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In 2020, finding themselves cooped up at their homes and needing solo escapes, Peta Takai and Christina Ooi did what a lot of people did for an outlet: they rode bikes. Longtime friends and cyclists living in the year-round sunshine of Los Angeles, they had been riding since well before the world became acquainted with the finer points of viral load, variants and vaccines. But in 2020 the bike became essential.
Ooi took up bikepacking, expanding soon to multi-day trips. This led to some realizations. She needed better bibs—much better. And those bibs needed more personality.
Somewhere in there was an “a-ha” moment for the two friends: they could make those bibs. A dream from five years ago of launching cycling apparel—a dream that was pursued to the extent of meeting with representatives from factories and fabric makers but then shelved—suddenly roared back.
The duo had long turned heads for their colorful kits, leading to plenty of “Where did you get those?” on every group ride. Both had studied and is now working in the world of fashion—Takai consults with companies and Ooi works with Revolve Group keeping up with trends in luxury fashion—so they have a natural ability to put together outfits. However, said Takai, “we didn’t realize that not everyone knows how to do that.”
Their backgrounds have made them well-suited to bring the kits of their dreams to reality. Last year, Ooi, who has studied pattern design, began taking apart women’s bibs and playing around with the chamois and fabric to design a pair that she would want to wear while bikepacking for days on end. Takai and Ooi are now getting ready to introduce the world to their brand: Paradis.
The premiere collection, which draws on that experience of riding farther into nature, is called “Into the Wild.” Accordingly, the European-made collection is heavy on leopard prints and loud colors—think lime green and hot pink. “In 2020, we got destroyed mentally,” said Ooi. “We don’t need colors that are going to ground us in earth. We need these party colors, these fun colors that make us happy, that make us feel excited.” Takai, who, true to form, was wearing a purple top when we spoke with her, added, “When I put on color, I feel like a million bucks.”
Even though the designs are fun and meant to stand out, Paradis wants to keep its jerseys and bibs as flexible as possible, so Takai and Ooi have devised colors and patterns meant to pair well across the line, no matter what particular pair of bibs or jersey you pull on. The final result is a collection that is attention stealing, without being obnoxious.
Takai and Ooi have bigger hopes for their brand beyond just selling kits they want to wear. Used to being, as they put it, among five-or-so women on 100-person group rides, getting more women on the bike is a goal they hope to pursue through Paradis. Part of that is creating a wide range of sizes, from XXS to XXXL. “We don’t want women to feel like they can’t workout or get outside because they’re not the right shape, or they’re not the right look,” said Ooi. And, because they’ve been approached about their kits by plenty of men, they have men’s versions too.
Cycling is just the start. The duo plans to branch out into athleisure wear next, bringing the same ethos of fun prints and colors to places like hiking trails that are traditionally a fashion show of colors about as captivating as a corporate conference room. Ultimately, the goal for Paradis is to liberate people from that feeling of not belonging, no matter the activity.