Why Don’t Commuter Jeans For Women Exist?

Posted on October 2, 2014

I have spent the past year advocating tiredly (yes, tiredly) for the mainstream inclusion of assistive devices (If you are new to me, I am a paradoxical bike riding cane user). And I have to admit, it stopped me in my tracks when I realized I could not buy a most basic item of clothing. Commuter Jeans, designed for bicycle commuters, are only made for men. There are no commuter jeans for women.

What is the difference between a commuter jean and any other jean? Not too too much, but it’s enough for me to feel left out. Check out the features of these popular men’s commuter jeans.

Swrve Commuter Jeans

Swrve Commuter Jeans

Swrve has been making commuter clothes since 2005. Let me clarify; Swrve has been making commuter clothes for men since 2005. Features of Swrve’s Commuter Jeans include a durable denim blend. Reflective belt loops. Reflective material under the cuff. Articulated knees. A gusseted crotch. A slight rise in the saddle. And most importantly, a pocket for a lock.

Levis Commuter Jeans

Levis Commuter Jeans

Levis Commuter Jeans are touted as ’normal jeans’ with the addition of a few important features. First, spandex. On top of that, they are coated in an invisible water and odor resistant finish. But the selling point of these jeans are the undetectable reinforced seat, the reflective strip inside the pant leg, and a loop along the back waist that fits a full sized U-lock. It is worth nothing that Levis is introducing a woman’s commuter jean in Fall 2015. It is also worth noting that Fall 2015 is a year from now.

Osloh Traffic Jeans

Osloh Traffic Jeans

Osloh Traffic Jeans come loaded with a wide array of features… for men. Again, spandex. Reinforced seams. Double lined pockets. Anti-stink/anti-moisture coating. These jeans even come with padding in the seat and crotch. There is not a detail in these jeans that I wouldn’t want for myself.

So why aren’t there commuter jeans for a (tomboy) lady like me?

Commuter Jeans for Women

Have you ever noticed how women’s shirt and pant pockets shrink as the seasons pass? And while there may be an aesthetic value to small pockets, they serve no functional purpose. Check out my best friend’s butt (and how the U-Lock fits about halfway in her back pocket).

Mindy Commuter Jeans

Now check out her boyfriend’s butt. Yes, there’s also a U-Lock there. And it fits perfectly.

Alex Commuter Jeans

Note: When you ask your bestie for ass-shots, you should always expect to receive ultra close ups.

Mindy and Alex often go for bike rides together. They also lock their bikes up together (it’s disgustingly adorable). But Mindy never carries the lock. It doesn’t fit in her pocket. This gentleman just pockets it.

Mindy Alex Bike

I once tried to ride a bike in a pair of skinny fit jeans. They were so tight that I tripped and fell when I tried to kick my leg over the seat (suddenly I feel an obligation to remind you that I am a clumsy walker). That spandex give is essential, even if just for the moment you mount your bike.

Finally, the rise on women’s pants have been pretty low for about a decade now. I do something called the ‘shoe-tie test’ where I check my butt crack when I tie my shoes. If crack shows, I change. I share a lot, but sharing my buttock cleavage with the driver behind me does not interest me.

Wikipedia Buttock Cleavage

So what features should a woman’s commuter jean have? For me, the answer is easy. A woman’s commuter jean should be everything a man’s commuter jean is. I’m not someone who wants a, tightened, pinked up version of a men’s clothing item, but maybe you are. But isn’t this why choice is so important? Because we are individuals. With different needs. And different styles.

What are your needs? What’s your style?

This is what I am learning. When we stop to look at our most basic needs, we will all find that some very little, very simple things are overlooked in a very big way. And it is sometimes a gender thing. Sometimes a disability thing. Sometimes a race thing (drug stores don’t sell brown bandages). It can be an anything. And while I enjoy asking why, I also like celebrating those who try to change this.

So on that note, my next ‘fashion‘ post will be about Taylor Johnston and her Gamine Workwear jeans. As a professional gardner, Taylor wasn’t getting her needs met. So she did something about it.

Gamine Workwear Jeans

Furthermore, there is a pair of women’s commuter jeans in development and early orders are being filled. Check out the all new (and crowd funded) RYB (Ride Your Bike) Jeans.

RYB Commuter Jeans

Update 1: We have an option! Outlier makes a Woman’s Daily Riding Pant. Con: These pants are not denim, denim being the core material this post is focused on. Pro: But the material is an environmentally friendly, stain/stink resistant, durable material designed to look and feel like a pair of jeans. I can’t wait to try these out.

Update 2: Another option. The Ligne 8 Aubrey Straight Leg Jean. Pro: The pockets are big enough to fit things in them. Con: Their Women’s Commuter Jean has 6 Performance Features to 7 Performance Features of the Men’s Commuter Jean.

Update 3: Another option. Rapha Women’s Jeans. Pro: They are stain resistant and fast drying. Con: The pockets are tiny.

