Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mod essentials: the cycling shirt

Mod fashion has drawn its inspiration from a variety of sources. Take the Fred Perry pique polo for instance. Who else would of thought of using a tennis shirt to make a fashion statement? Without the 60s Mods, the Fred Perry would have never become the trendsetter it is today.

Mods have also been known to borrow items of clothing from other sports. The tight knitted ski jersey with its bright colors and racing stripes were now being worn outside of the ski chalet. The boating blazer popular in the early part of the 20th century, in yacht clubs, were later tailored and given a new life, far away from the salty air. The bowling shoe, with its smooth sole and unique style, was the perfect garment to help you show off your latest moves on the dance floor. If you are going to do The Monkey or The Jerk, might as well do it with style! The famous boxing brand Lonsdale has had many adepts since the Mod Revival. Paul Weller and The Jam have been largely responsible for bringing the more casual look to the forefront.

I bought this book when I was 16 and admired Paul Weller's sense of style in his Lonsdale shirt and bowling shoes
One of my favorite pieces of Mod gear has to be the cycling shirt. Usually seen in vibrant colors with its signature mock turtleneck collar, it's long been part of a Mod's casual arsenal. I bought my first cycling shirt when I was 16 in Toronto. Imported directly from the Carnaby Cavern in the UK, it had all the marks of timeless Mod garb.
On a trip to Paris in 1988 wearing my favorite Carnaby Cavern cycling top and trousers
Last year I bought this great long sleeve retro cycling top from the good people at Atom Retro. Made by Madcap England, it has all the Mod appeal I was looking for. With its royal blue, off white and red racing stripes, it's proper casual attire. Worn with a Harrington, a pair of Levis and Adidas trainers, it's the perfect combination for a leisurely stroll on the Lambretta. That is unless you actually take out your bicycle.

This season, Fred Perry has come out with a limited edition set of 4 different cycling shirts. With an obvious nod to its Mod past, it has successfully rejuvenated the look. Traditionally made from Merino wool, Fred Perry has opted for their time tested combed cotton pique fabric. Other interesting features on some of the models include a back pocket and ribbed funnel neck and cuffs.

The day it became available online, I immediately placed an order for the attractive multi-stripe shirt. They were already out of my size! Come on Fred Perry! You missed the boat on that one! Unlike other limited edition collections, like the Paul Weller or The Specials collaborations, you couldn't pre-order this one.

So I went with my second choice (I probably would have bought that one too anyway). The sky blue, black and white zip-up funnel neck shirt has that timeless, classic, clean look we all expect from Fred Perry.

To the people who don't know me personally, you might be surprised to learn that I ride my bicycle to work every day. Yes, even during the snow covered cold Canadian winters! My bike is my main form of transportation. One thing is certain; this Fred Perry will not be worn during my commute. This one is for special occasions only...


  1. great stuff,check out this series of books,mainly the 2nd one as it has loads regarding the start of the 79 mod scene in sheffield and rotherham

  2. Fantastic! I had a friend in the UK grab me the World Champion Stripes version as soon as I could. As a fellow Mod and ex bike racer I couldn't resist.

  3. nice, i was in paris1988 too. feby. and august.