How shorts for cycling went from Mr Motivator into the fashion hit of the summer

woman in white shirt and black shorts sitting on black metal bar

Bicycle shorts are making a surprising comeback in this sports-centric season, from Kim Kardashian to the catwalk. The summer’s style muse is Mr Motivator. First came the bumbags. Next came the dad workout trainers. Baseball caps followed by the shorts for cycling. These 90s fashion items, once banished to the attic with Baby-Gs and LA Gears, are back. They are now a true trend.

You might be asking why? Paris Hilton said that items with irony are the most popular in the fashion world right now. (Balenciaga’s PS1,600 version of a 40p Ikea bag). Fashion week is a great time to generate hype about an item that gets Jane and John Doe asking “Are they kidding?” while also generating excitement for the rest of the fashion industry.

As with many trends, it is easy to calculate the genesis. Kim recently wore the Yeezy cycling shorts by Kanye West everywhere, from shopping to Cannes film festival. Last week, the most-popular item on Amazon Prime Day was a pair of nearly identical Futuro Fashion shorts that retail for around PS3. They have also been worn by her half-sisters Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner.

woman in white shirt and black shorts sitting on black metal bar

It all started last September, when the Off-White spring/summer 2018 Off White show was held. The show was dedicated to a 90s fashion icon. This time it was Princess Diana, not Mr Motivator. Inspired by a paparazzi photo that Naomi Campbell took while going to the gym, her final look included a white pair of pants, a tailored jacket and blazer.

It’s not just irony that they resonated during one the most exciting sports-centric summers ever. These are also some of the biggest trends this season. Waistcoats saw a surprising rise thanks to Gareth Southgate’s World Cup win. The LWD (little white gown) also enjoyed a revival riffing on Wimbledon. Cycling shorts paid homage to the Tour de France. La Grande Boucle is turning out to be a profitable event. In fact, cycling sunglasses (the polarized ones that wrap around your head) have achieved cult status.

H&M currently has pairs starting at PS4. Topshop offers eight styles, priced between PS12 and PS30. BooHoo offers more than 100 styles priced between PS2 and PS22. Their revenues grew 97% last year so they clearly know how to back the right horse. Fashion insiders are still discussing how to make shorts from leggings.

This trend, as bizarre as it may look when paired with a crop top (a la Kardashian), British Vogue believes that cycling shorts can be the perfect addition to your summer wardrobe. They are great for doing quick lunges in the gym-to-brunch era, as Mr Motivator knows, many years ago.

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