She loves the city, she loves to bike and she designs clothes. We’ve caught up with Zsófi Geréby, founder of the cycle wear brand Urban Legend to talk about whatreal cycle wear is and how biking has contributed to female liberation. Oh, and about her clothes, that have a story each. Literally.
Why did you decide to design cycle wear?
I’ve been cycling for seven years. I was always frustrated that either I put on something nice that’s too tight or something practical that’s not pretty. So I started to watch people on bikes, observing what they wore, thinking about what made a jacket practical for cycling. All this information just piled up in my head, and when it was time for my degree project at MOME, I chose this as my theme – it makes sense, it’s actually a niche in Hungary. Budapest is a superpower when it comes to cycling accessories (there’s probably no other city with this many biker bag designers per capita) but no one designs proper cycle wear – and by that I mean something that doesn’t only look like it, but actually is cycle wear, with all the necessary technical details.
And why for girls?
Well, that’s kind of a niche within the niche – girls are rarely thought of in the world of sportswear. And there’s another reason: I’ve always found it extremely exciting how cycling has contributed to female liberation! The bicycle was an important tool in the hands of the increasingly self-conscious female society. It’s funny how women riding the bike provoked general indignation. Just imagine a woman going from A to B with something between her legs! Her ankles, maybe even her knees flash out, her hair loosens and her face flushes. Scandalous… And yes, the bike shows the best side of the female figure: your back straightens, you lean forward, show cleavage, you legs are in constant movement and show their full length – I think that’s great and I want to contribute to girls’ looking great on their bikes with my designs. But as I’m getting more and more requests by guys, I had to start do design for them as well.
What makes proper cycle wear?
When you start to design, you first think of the customer – what does the customer do wearing your clothes? First of all, there’s shape. I did a lot of ergonomic sketches, thinking about all the movements one does while sitting on a bike. I figured out how long the back has to be to cover the waist even when you lean forward, how much extra volume you need in the shoulder area to be able to move your arms freely. After determining possible shapes, temperature, weather and lighting conditions have to be taken into account. The clothes have to be windproof, waterproof, breathable and light-reflecting. These are the conditions my clothes have to meet. But these are only the ingredients; how I bake the cake is what matters in the end.
Where do you get the materials that live up to all these expectations?
The right fabrics are very important; I started searching even before I started drawing because I knew the fabric would determine the shapes anyway. I’ve found a great source inSwitzerland, a super innovative firm that provides breathable fabrics with different degrees of water resistance. As well as tweed that is coated with a breathable and waterproof material from the inside!
Dou you design collections, or single pieces along the way?
I respect that the fashion world works in a way that you create at least two collections a year, but more and more I would like to create products – durable and practical pieces that are bought not because they’re in accordance with what the smart people in Paris or Milan have come up with for that season, but because they are quality products that can be used this year, next year, even in five years’ time.
Where did the name Urban Legend come from?
I love this city and I love its stories. I’ve started navigating very well in the city at a small age – I didn’t know the name of the streets, but I remembered all the little stories connected to the different spots along my way. Who used to live here, what happened there, these kind of things made my subjective map ofBudapest. And apart from having my own stories, I met people who knew a lot about the city, its history and urban legends. But the old women in the shops or the homeless have really interesting stories as well! When I worked as a tour guide on bike tours, I saw that these are the stories that really grab people’s attention – they all make it personal, help you to build a relationship with the city. I wanted to plant these stories into the clothes somehow – with every item comes a QR code that tells you a story about a certain spot of the city. I would be really happy if people started to send in their own stories after a while!