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Will H&M be successful in peddling East London cycling to an international customer?

Lo and behold, we have another H&M collaboration on the cards, as it announced the launch of a new capsule collection for March with Brick Lane Bikes.

Influenced by the urban cycling style of East London, the 11 piece collection was designed by H&M and trialled and road tested (literally) by Brick Lane Bikes, the specialist bike shop in the heart of the capital.

I’ll admit to being surprised by the collaboration – I’m only recently familiar with Brick Lane Bikes, having moved to East London in the last month, but prior to that, I would have had little idea of their influence in the area. Perhaps for those who have lived longer in London, the influence of the East London bike scene makes more impact, but having lived up North up until this year, I’m not sure how many customers outside the capital will ‘get’ the collaboration. Certainly when compared with the recent  collaborations with internationally recognised labels like Versace, it seems like an odd choice. That’s not to say that I don’t applaud H&M for looking to broaden their horizons, particularly by showing support for independent businesses, I’m just not convinced that the collaboration doesn’t slightly whiff of a London-centric attitude. It’s the kind of assumption that everybody is familiar with something because it’s influential in the capital that really does irritate when you’re living outside of the bubble of the city. Thinking more broadly, you have to wonder if those even further away than just up the M1 will care a jot about the East London cycling scene when the collection launches globally in March. If its influence has failed to register in other parts of the UK, is the ‘urban style’ of East London a strong enough name to successfully carry a collection internationally?

Having said that, from a design perspective the collection looks good, and is made of organic and recycled materials to marry the sustainability of cycling with its fashion influence. It features jackets, shirts and trousers designed to remain fashionable on and off a bike– far removed from the sock-tucked-into-trouser style that we’re used to seeing on the cycle savvy commuter, so we can all be grateful for that. When it hits stores in March 2013 I don’t doubt that it will do well considering that the recent rise in cycling as a choice for commuters, particularly across the UK, will draw fashion-conscious shoppers to the range. I just wouldn’t be surprised if the emphasis on East London as the heart of the cycling world draws a few knowing eye rolls from shoppers outside of the capital and a few puzzled expressions from abroad.

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