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Photographs: Taz Darling

A long time ago I used to work in a bike shop. I loved getting into work early to build some wheels, move a long-term bike project along or tidy up yesterday’s messy workbench. Those mornings were dreamlike; the closed empty shop out front, the low sun glinting on the spokes in the window and the smell of the coffee brewing…
But, like any job, other days were not so good. After time the ‘float’ days spread apart until the romance of the quiet workshop, the top drawer bike builds and the hypnotic tick of freewheels started to wear off a little. It’s a paradox really, because the thing that you once adored – the bicycle, the thing you’d prop up outside the cafe and admire – becomes the thing you make a living from. From that day the relationship changes. It’s no longer the escape, the freedom and the joy of the thing that fills your days off. It starts to lose something.
Many people who work in cycling will tell you a version of that story, I’m sure, but what’s different for me is that I’ve always loved messing with bikes – it’s a compelling urge from within. I just can’t help myself. Even now, on a Sunday ride with less experienced folk, I will fix their flats – not just because I’m quicker, but because I love bicycles and I love fixing bicycles, even other people’s bicycles.
And I started early. As a kid, whenever I was presented with a new sweater or shirt, the standing joke in my house was, along the lines of “it’ll be cleaning his bike this afternoon”. Given any opportunity to get out into the garage and tinker, I would, and many a new t-shirt has been oil stained before the swing tag has been snipped off it, even now.
So aprons have been a part of my bike wardrobe ever since those bike shop days. I’ve worn out as many as I care to remember and when I was looking for a smart/casual affair for a mechanics photo shoot a while ago, Dawson Denim cropped up, so we bought one and were suitably impressed.
We liked their story because they really know their stuff (just check out their all-knowing glossary of denim terms). Denim is their business and the Japanese material they use is sublime. Also the fact that Dawson offer a service beyond ‘just’ a purchase, as they make-do-and-mend (they will do repairs too), really impressed us – it’s an apron for life.
So we were massively honoured when they agreed to make us these beautifully 1-ed aprons. They have to be seen to be fully appreciated. Even the packaging is worth keeping. Beautiful job, so what’s not to like?
Since I’ve had mine, I’ve baked in it, cooked the dinner, washed the dog, washed the car (an annual event) and everyone’s admired it. The one thing I haven’t done in it yet is fix my bike.
Obviously it’s far too nice for that.

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