Beijing’s Vintage Bike Run: London Tweed With A Chinese Twist

 Fashion Event Shows Bikes More Than Just Transportation For China’s Trendsetters

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Last weekend, fashion-forward Beijing locals and expats turned out for the city’s inaugural Beijing Vintage Ride, an event inspired by the London Tweed Run that was far more about style than sport. The event, which was sponsored in part by notable Chinese fashion websites, had a large turnout of participants eager to be seen in their carefully thought-out ensembles.

Although the London event is all about nostalgia for a bygone era when tweed reigned supreme, the Beijing version took a page from Chinese fashion history. Most of the participants were dressed in Mao tunics called Zhongshan suits, as well as other various vintage garments. Around one-third of the participants bought their Mao suits from sponsoring bike shop Serk.

The vintage ride maintained an air of exclusivity, allowing only 150 registration slots.  After a 10-kilometer trek across the city, the riders gathered at the Beijing Africa Center in Beijing’s art district for a fashion show and voting session for the best look of the day.

London’s Tweed Run, in which people dress up in traditional British cycling attire and ride their classic vintage bicycles across the city, has inspired many global spinoffs. The event has gained popularity over the past five years, inspiring places like New York, Berlin, Russia, and Austria to host their own events.

Among Beijing’s hipper residents, bikes are taking on an increasing role as markers of style and individuality rather than serving as simply a transportation method. The popularity of this event may be related to the recent increasing trend of fixed-gear bikes in Beijing. To some, this may indicate the rise of demand for creative outlets and free expression among China’s hip youth. Mary Bergstorm, author of All Eyes East: Lessons from the Front Lines of Marketing to China’s Youth, recently told Brand Channel that fixed-gear bikes in particular are part of young people’s increasing desire to “be recognized for personal knowledge and style.”

To a few, this ride held significant personal and historical value. According to event organizer Shannon Bufton, one young man from Tianjin had kept his grandfather’s old bike and refused to throw it away, hoping one day he would be able to take it out and use it. Whether it’s a nod to hipsterdom, a creative form of self-expression, or a reflection of the personal desire to connect with history, the Beijing Vintage Ride was certainly an attention-grabbing event.

Check out photos from the event below (all images from Serk):

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