There's a new bespoke, and it involves bicycles. No, not just bike messengers and hipsters on fixed-gear bicycles--Tokyo has more than its share of those--but especially outfitted businessmen on special business bikes.
First the bike: The Gentle Gear was developed by People Co., an affiliate of toymaker giant Bandai Namco group, and was released in October. People is known for its preschool goods, so a sturdy businessman's bicycle might seem out of its league.
One look at the Gentle Gear is enough to see that it's not: Resembling an over-engineered delivery machine from the 1950s--call it classic--it boasts some useful features not found on many of its contemporaries.
Most notable is its length. At 1,890 millimeters (6.2 feet), it's long enough to allow the rider to relax and "pedal ahead," since the bottom bracket and crank are ahead of the rider's center of gravity. Less obvious is a rear light equipped with turn indicators, which comes just in time as the Tokyo Metropolitan Police crack down on sidewalk riders.
Officially, only children under 13 and seniors are allowed on pedestrian thoroughfares, unless otherwise indicated. A real gentleman, the bike says, "minds his manners and rides on the road." The Gentle Gear also comes with a rear fender rack that incorporates a metal pannier.
The sudden surge in bicycle-commuting businessmen after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake has not gone unnoticed by clothing firms either. Among autumn offerings from major brands such as Aoyama Trading and The Suit Company, come business suits specifically tailored for bicycle riding.
The Suit Company's "N.G.A.C. Athletic Suit" (from 17,640 yen for a jacket, from 8,232 yen for pants) made of the same material as polyester cycling jerseys and backed by mesh, markets its stretchability and cyclist-friendly cut. The jacket comes with several discreet pockets (one of them on the sleeve) that ensures that essentials--cellphone, music player and charge card to use at the convenience store--are within easy reach from the handlebars.
The pants fit high at the back and are backed with rubber so they don't slide down.
Aoyama Trading's "Active Model" business wear (from 49,800 yen), meanwhile, offers more targeted stretch. Specifically the upper arms and spine of the jacket come in stretch material, as well as the knees of the pants, which are backed by mesh.
At the upper end of the spectrum are made-to-order suits by Mitsukoshi Isetan Holdings recently offered at the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district. Made from your choice of Kurashiki denim from Okayama Prefecture, or even fleece, the jacket (from 52,500 yen) comes with snaps on various parts to prevent flapping as well as a bright idea: reflective material under the collar. Make sure to flip it back down when you reach the office. The pants (from 36,750 yen) will make any white-collar warrior feel more in the saddle: Constructed from six pieces, they draw their inspiration from equestrian wear.
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