For years, Sarah Canner could not find the courage to ride a bicycle in her home city of Paris. It all seemed too dangerous. It wasn’t until a Vélib’ station, the Parisian bike-share system, appeared outside her apartment that she decided to overcome her fears and explore the city on two wheels. She absolutely loved it.
Though, that’s not to say her fears weren’t completely unfounded. One dark November night, Canner decided to change her riding attire from a “loud printed jacket” to a simple black coat. Her lack of visibility, she believes, is what resulted in a close call with a bus. The experience imprinted a powerful lesson: as long as drivers can see you, they’ll treat you as just part of the traffic. Visibility is safety.
Canner wanted something visible to wear over her regular clothes — you can’t wear a loud, printed jacket every day — but the only option she could find was an awkward crossing-guard’s vest. Knowing how that feeling of safety is so important to getting more people on bicycles, and spotting an opportunity for safety wear that’s not only functional, but stylish, Canner founded Vespertine, producing high-quality, stylish, reflective apparel.
Nothing embodies Vespertine’s lineup of Haute Réflecture more than the VESPERT ECO vest. Made from 100% recyclable Eco-circle® material, the brightest 3M Scotchlite reflective tape and featuring a unique, flattering cut, the VESPERT ECO is designed to not only turn heads, but also make yourself visible to cars from at least 2000 feet away. The lightweight, breathable vest is designed to work with any outfit — from breezy summer looks to warm, layered ensembles — and packs up into a nice, stowable pouch.
In addition to the VESPERT, Vespertine has also released stylish and reflective blouses, dresses, blazers, coats and shell jackets. Canner has also partnered with recycled knitwear icon Heather Glista on a micro-collection of sweaters and skirts, as well as folding bicycle leader Brompton Cycles with a line of Merino wool hats and headbands.
For Canner, her work with Vespertine is just not safety, it’s empowerment. If more folks feel good wearing high-visibility clothing, that means more folks feeling safe on the road, and ultimately more folks riding bikes or otherwise getting around without the help of a car.