Do you know of a Woman’s Commuter Jean? Please get in touch. I hope to continue updating with more options.



About Me: My name is Liz and I write about the stigma of disability and assistive devices. Sometimes my writings bleed into other aspects of my life (i.e. today I’m writing about the clothes I wish I could wear). I am currently petitioning my favorite store, asking them to sell my cane since they sell eyeglass frames (I’d be so grateful if you signed). I believe the inclusion of assistive devices in mainstream retailers will ease the stigma of disability. In that same vain, I believe inclusive clothing made for a woman’s body and need will empower each person who wears it.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Noam N. Kogen October 2, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for exposing this story, Liz.

  2. Ileana October 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I have seen a few other options for ladies denim that you might like to check out. I tried to post a few links here, but my comment wouldn’t go through. Check out Ligne 8 and Rapha’s women’s collections to find them. Also, Vulpine and Giro have a commuter pant option that’s similar to the pair from Outlier. Hopefully some other companies will follow their lead and offer more things for us ladies!

    • The Girl with the Purple Cane October 2, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Ileana, Thank you for your input. I apologize for my wordy response.

      To be totally honest, I found myself a bit turned off by the Women’s Rapha jeans, they feel like an afterthought to the Men’s commuter jeans. The fit is as tight as any pair of leggings. The pockets are proportionally small and do not hold the model’s hands. The features mention a reinforced pocket for a D-Lock, but I can’t find this pocket in photos. I didn’t include these jeans because they didn’t fit my perceptions of what a commuter jean should be. And I now regret that, because it defeats the entire purpose of what I am trying to do, which is to give options to female riders.

      I think the Ligne 8 appears to be a more functional jean to me (again, that’s just me). Their Woman’s jean has 6 listed features to the Men’s 7, but the pockets appear large enough that nothing falls out. Often when I read about Men’s commuter jeans, they feature ‘extra deep pockets’ so nothing falls out. I have yet to find this as a feature of Women’s commuter jeans.

      I am going to add both Rapha and Ligne 8 as updates.

      I included Outlier because the Men’s and Women’s Dungarees were the same material, and while not made of denim, they were influenced by denim. Vulpine does carry a Men’s commuter jean, but not a Woman’s. Giro simply does not carry commuter denim or denim-like material for either Men or Women.

  3. Virgnia Bemis October 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Duluth Trading Company doesn’t make any commuter jeans now, but they do make good workwear for women, jeans, overalls and other good things. Maybe they’d be interested in starting a line.

    • The Girl with the Purple Cane October 2, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Wow Virgnia. I had never heard of Duluth Trading Company, but at first glance I feel very moved at the messaging on their front page: ‘Cut Loose in Free Swingin Flannel’, ‘Real Women Tested and Approved’, ‘The Grab and Go Jacket’. They’re not sexualizing, but they’re also not pandering. Well Done, Duluth Trading Company!

  4. Kristen Wolfe October 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

    I’m surprised to hear that you haven’t heard of Duluth Trading, their commercials are quite cute and catchy. But then I’ve never heard of you until about 15 minutes ago, so I guess we’re even there. I rabbitholed here from an article about fashions to an article about pockets, then to your site posted in the comments. I honestly couldn’t even tell you where it all started, perhaps FB? Or maybe Ello. Nice read though. I’ll be sure to bookmark you in my oversized smartphone that won’t fit in my pants I wear to work. Thanks for the interesting read!

    • The Girl with the Purple Cane October 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Haha and I hadn’t heard of you until you commented 🙂 I am in the process of placing an order with Duluth for my next post on women’s workwear.

      I am so glad the rabbit hole led you to my blog and I hope your phone didn’t fall out!

      P.S. I’m becoming obsessed with Duluth after Googling their commercials: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maG5McPKwrg


  5. Nancy Govaars October 15, 2014 at 8:01 am

    A little off-topic but I had a similar experience when I walked 4-5 days/week for exercise. I live in the Pacific Northwest so long training pants are necessary most of the year to keep out rain, help disipate the sweat, be comfortable for walking up hill and down. So far so good. But if you need to carry keys, ID, cash or maybe a cell phone you can forget it. Look at women’s exercise gear. At best there’s a spot for a small key/iPod/wad of bills. I carried the car keys, my ID and a dollar bill or two plus cell phone in my jacket pocket most of the time, however when it got too warm for a jacket I had to make choices.

    Clothing for women doesn’t always make sense!!

  6. Rebecca October 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Found this post via your comment on Momentum. Thank you for talking about this! Most of my bike-everywhere-for-transportation friends are men, and I’m always jealous of how they can just pop a u-lock, phone, and wallet in their pocket and go. Meanwhile I’m fussing with bags and baskets and wondering if there’s enough spandex in my new jeans to accommodate kicking my leg over the seat (spoiler: there wasn’t, and the curbside fall that resulted was pretty spectacular). It’s interesting that mens’ clothing tends to be semi-functional by default, while it’s a challenge to find (non-athletic) women’s clothing that accommodates moving around and carrying everyday items.

