Surely many things, including bikes, fall in and out of fashion for reasons that have more to do with fashion than with reason. Hemlines do not rise and fall because of changing attitudes toward sexuality, unless attitudes toward sexuality change radically every five years. They rise because they had previously fallen and fall because they once rose. Fashion is not a subsidiary idea but itself an explanatory one. Any New York student of styles of transport and recreation will have seen, for instance, the rise and fall of roller skates, a craze that claimed the cover of this magazine more than once in the nineteen-seventies, and its replacement by in-line skating, and then, eventually, the decline of both. All of this had less to do with changing social visions than with the inevitable pull of tides and time.
Adam Gopnik, “Naked Cities”, The New Yorker (5 October 2015), 82-83.