s extremely impressive when a novel product survives in the marketplace and becomes commonplace. However, once an innovation reaches this stage, can it undergo a widespread, newfound popularity without being completely revamped?
As the first bicycle was introduced in 1817, we weren’t present to witness its adoption by the masses, but many of us have noticed the drastic upsurge of its sport – cycling – in recent years. The sport has come a long way since the first Tour de France race in 1903, in which 60 riders rode 2,428 kilometres of flat French landscape for a little over 2 weeks. Last year, the Tour de France celebrated its 101st birthday with 198 riders from 22 teams conquering 3,500-kilometres of multifarious terrain for 23 days.
There are various reasons for cycling’s astonishing lifespan and surprise resurgence, including everything from scandalous athlete-pseudo-celebs to effective ecological benefits and global bike shares. However, the sport’s fervent fan base has undisputedly spearheaded the cycling campaign. To illustrate, over 3.5 billion viewers from 180 countries tuned in to watch the Tour de France 2014 – more than the 2012 Olympic or World Cup Final. Clearly, cycling has taken the world by storm.
The UK retail and property sectors are receptive to the bike’s revival by catering to this expanding, passionate niche market. Cafes tailored to the cycling community are the country’s new necessity with community favourites like Look Mum No Hands! in London that provides patrons loaner locks for their bikes while they enjoy food, cycle-focused film screenings or rider speed dating, Brighton’s Velo Café offers bi-weekly rides, Ronde in Edinburgh doubles as a café and cycling apparel shop, and Your Bike Shed in York promises repairs while you relax and refuel on some of their locally sourced goods.
The retail and property sectors haven’t stopped peddling at cakes and cafes. This year, MIPIM and MAPIC celebrate their 10th anniversary coordinating with the fundraising charity Cycle To… in order to raise money for various charities. In 2014, MIPIM and MAPIC raised over £270,000 for Coram and other charities. Phenomenally, the retail and property sectors have transformed the notoriously solitary sport into a communal culture with convivial spaces and events.
It’s fair to say that cycling enthusiasts are not merely ‘fans’ of a sport, but sponsors for a way of life. As throngs of people embed cycling in their daily routine, retailers’ products are shifting from athletic apparel into fashion and lifestyle goods. A surge of fashion brands are blending modern menswear pieces and cycling gear, like US-based Parker Dusseau and the Incotex x Mr Porter Urban Cycling collection. Both supply oxford and polo shirts, suits, chinos and accessories with innovative fabrics or inlaid reflective-trim to accommodate active lifestyles, while Hackney St. Cloud caters to fashionable female riders. Last July, Trinity Leeds featured a pop-up shop for the Yorkshire’s Grand Départ of the Tour de France. On the day of the event, over 96,000 cycling fans flocked to purchase the shop’s unique fashion offers.
The global cycling frenzy fascinates us because it’s a paradox – while retailers are working to engender experiences into their shops, the experience of riding a bike has, in turn, stimulated existing retailers and provoked the creation of fresh brands. Bikes, once reserved for children, hyper-athletes or hipsters, are the people’s transportation more than ever. Retailers are responding in creative ways and we’re excited to witness future developments.