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High-tech cycling clothes eliminate the need for a shower and change of clothes

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June 09, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Levi's new Commuter Series jeans are designed for commuting cyclists,with features such as reflective material and a tab that holds a U-lock
Levi's new Commuter Series jeans are designed for commuting cyclists,with… (Photo courtesy of Levi's )

Cyclists no longer have to arrive at their destination looking like a wet rag and needing a shower. As more people take to commuting and traveling by bike -- for both health and environmental reasons -- some clothing companies are stepping up, offering office-ready clothes that don't have to be wrung out upon arrival.

Thank technology for the ability to create or enhance street wear fabrics that not only stretch, but keep perspiration away from the body, resist water and dirt, and retain heat with little insulation. Companies such as Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company Outlier design stylish menswear perfect for cyclists with features like pants with waistbands that are higher in back (so riders can lean forward without revealing too much) and back pockets that riders don't have to sit on while cycling.

Guess who else is getting in on the action? Levi's. The venerable San Francisco company introduces its Commuter Series: a 511 Skinny Jean (full length and cropped) and Trucker Jacket specially designed for cyclists. Features include a Nanosphere treatment that resists water and dirt, antimicrobial properties and reflective material. A raised back yolk on the pants prevents too much skin from showing, a handy waist tab holds a U-lock, and they're reinforced at the crotch, back pockets and belt loops. The jacket has an iPod pocket in front and a longer tail in back. Retail prices range from $68 to $128, and the clothes will be in Levi's stores in July and at Urban Outfitters stores in August.

"The idea came about pretty organically," said JeWon Yu, the brand's senior designer for men's bottoms. "I think the lifestyle here [San Francsico] lends itself to something like this -- everyone here rides their bike, even people here at the company. And since everyone here is also wearing Levi's, why not try to offer something for the commute?"

Yu added that bike commuters are all over the globe, making this less of a trend and more of a lifestyle: "Some people have to carry a separate pair of pants, which is not really ideal and could even deter you from riding a bike."

More pieces will eventually be added to the line, and she said the company welcomes feedback from consumers.

Textile technology also allows people to avoid harmful UV rays. Clothing lines such as Solumbra and Coolibar offer tops, pants, cover-ups, outerwear hats, bathing suits and scarves that protect against the sun. So now there's no excuse not to go outside and work up a sweat.

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