Learning From Words & Fashion

Screenshot from Versace's new collection for H & M (keep reading it'll make sense!)

Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending the last day of the California Bike Summit. Hosted by the California Bicycle Coalition and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition the conference brought California bicycle advocacy leaders from around the state to learn from some of the best of the best, including Randy Neufeld. Neufeld, who opened yesterday with two items that really resonated for me - let's collaborate and not compete as bike advocates, on the local, state and national level, and let's watch our language moving forward - most people do not like to be considered "cyclists," they don't even consider themselves "bicyclists" but are happy to be known as "people who ride their bikes."

The language issue is something that came up when Georgia Case and I created the pre-survey for the upcoming multi-media "Share Our Streets" (click here for an early sample piece on "Walk Your Bike) road safety information campaign for Bike Long Beach. What we found is exactly in line with what Randy recommends - most of us don't like to be labeled so strictly (and apparently many of us don't like lycra much except for our swimsuits), we just like to ride our bikes.

For me personally bicycling is mostly about freedom and joy and enjoying the view as I get to where I want to be going. The more I speak to the women that I meet on the street riding their bikes the more I feel this is key to our messaging. I will be devling into this more in the future and doing my best to capture the spark and fire in the eyes of those I encouter in the words, pictures and video our creative team puts together.

Frank Peters, Andrew Casteel, and Diana Rohini LaVigna (Diana and I share a bit of a fashion background, but more on that after she and I pow wow soon) gave a great presentation on Media & Communications for the summit yesterday. I look forward to when the CBC makes the video of this available. Each gave very sound, cost effective and crucial "how to" advice on successfully using social media (Casteel), podcasting (Peters) and understanding Public Relations game (LaVigne) to leap your advocacy outreach and messaging forward. This type of focused communications and media strategy appears to be new to many in bike advocacy, but it's critical if we want to make the differences we seek to make.

And now I realize of course we HAVE to have our own WoBSoCal podcast. Of course! How lucky I feel that Frank has now lined it all out for me. His shows sound fantastic both in quality and caliber AND he's speaking to the movers and shakers in the bike advocacy world. Tune in.

First Diana, and then Jim Brown (Communications Director for the California Bicycle Coalition) had our own Media Relations love fests in the hallway. Oh the ideas! It's so exciting. New York is blazing a fantastic trail and California we need to catch up. My solution? Look to the discipline and the creativity of the fashion industry. Yes, I know New York is our fashion capitol in the U.S., but California, especially Southern California, is our active living fashion capitol. See the correlation? Biking + the active living? Are you with me?

Along those lines, one of the things WoBSoCal has in the works for next September is an Urban Chic "Dress for the Destination" bike fashion show for the end of the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference her in the LBC. I have been inspired in this by our own Andrea White-Kjoss who is a "Dress for the Destination" goddesss and who arranged for two urban bike fashion shows to happen in the past as a part of our Bikefest festivities during May's bike month.

On the fashion inpsiration trail I bought two magazines yesterday in Union Station on my way to the train (I felt very cosmopolitan I must say) this week's Newsweek and November's Fast Company with Steve Jobs on the cover. I hear you, neither is a fashion magazine per se, but Newsweek had a profile on Donatella Versace who is enjoying quite a renaissance right now, and well, Steve Jobs was the man for beautiful design for urban living tools. Think about it. Did you know he wanted to call his first computer "bicycle?"

This is the first Newsweek I've bought in awhile and frankly I was a bit dismayed by the look of the print magazine now (I must prefer the online look as it's hosted by The Daily Beast), but I did really enjoy the mix and caliber of the stories and the writing.

Versace is doing quite nicely after a very tough time. Unlike many top designers Donna decided the current economic downturn was not a time to be conservative, that her market wanted her to be bold in honor of her brilliant brother's legacy, to stand out. Her gamble seems to have played well. But showing she is aware of the state of most of our pocket books she is also now launching a new super reasonable price point line for H & M (sample shown above). I must say that her magazine ads (which I could not find online) are some of my favorites. I like the clean architectural boldness that reminds me of much of what was great in '80's fashion, and I love her choice of model for the women's ads.

Bringing out a beautifully crafted successful fashion line is a work of art, organization and timing. But those of us on the outside often forget about the labor of creating this art and the supreme effort it takes to bring forward, to show it off well. When the fashion house Missoni announced they would launch a home line with Target - including a comfort bike - they announced it six months in advance. When the line officially launched beautiful images of the bike in any resolution you needed were made available on line in advance. Wan to know what Donna's going to be bringing out at your local H & M for the holiday season? No problem - just click here for her look book. Imagine if we brought some of this discipline and organization to beautifully presenting our ideas, winnings strategies and the look and feel of what a successful bike culture can mean? Why yes, that is exactly the kind of role WoBSoCal would like to play!