STALKED: Rachel, Founder and designer, Michaux
5 June 2014
If you haven't yet noticed the sharp spike in fashionable cycle-wear in London recently, then it's a very good thing you're reading this particular interview! Rachel, a keen cyclist herself started up the brand Michaux, specialising in uber cool cycle gear with gorgeous rucksacks that even appeal to the non cyclist such as myself!
We caught up for a gentle (and I mean very gentle) bike ride around the city which I soon brought to an end in favour of stalking this stylish designer!
What do you do and why do you love your job?
I'm a cyclist, designer and founder of British-made cycling accessories brand Michaux.
I combine my love of fashion with my inner nerd by designing high quality accessories with just that little bit extra consideration to functionality and practicality than the average fashion handbag.
What are your influences?
Sportswear design for it's functionality and performance materials. Designers such as Christopher Raeburn, The Row, Rapha. National Geographic. Music by Olufar Arnolds.
How did you get into fashion and what inspired you to combine this with your love for cycling?
For me, cycling is the perfect time to develop ideas and problem solve as I find the freedom of movement allows my mind to wander without constraint. Cycling also makes you very aware of when something doesn't function well (for example a handbag swinging around or a skirt flapping in the wind) and I find myself conjuring up ways to solve these problems while I'm on my bike. The quite specific needs for a little extra function in your fashion as a cyclist has definitely made me more conscious as a consumer of fashion and I take more time hunting for the perfect items.
How do you think the bike industry will evolve in the next 10 years?
Since the financial crises people have been forced to change their attitudes and reevaluate their lifestyle and ways of spending and saving. Cycling is not only a way of life but a healthier and cheaper approach to living, and once a cyclist-always a cyclist. It's difficult to go back to public transport once you've discovered the benefits of commuting to work by bike. Of course it's not for everyone and that's fine, but I hope the knock-on effect as more people find their friends cycling will encourage others to try it out or at least be more open to it in the future.
(Above her own design in handles!)
Where do you shop in London and where do you eat?
For trousers I go to American Apparel as they have the highest elastane content as well as the highest waistline (both great for cycling). Basics are Uniqlo heat-tech (also great for cycling) and then the odd designer purchase from Christopher Raeburn (again the perfect combination of design/function) or a boutique in Shoreditch such as Denham.
Favourite food at the moment - Chicken Karaage at Tonkotsu East.
How would you define your personal style?
Sportsluxe is the best way to describe my personal style and I spend time looking for those items I can easily cycle in as well as look smart.
My ideal outfit is often an oversized shirt dress (worn - black silk shirt dress from Denham) worn over leggings (worn- Khaki metallic leggings from American Apparel) as these are easy to cycle in and can be dressed up or down with heals, flats or trainers. My favourite shoes to cycle in are DrMartens or these (worn) cut-out brogues by Adidas SLVR which are great in the summer and always gain compliments.
I also love my Nike Stormfit jacket which can be worn long or zips off at the waist to make a cropped jacket - so versatile and precisely defines the combination of design and function that I love.
My Sawako Furuno leopart print helmet was a birthday gift and never fails to gain comments from passers by - adding the perfect hint of pattern to my outfits which are always simple, colour-blocked and un-patterned.
Would you say your personal style influences your designs?
I prefer a paired-back approach and often spend time taking things out of a design, or outfit, to simplify it rather than adding more in. Less is more in my book. My personal style and approach to life is quite practical and this comes across in my designs as everything is considered from a practical point as well as Does it look good? I often also think Can I go camping in it? I want one item to do all jobs.
Five items you can't live without?
There are few things I would struggle to live without and I don't tend to get attached to material things. Having said that, I can safely I am a big fan of wearing mascara and hate going out without it, I would desperately miss cycling if this was taken away from me, and the Great-Outdoors - I get really itchy feet if I don't get to go on an outdoor adventure every couple of weeks, even just a day trip out of town to rebalance my energy and remember what life is all about; I couldn't live without that.
Also my Michaux Lightening Rucksack is a favourite possession. I've often tried to downsize to a smaller bag but panic if there's even the smallest hint I might not be able to fit everything and more into my bag. The roll-top opening is perfect for this as you can wear it rolled-down every day and still have the option of filling it to the brim if you get caught out on an impromptu shopping trip on the cycle home.