Recently, we caught up with a very cool retail shop in Denver – The Bespoke Pedaler. They specialize in offering very distinctive urban cycling apparel, footwear and gear. And a quick tour of their beautifully designed shop on Platte Street will convince you that what they offer is indeed very unique to the area.
I sat down with owners Emily Hogle and Rick Evans to learn more about the shop.
[Ryan] So, the two of you have non-retail backgrounds. Can you tell us a bit about how you two made the leap to opening a retail shop?
[Emily] Right, Rick is an architect by trade and I am an interior designer. We’ve both spent the better part of our careers specializing in resort and hotel design so it may seem like a leap. However a number of experiences between us led to and inspired the concept of The Bespoke Pedaler. Namely, we both have a vibrant history with bikes and share a love for bicycling and all the social and technical qualities that surround it.
Secondarily came the unshakeable desire to experience humanity and the power of connecting with people in a very direct way every day. The bicycling culture has this quality – it is a very social and human activity. Bikes are human powered of course.
Finally and more practically we realized that bike shops focus on the bike more than the rider. Apparel, footwear, and other accessories for the bicyclist are secondary and often tertiary to bike sales and service. People love to create their own expression of themselves through fashion. People love to feel safe and protected with their gear. Particularly in Colorado – we love our performance wear. So we endeavored to curate a collection of technically refined lifestyle wear that seamlessly transitions to all activities in life. Whether that is biking, walking, hiking, traveling, dining, working, presenting, wandering…
Are there a lot of people cycling to the office these days? Any notion of what the average commuting distance is?
There are many more people cycling now than ever before, however, it is still a small percentage relative to the number of people who commute in cars. According to a 2013 report from Bicycle Colorado, there are approx. 11% fewer cars on the road annually across the state and the number of everyday bicycle commuters are up 57%. That’s pretty significant and is worthy of trendsetter status among other states. Denver is 6th among US Cities for bike commuting according to the US Census.
There has also been a lot of recent discussion about younger generations and the “future workforce” being far less inclined to own a vehicle than previous generations. The average bike commute according to the Downtown Denver Partnership Commuter Study in 2012 was 4 miles. That is likely still the same or similar.
Any tips for guys that would like to cycle to work, but think that they will be stuck wearing clothes that clearly aren’t ‘business casual?’
The notion of high-style, high-performance lifestyle wear is still relatively new both for the consumer and the fashion industry so it’s easy to think that this type of apparel is really just another version of Patagonia or that it has a more urban edge like Chrome. However, there are a few particular brands that are focused on truly supporting the business casual commuter and we offer those brands, among others. Blazers, trousers, dress shirts and dress shoes are all available in our shop. One might also include fabrics in the wardrobe that are naturally breathable, temperature regulating, fast drying and/or anti-bacterial such as merino wool, tencel and bamboo. These natural materials are prevalent in technically refined lifestyle wear for their beautiful look and feel and they provide properties that outerwear companies have been trying to replicate synthetically for years.
What challenges have you encountered in opening a retail store and what have you done to overcome them?
In opening a retail store, we have been challenged with realizing that the vision of the bike apparel industry or even our own vision for our shop is not necessarily perfectly synced with the collective attitude of the city of Denver just yet. As such, we were immediately tasked with listening, observing, and dynamically evolving to resonate as clearly as possible with the people of Denver.
The concept of bicycling as a lifestyle is huge in Europe and very new in the US, although much bigger in coastal cities. Ultimately for us, this is about the people. So our number one job is to listen to what they want and marry that with the products available in the market and our hope to contribute to a more bike-able world. And when we don’t see what people want out there, we want to push for it.
Let’s say I have a 9 mile commute to the office on my bike – how can I stay dry during the ride and not walk into the office looking like I just finished a workout?
Staying dry is a balance between the right equipment, the right pace and the right apparel. It’s hard to tell the agro commuter that he will stay dry on his 9 mile ride when he likes to push 15-20 miles an hour and make it a workout. But for the daily commuter, a bike that supports commuting (not racing) is ideal because it will most likely have a slightly more upright positioning which keeps the body more comfortable.
A few dry runs on the weekend might be helpful because you can select a pace, time it, and gauge the “sweat factor”. It’s important to remember that bike commuting is not necessarily about saving time (although a majority of the time it is faster than driving). It is about a human powered existence. Movement = breath = energy = health.
Finally, the right apparel – it does take some dialing in because we are all different, but the goal is breathability, wicking/fast drying and temperature regulation. In general, merino wool is the most superior fabric for these criteria. It can be expensive, but it has been used for nearly a century as cycling performance material and it is rarely rivaled, which is why many brands are placing a lot of effort on developing merino collections. Merino regulates body temperature by keeping you cool or warm depending on your needs. It is naturally anti-bacterial. It is fast drying and wicking so it pulls the sweat away from your skin and allows it to evaporate quickly. You can also select products that might support your specific “Sweat needs”. For example if you tend to sweat a lot under your arms, then a jacket with pit vents would be a good choice.
What’s the coolest product in your store this fall? Does it look like typical cycling attire?
For men the coolest product we have right now is the Down Shirt by Nau. This is a sustainably designed and constructed water resistant snap front shirt jacket with 800 fill goose down insulation. This very fine quality insulation is incredibly lightweight, breathable and of course insular. The lack of bulk makes this piece an amazing layer for under a shell in wet weather or over a sweater or button down in the office. The discreet and fitted profile appeals to the tailored refinement of a professional and the construction of the jacket is high performing for the Colorado outdoor lover.
From those of us at BE, keep up the great work Emily and Rick!
Also, we have been collaborating with The Bespoke Pedaler on a BE custom shirt – designed with the urban cyclist in mind – stay tuned…
The Bespoke Pedaler is located in Denver.
Visit them at 1550 Platte Street Unit A.