We asked Ana Nichoola founder Anna Glowinski to tell us about how she got into cycling and into designing stylish cycling clothing.
Many women get into cycling in their twenties, and in the case of my mum, late thirties. It opens up a whole new world of freedom, activity and sociability. I was lucky enough to have grown up in such a world, with my parents throwing me into my first bike race aged 5, I can’t remember when cycling wasn’t as natural to me as walking, or eating.
Cycling wasn’t as cool when I was growing up as it is now, I fell in and out of love with the sport depending on who I was friends with at the time and what was happening in my non-cycling life. But it’s so much a part of me that I couldn’t keep away for long. I followed the normal path, went to uni, got a degree, planned a gap-year, but then cycling forced its way back in and it’s shaped my career, my social-life and everything inbetween, for better or worse!
I was a qualified cycling instructor during the summer, loving the enthusiasm of kids experiencing the independence of cycling on the roads for the first time, or the trepidation of adults who wanted to learn. It was during this time that I started designing cycle clothing for women and began AnaNichoola. It has been evident my whole life that this was a market that was hugely untapped; women have until recently been marginalised when it comes to product, design and availability.
The thing is, as soon as you start cycling more than a couple of miles, cycling really does demand specialist equipment and clothing. Being out in the elements, moving your body on your vehicle creating friction, sweating, being next to cars, getting caught in the dark…all these things require something to alleviate their outcomes. Getting wet, getting cold, saddle sores, callouses, not being seen, all these things will ruin the time spent on your bike. And time spent on your bike should always and only be a Good Thing!
When I design, I take an outcome as a starting point. So if we look at this season’s Hello Yellow jacket the outcome was to create something bright and visible both at day and night, and water resistant. The perfect commuter jacket. But it needed styling, I wanted the women who wore it to be proud when she got off her bike and walked into the office. I took a blazer shaped top, to keep it smart, and played with the tailoring until the shoulders were comfortable and the sleeves long enough. I added a rear splash guard, shaped in a loosely curved peplum at the hips, creating a flattering and on-trend shape that had a function too.
Styling is important in the AnaNichoola brand, it’s not about clothes just ticking a box and doing the job, it’s about making a statement and expressing the happiness people feel when riding. Clothes that you would be excited to wear, just because you like it. It’s that simple. But knowing that they work and will improve the quality of your ride, makes your whole cycling experience an all-encompassing Good Thing. If everything associated with your ride makes you smile then my job is done.