Subrosa Bike Company, the brainchild of Ryan Sher and Ron Bonner, the one-time producer of limited edition purple jeans under The Shadow Conspiracy name, have recently released a new limited edition item: sweatpants, complete with the Subrosa logo screened down the one leg of the sweatpants. While my quick reaction could have been, “Be honest Brian, you hate these as much as the limited edition purple jeans from a few years back,” I chose to look deeper into myself and remember all of the ways in which I’ve benefited from sweatpants, and why, at the end of the day, sweatpants aren’t such a bad thing for a bike company to produce.
Number one: I grew up wearing sweatpants while riding. Not because they were cool, and not because I wanted to be equated with the evolving fitness movement of the late ’80s. The reason I rode bikes in sweatpants were multi-faceted. The legs were flexible, the cost was cheap, and to be honest, a lot of pros wore them in the magazines at the time. They were accepted until the beginning of the ’90s as something that wasn’t necessarily fashionable, but ultimately served a purpose, and brands such as GT/Dyno, Hammer, Vision and Haro made sweatpants that fit good, helped riding and didn’t cost an arm and a leg to represent one’s favorite BMX/skate company.
It wasn’t until a precise moment in the very early ’90s when sweatpants became a fashion faux pas. I want to say it was sometime between the release of the Blind Skateboards video “Video Days” and the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry Seinfeld divulges the deeper meaning of wearing sweatpants in public.
For many, myself included, the Blind video signified the beginning of the big pants era, and the official end of the Vision Street Wear era. And in that particular Seinfeld episode, Seinfeld spotted George Costanza wearing sweatpants. He says to Costanza, “You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweat pants? You’re telling the world: ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'”
This is, essentially, the battle cry of the BMX industry in 2014. BMX has proven time and again that it can’t compete in normal society, and that brands such as Krew, Levi’s and any number of respectable skate brands make better pants than any BMX company could ever dream of making. So what option did Subrosa take? They took the miserable, so we might as well be comfortable” route. (This is not entirely true, just an amusing analogy tying sweatpants back to George Costanza.)
Number two: I skewed from my rundown. It’s not all doom and gloom that a BMX company is making sweatpants. These actually look kinda cool. Arguably, I am a harsh critic when it comes to all things BMX and the tendency to half ass graphics, but Subrosa, time and again, has never fallen into that category. They actually pay attention to how their soft goods look. They’re not just slapping a pot leaf onto a t-shirt like the rest of BMX (at least I don’t think they are.) I think I’ve mentioned a few times that Subrosa’s approach to graphics reminds me somewhat of the Bully/Hammer brands that began in the late ’80s, and those were radically forward thinking designs for the time. 25 years later, it’s nice to see that certain brands haven’t forgotten where they once came from.
Number three: I wanted to see if I could write a substantial diatribe that touched upon Mark Gonzales, R.L. Osborn, George Costanza and my terrible sense of fashion in 1988, and have all of it relate to sweatpants. Thank you Subrosa for the inspiration.
Also, none of this should be taken seriously. I realize BMX sensitivity is at an all time high and I mean no offense to anyone.