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‘Long live’ award: Women’s-specific design

Maybe it needs a new name, but the concept is sound.

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Is women’s-specific design dead? Maybe it just needs a different name. It certainly continues to catalyze countless conversations about what is best for the ladies in the room.

The ongoing debate is okay for one very important reason: More than ever, the “room” is full of ladies, which is why it’s perhaps time to change women’s-specific to the more apropos women-led, or women-run moniker.

Look at Liv, whose bikes are not just designed for female cyclists but are also created by them. From its boardroom, to its teams of engineers, designers, and brand managers, Liv is unwaveringly committed to the women who work in women’s-specific design.

In apparel, women-led brands are becoming de rigueur. Ashley Rankin started Shredly when she couldn’t find any baggies that A) fit and B) weren’t boringly black. Both she and the dirt-loving ladies at Wild Rye offer us mountain bike duds that are both flattering and functional. Ever notice the expensive price of a bike kit? Leave it to a pair of midwestern women to solve that. Des Moines’ Velorosa sells pro-quality kits at norm-core prices.

And finally, we had to wait for a woman to say — yell, really — that one size (or even four) does not fit all. Jenn Kriske’s Machines for Freedom recognizes that female cyclists often fall far outside of a traditional sizing spectrum and offers apparel ranging from XS to XXXL.

Although women’s-specific design has brought us some of the best bikes on the market and certainly the most flattering and fun apparel to date, it’s also inspired a trend that will last far beyond patterns and styles: women-led and women-run. Is women’s-specific dead? Nope. It has simply evolved.