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The New Gender Color...

The New Gender Color...

By Katharine Erwin

“That blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it's sort of comical how you think you made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff” is an infamous line from the movie, The Devil Wears Prada. The scene shows a naive and rather arrogant Anne Hathaway getting burned by an even more arrogant but accurate Meryl Streep who is playing a character based off of Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Streep continues to read Hathaway who is clueless about how the fashion industry works. Trickle down effect at its best?

What do movies about Vogue have to do with mountain biking and cycling? A lot.

I used to work “in fashion” as the saying goes. I am not the only “stylist” turned cyclist, I met Anna Maria Wolf (co-founder of PDF) who is a fellow convert and we have subsequently spent hours talking about fashion, style and colors in cycling.

Although Anna, who is would be the city mouse is partial to anything black (she is goth ok), I, the country mouse, prefer colors. Cycling (road biking) is by far the greatest sport to use colors the likes of Mapei and Molteni, but also just the usage of jersey colors. So why can’t we do the same for MTB women's kit besides pinkish colors and tonals?

Molteni_1970.jpg

Well some people are, because women are a growing market.

Gender colors are something that always comes up in sports clothing. It is a great mystery to me at times that so many brands who are still happening do it. We are conditioned since birth when they give you a little pink blanket in your bassinet. You are assigned.

Generations are growing out of the old way, and gender is becoming more fluid. At the same time, women-specific is becoming more than just a gimmick, because women are demanding better products. Brands are aware of the buying power of women and are offering more than just “safe black” and pink. The colorways are expanding.

The truth is, we never stopped liking pink, it is just the way you (the proverbial you aka makers of our gear) had to feed it to us. Hot pink is effing cool. It is also punk rock. Often it is a dog dick pink and it's not cool. It is kinda like - "Here is a pink that isn’t really pink but we want to be down with you ladies, but we still want to control you."

So when did we get burgundy?

It is a funny thing. When you play sports for a team in say, high school, you don’t wear pink if you are on the women’s team. You wear the school colors no matter what they are. Have you ever seen pink as a team color besides “powder-puffs”? No. Have you ever seen pink as a color for a professional sports team besides in cycling? No.

 Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Photo courtesy of Vogue.

The 1940s marked the beginning of women being associated with pink. It just grew from there. Who or why it started is a bit unclear, but the famous Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli made her famous hot pink designs in the late thirties. She made such an impact, it is often referred to as "Schiaparelli pink". She was far from soft and genteel. She hung out with Salvador Dali and to quote Wikipedia “struggle with austerity” (haven’t we all?)

So if pink was righteous once, why did it become the color for the delicate fucking flowers that we women are? Who knows. In the 80s it was a color for everyone. Men, women, and children of all genders. Something happened, and pink was only for women.

Then came the age of purple. Purple, the sporty pink. It was our gift from the powers that be and we can maybe thank Prince for helping with the movement. Purple was a “safer” gender color (I have actually warmed up to more recently.) After purple reign, came turquoise. The color of the sea. A color that can be just as offensive as pink. Then came coral. Together we were all wearing Miami Dolphins uniforms.

 Photo courtesy of Wild Rye Mtn. Apparel

Photo courtesy of Wild Rye Mtn. Apparel

In 2012 Oxblood became the “it” color and saturated the runways. Oxblood is another name for burgundy; you know that color who hugged the 70s and hung around the 90s? Well now it has made its way into mountain biking, and we aren’t mad.  

Design driven brands like  Specialized, Kitsbow and Wild Rye are obvious purveyors of burgundy (mark our words - all of Wild Rye’s excellent colors will surely be appropriate.) But other bigger brands like Pearl Izumi are getting hip and riding the crimson tide. If you check out Pearl Izumi’s clearance items, the colors are in stark contrast to the current selection.

What does this mean for the future?

Who knows. If you are curious about what the next gender color is, you can likely find it on the runways of today and just wait a few years, but it looks like burgundy is here for a little while.

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