Brazilian-born Lorenzo Martone is the founder of Martone Cycling Co., a fashion and design-driven bike company based in New York. The former PR executive and designer of Nycked swimwear was inspired to create bicycles that are not only functional, but also fashionable. Martone’s striking monochrome creations—powered by SRAM’s duomatic gear system and known for their signature red chain—have become accessories for stylish urban peddlers, including Karl Lagerfeld. Martone will soon be launching a collection of bicycle accessories to compliment his polished city two-wheelers.
You’ve approached Martone Cycling as a fashion company. Why enter the arena with bicycles over clothing?
Well, actually we created the hashtag “#fashionbikes,” so basically we positioned our bike company as a design/fashion driven product, being almost like a bridge between the two industries. My background is in Fashion PR, so I try to use the fashion industry as a model because it’s what I’m familiar with. But hey, nothing to worry about! We will launch a capsule collection of bike-inspired clothes next year!
Do you plan to build on the four colors currently offered? Is there an option for custom color or prints?
We actually make bikes in five colors: white, black, red, gold and silver. Every year we will come with a new collection, new colors and potentially new frames, too. We also created a collection of accessories–a mix of bike and fashion accessories, such as helmets, fenders, locks, lights, and then bracelets, key rings and necklaces!
Have you thought about designing helmets as well?
Yep, we launch them October. They are crucial to keep city biking safe—especially in cities like NY where taxi drivers drive like crazy and the cars go so fast because of the big avenues.
Having worked with many leaders in the fashion industry, what do you respect most about their work?
I think attention to detail. Persistence. Leadership. Recently, I worked with Karl Lagerfeld (and his team) on a project for Melissa shoes and I’m fascinated that after all these years, he still knows everything that’s going on with the brands that he takes care of, and gets involved in every aspect of the business. I saw him proofread an interview for a journalist, via fax…like correcting comma by comma what his office had typed—impressive attention to detail.
How has this influenced your career?
I have so many good friends that I’ve worked with (or haven’t) that inspire me: Richard Christiansen from Chandelier, Marc (Jacobs), Helen Kupfer in Paris, my friends Jose Carlos and Christina Bicalho, (that are now part of the bike project, too) and then I love the work of Almodóvar and his use and vision of the color red. Love Nick Knight, Fabien Baron, Nicolas Ghesquière, Aaron Young, and Curtis Jere….
Who are your favorite designers right now?
For women’s, I think Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (for Valentino), then Alex Wang, Prabal, DVF…For men, I enjoy Prada and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin. But I went to Japan and loved some of their designers too. I’m obsessed with United Arrows …
Aside from your bike shops, you’ve also launched the collection with Moda Operandi and The Alchemist in Miami. Have they ever sold bikes before? How did these collaboration come about?
They have never. We were the first, which was also the case at Saks and Colette. The list goes on. I loved working with these visionaries—they all understood my vision very quickly: my interest in making bikes cool, sexy, fashionable. I think the bike industry was a bit intimidating—it seemed like you needed to be a pro, wear black Lycra shorts and own a speed bike to belong there, while I see biking as a everyday pleasure, a perfect object that takes you from A to B in no time, for no money, while you burn calories and do good to the environment by not using gas or oil.
The retailers you mentioned—The Alchemist, Moda Operandi—they are all fashion outlets that sell 5K USD dresses and that ended up jumping on the wagon with me—trying to make bikes look like an accessory: something you have fun buying, collecting, matching up with what you are wearing, taking pictures and sharing on your social media. I respect and admire these stores because they were open minded, and shared the vision, the dream, of fashion bikes with me.
Where else can we find the bikes?
In the US at saks.com, martonecycling.com and bike stores—ZEN bikes in Chelsea, HUB in the West Village. Then in Montauk at The Surf Lodge and in Bridgehampton at Lucille Karnak Art Gallery, also at Sylvester & Co. in Sag Harbor. Hopefully more stores will be carrying us soon!
What are your thoughts on NY’s new Citi bikes? Do they present a challenge in retail that you didn’t anticipate?
I see it as a great opportunity. I’m close to the TA (Transport Alternatives) and I was very aware they were coming! I think they are amazing and they make the bike industry more serious, bigger and more prominent. I think a lot of people are testing them now and using bikes in the city for the first time. Hopefully that will open some new channels for us…like someone uses them and decides to buy their own!
Are you an avid rider yourself? For sport or for leisure?
I use bikes everyday to go to meetings, have meals with friends, bike with my dog on the West Side Highway—so yes; I’m a bike fan! I ride our Martone Cycling in gold or white—easy to see me around 🙂
Will you be riding anywhere exciting this summer? Where will your travels be taking you?
I’m off to Copenhagen this Tuesday to launch the bikes there with CIFF and Storm, then taking one week off in the South of France. Definitely riding bikes, non-stop!