2014: The Things We Learned

The new year seems like a perfect time for a bit of corporate reflection. A good opportunity to take a minute and look back on what we’ve learned over the past year.

Our street line that was launched in late 2013 has taken off rapidly. Our gear is now being offered in more outlets and more people are calling, emailing and dropping by the shop than ever before. As a result we’ve had the good fortune to talk to a ton of people out there in the riding public. From swapping riding stories to hearing a myriad of real world experiences with our gear and that of other manufacturers, we learned a lot.

The funny thing about designing – be it making a better ice cream scooper or building a better motorcycle jacket – is that the people who use the object the most generally have ideas on how to improve it, even if they’re not explicitly stating them. Some of our best design ideas have come from watching someone futz with a strap, trying to bend down a collar that’s digging into them, or squirming against a bunched up liner. Simply keeping our eyes and ears open has been one of our greatest assets.

On the flip side of that coin is the fact that a lot of people simply don’t realize there’s a better way. Countless times we hear from people who’re wearing gear that is either ill-fitting or built from inferior (sometimes bordering on unsafe) materials. A suit shouldn’t bind in the crotch, a jacket shouldn’t require two additional layers to keep you warm, gear designed to hit the ground in a crash shouldn’t be single-stitched in impact zones. One of the greatest joys of what we do is seeing someone put on a good piece of gear for the first time and witnessing that moment when they realize there’s a better way.

Another disconcerting thing we gleaned this year from listening to riders is that the riding apparel industry is broken. Well, perhaps broken isn’t the right word – let’s say it’s “divided.” Gear on the bottom end of the price spectrum is incredibly poorly constructed, gear on the high end has a near-criminal name brand markup and often suffers from some of the ills we addressed above.

We don’t want to play that game. We can offer apparel that is just as feature rich, uses the same materials and is built with the same (or in our opinion, better, since we own our production facility) standards than some gear that clocks in at more than double the price.

Our goal is simple: to build the best, most thoughtfully designed gear we can and to do it without the price reflecting an inflated marketing budget.

In 2014 we learned a lot, and as we move into 2015 we’re excited to learn even more. Throughout the year here on this blog we’re going to write a new feature each week about what we do and how we do it. So check back often, and hopefully we’ll learn something new together.

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