For months, we've seen pictures of Kim Kardashian West in bike shorts. Bike shorts with corsets, bike shorts with a hoodie and leather trench, bike shorts with denim jackets, bike shorts with matching athletic tops. She was not biking while wearing them. It sparked a trend! And, if the spring 2019 runways are any indication, we're going to be seeing them around for at least another season.
They're tight! They're comfortable! They're shockingly kind of flattering? As athleisure that doubles as both performance gear and something suggestive (a February New York Review of Books piece quoted Trump's former golf caddy as saying that "Golf is a lot like cycling shorts. It can reveal a lot about a guy"), bike shorts check all the influencer boxes. They even keep your thighs from connecting in uncomfortable ways. Can we wear Spanx on their own yet?
Cycling shorts have been prevalent in Kim's husband Kanye West's Yeezy collections since the label's inception. In the June Yeezy campaign, "Supermoon," shot by frequent Kanye kollaborator Eli Russell Linnetz, bike shorts were shown on influencers (and former Bad Girls Club stars) the Clermont Twins, worn sans tops. Yeezy made variations of the shorts in soothing desert tones — light sand, rich fawn.
At the spring 2018 Off-White show, designer Virgil Abloh showed his final look on Naomi Campbell, white bike shorts with a matching tailored blazer. The collection was directly inspired by Princess Diana — Campbell's outfit referenced images of the late Princess of Wales leaving the gym. The same pictures have since become a touchstone for street style enthusiasts and hypebeasts alike. "[Diana] was a strong individual that despite her position had her own personal taste and it came out through the clothes," Abloh told Vogue. "There is no stylist at play here."
Off-White spring 2018
Though bike shorts have been a highly visible trend for some time now, for spring 2019 designers dug in. They were everywhere. Certain brands align with the overall bike short aesthetic ('90s nostalgia mixed with gleaming futurism, á la The Matrix, an overused reference that will haunt us until the end of time). It wasn't a surprise to see them pop up again at Off-White. Marine Serre, who describes her (gorgeous) work as "futurewear," showed a white pair with a green swirl, matching a top with her signature half-moon logo. Prada, which mixed a 1960s-style femininity with athletic references, showed silk bermuda shorts that were cut so close to the body that they echoed cycling styles.
But bike shorts also popped up in collections that made few allowances for athleisure. At Maryam Nassir Zadeh, brilliant stylist Haley Wollens paired mint cycling shorts with a lace-trimmed blazer. Blumarine, normally aggressively feminine, showed a number of bike short variations: slime green, lilac lurex, snakeskin-patterned. Casey Cadwallader opened his first collection for Mugler with striped bike shorts and a matching blazer with rounded shoulders; he also showed them in swirling marble patterns made in collaboration with artist Samara Scott.
Especially when styled with the aforementioned blazers, cycling shorts have a Eighties Lady air, the feel of women in suits changing out their heels for sneakers. They're sleek, flattering, comfortable. They're here to stay — for at least one more season.
Photos via Getty / Runway Photos via Imaxtree