The sheepskin wheels to the front

A hit at the Innsbruck Olympics, a European cold-country coat finds favor with Americans
November 30, 1964

Three European ski teams and a good percentage of the spectators at the Innsbruck Olympic Games last February endorsed the rugged warmth of the sheepskin coat (SI, Feb. 10). This fall the sheepskin is covering a great many Americans as they make sporting rounds—from a quiet seat in the stadium to a lively seat on a bike. The qualities that have made sheepskin a favorite for European skiers also make it a practical new fashion for the cyclists photographed here. Not only are sheepskins wind-resistant and warm, but they are remarkably lightweight for their bulk. They also are virtually indestructible. Depending upon the quality of the skins and the tanning as well as the country it comes from, a sheepskin coat costs from $70 to $300, making it the least expensive "fur" on the market.

Like sheepskin coats, bicycles are zooming in popularity this fall. Sales for 1964 will total four and a half million—and not just to youngsters. The best-selling bikes are the lightweight, three-speed models designed for the pedal-pushing adult. The revival started in California (no sheepskins needed) and now has spread eastward. Americans are wheeling about on city streets and country lanes from Portland, Ore. to Portland, Me. In New York a cult of Sunday cyclists rents geared bikes from any one of a dozen places in and around Central Park, which has miles of bicycle paths. While competitive bicycle racers carry a bottle of sweetened tea strapped to their bikes to revive them, the New York cyclists have developed a more sociable habit. They gather at The Ginger Man, a new, friendly restaurant near the park, to assuage their thirst with beer or Bloody Marys—and nourish their spirits with omelets cooked by Cordon Bleu Chef Dione Lucas.

Nancy Wilson (left) wears a helmet by Adolfo, an English sheepskin by Highlander ($170) with a poor-boy wool sweater ($12) and cycling knickers ($20), both by Geist and Geist.

Norma and Richard Flender (right) try out lightweight bikes rented from a nearby shop. Norma's sheepskin coat, embroidered in Polish folk-art patterns, is imported from Poland by Cepelia ($93.50). The three-quarter sheepskin worn by Dick is tawny brown. It's imported from England by Dunhill Tailors ($210).

The Patrick O' Neals and Ned McDavid start a Sunday bicycle excursion to the park with Nancy Wilson and Dick and Norma Flender. Cynthia O'Neal (left foreground) wears sheepskin lift coat ($200) with kidskin pants by Courreges ($70), both from Samuel Robert. Swedish sheepskin ($175) worn by Patrick O'Neal (center) is at Bloomingdale's. Ned McDavid's coat (right) is by MacDouglas of Paris for Abercrombie & Fitch ($250).