Fashion is at once the most vacuous and the most vital, ever-changing cultural force. And rather than being all about handbags, high heels, sharp suits and frilly frocks, the amorphous animal that is fashion applies to everything we do.
And that includes driving cars and riding bikes.
The fashion industry itself has continually gotten into bed with the car industry – using the stylish resonance of certain cars and bikes to flog their own idea of style again and again.
No single item of fashion is perhaps as ubiquitous as the black leather jacket: and it has been the bikers of the world who have diffused the greaser aesthetic to the four corners.
The vast majority of owners of black leather biker jackets have never straddled a Bonneville. And of course, non-bikers adopting the look and attitude of Hollywood-imagined motorcycle aesthetic is nothing unique.
The high streets of our cities are full of kids rocking surf t-shirts and shades who have hardly set foot on the sand, let alone ride a barrel. And look at the Pennsylvania steel workers, clad in plaid flannels, selvedge jeans and Redwing Boots that stalk hipster heavy urban environs.
The urge to adopt a certain sartorial style always about messing with the field of time and space – that’s why the postmodern classicist in the Morgan Aero 8 will don a battle-of-Britain era sheepskin bomber on a Surrey blatt – and the road racing wannabe will ape Valentino Rossi’s luminous Roman look on a Sunday morning’ excursion to the Lake District.
It’s tempting to think that those of us more obsessed with transmission ratios, torque figures and pull-away times aren’t in any way slave to the rhythms dreamt up by clothes designers – but it’s easy to spot when someone makes a fatal error.
But style is not of course, just about the way you dress. It’s about the way you hold yourself, and the way that you apply your values to everyday life. If you drive well it helps too, of course. But there have been many great drivers whom you would never hold up as style icons.
When it comes down to it the difference between doing something stylishly and doing something without style is, after all, the difference between doing something well and doing something badly.
Here’s to the ones who have done things well.
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