  7. Bike Pretty October 16, 2014 at 3:59 am

    Even with the updates, I find this post to be long on outrage and short on research.

    A really simple google search brought up two more examples of women’s commuter jeans that are not listed here. I didn’t even need to dust off my bike-fashion-blogger super powers.

    Also, there’s an assumption that the anti-stink coating that some of these products feature is anything more than marketing hype. Those coatings are a gimmick, and in the best case scenario, will survive 25 washes. Which is certainly not the life of the garment. Hopefully.

    And what is with the assumption that a woman can’t purchase men’s commuter jeans? It’s not like they do a gender exam at the register. I’m sure that Swrve would be happy to take your money in exchange for their product.

    Are you concerned about the fit? Buy mens jeans. You’ll send a message to Rapha et. al that women will spend the money on functional commuter jeans. Voting with your dollars is extremely powerful. That’s how Levi’s started making skinny jeans for men. Because they noticed that men were shopping in their women’s department and they designed a product to meet that need.

    Concerned about fit? Get them altered. You’ll be supporting a local tradesperson and keeping money in the community. An alterations specialist will also be able to help you repair clothes that have become worn. Mending is a really important aspect of environmentally conscious consumption.

    Are you worried about the cost and the fit? Buy the men’s jeans when they go on sale and use the savings to pay for the alterations.

    As of now, your idea of the perfect women’s commuter jean is not proven to be commercially viable. Swrve *used* to make a women’s line. But they stopped because the market didn’t support them. Making women’s commuter jeans should not be a non-profit operation.

    Finally, if Mindy doesn’t want to carry her own u-lock, that’s cool. But if she does, can’t she just wear a belt?

    • The Girl with the Purple Cane October 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Melissa. I am a fan of Bike Pretty, and am so thrilled that you took the time to comment (though it did make my heart sink a bit). I’ll acknowledge from the outset that I am in no way a perfect writer and I believe you made some really good points. I suppose I want to try and better explain my reasoning for an impassioned post like this one.

      I advocate for the inclusion of assistive devices in mainstream retail. I look to the history of the now fashionable (previously stigmatized) eyeglass frame to see the power retailers have in mainstreaming something. This is the argument I am applying to my post on women’s commuter jeans. I like to think of it as ‘if you build it, they will come’.

      When I look at the history of Tomboy (not even workwear) garments, it has felt very figuratively and literally closeted. Brooks Brothers made a secret closet of women’s wear when they found out women were donning their men’s garments. Why didn’t Levi’s release both men’s and women’s commuters at the same time? I simply don’t understand.

      The things you mentioned are all great solutions, but to me, that’s all they are. I see them as efforts women have to make to ensure their garment is as functional as the men’s counterpart.

      I will continue to update this post with women’s commuter jeans as they come to my attention (I’m updating today) but I have yet to find to find a women’s commuter that is as thoughtfully and originally constructed as the men’s version.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    • Kat March 28, 2015 at 9:17 am


      I found this site while looking for jeans I could wear comfortably on a bike that wouldn’t rip or wear out or prevent a mount. Still haven’t found them.

      Men’s jeans don’t work well for me. I have hips and thighs that most men do not have. If I can get the pants over them then they gap at the waist. Badly.

      I do not have a figure for men’s clothes. I have a plus sized hourglass shape. It looks great in many things but men’s jeans are, alas, not one of them.

      And get them altered, surely I should expect a hundred dollars worth of pants to fit fairly nicely from day one? Without dropping another 50 or so to get them to look like they should have in the first place? That is, if you can find someone to do it. Those are dying skills outside of a few specialized areas.

      Now I suppose I could do the work myself, I do have the skills and a machine. But again, why should I have to do this to a new pair of rather pricey jeans? Is this just another thing women should just have to put up with?

      I think not. The retailer that makes a pair of plus/curvy fit jeans in decent denim with bike friendly features will get my cash. I don’t intend on buying mens’ anything.

    • Michelle October 2, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Honestly I think your response to this article comes from a negative and poorly backed conversation. The point of -purplecane’s arguement is based around a thoughtful feeling of women athletes being neglected in everyday life. We do not all want to do things “pretty” just maybe we rather be practical. Because when you do something longterm, everyday as a ritual it feels wrong that because you are a woman fashion says your efforts do not count.

      That is my opinion, like it or not, do what you will.

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  11. Lisa July 27, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    My friend wears these Beta Brand Bike to Work skinny jeans and really loves them!


  12. Tom Schmit July 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    It is a shame that most name brand jeans only cater to the style / fit of women’s jean. One would think that they would see the huge sales market, in the function of women’s jeans.

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