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Posts Tagged ‘Fashion’

motorcycle fashion historyNo one can deny the huge impact that the American motorcycle and biker sub-culture has had on the fashion industry.

Motorcyclists spend a great deal of money and effort to find protective gear that looks fashionably good, but there is a small minority who tarnish the sport.  You know the type…  stick-on bunny ears on the helmet or the camouflage trousers and the faux Mohawk that should’ve stayed with the 90’s punk bands.

I’ve been on a clothing hiatus for a while, but back in 2009, I blogged at length about motorcycle fashions with… Limited Edition Clothing; Motorcycle Style; Dressed For Summer and the FXRG Jacket Road Test.  For all the hype fashion gets, it’s truly irrelevant and a way for the untalented to stand out.  Because if you’re talented, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?!

This week my friends over at Bennetts provided me an interesting visual graphic on the Evolution of Motorcycle Fashion & Clothing.  Check it out HERE and take a tour through motorcycle clothing history.  Who knows, it might even help you distinguish between clothing features that are pure fashion and those that have some genuine protective merit.

If however, you wake up in the morning with the desire to stick on a Mohawk or those bunny ears then it’s probably best that you hand over your motorcycle keys because you are about to make a motorcycle fashion faux pas.

Photo courtesy of www.bennetts.co.uk

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Nick Jonas - Harley Clothing and H-D/Ford

Targeting younger buyers.  It’s not a news flash!

Harley-Davidson has been executing a number of marketing efforts aimed at 20-somethings from whom Harley is an aspirational brand.  The H-D SVP and CMO, Mark-Hans Richer, has pitched the brand to the young-rebel-with-tats ethos through attitude-enhanced ads, social media efforts, and lifestyle programs around counterculture happenings.  And Mr. Richer should know.  He used to head up marketing for General Motors’ defunct Pontiac brand until he left in 2007 to take on the marketing helm at H-D.

The result?  Like magnets, teenagers everywhere are attracted to the motorcycle counterculture lifestyle.  As proof positive the above photo is 17-year-old Nick Jonas (of Jonas Brothers fame) who coordinated his clothing with a Harley-Davidson Special Edition Ford truck and a matching Harley-Davidson sweatshirt while he refuels his vehicle.  OMG!  Like the best band evah, like who knew that, like Nick pumping his own gas would be like such a hawt H-D fashion statement?!  Clearly a Jonas Brothers haircut is more devious that we first thought. Is this priceless H-D advertising for the younger generation or should youthful motorcycle fans across the nation be sickened?   I wonder if Harley marketing had a hand in the fashion wear for this almost 20-something motorcycle magnet.  Hey when you’ve got it, you got it!

In a conference room on West Juneau Avenue I can see it now.  A Jonas Brothers concept motorcycle.  A Jonas Brother movie, with H-D product placements where Nick as an orphaned teenager along with his hipster dog set out to save the planet on a Dark Custom when all the land is in ruins.  Harley will ask the Jonas Brothers to rename their next album and call it the Milwaukee Daydream.  Huh?  Is this what they mean by Harley-Davidson fandom?  Nick will probably have a couple of unanswered questions like “Where is Milwaukee?” and “What are motorcycles?”, but hey try and enjoy yourself and have fun with that choreographed in a self-important, “I’m so cool!” kind of thing you do.

Forty years ago, if you worked hard and saved your pennies, you too could live the life of the rich and famous, if only for a night, or a weekend.  Now the gulf between the worlds of the rich and the poor, between the haves and the have-nots, is so vast as to seem uncrossable, and the public is upset.  Not only right wing Tea Party members, but left wing Democrats.  How did we get such a raw deal?  It’s about jobs and foreclosures, stupid!  How did Obama and his minions get it so wrong?   But, I’ve digressed.

Back to Nick, his hair cut and this manufactured hipness script.  I’m not really the kind of person to get caught up in the latest trends or fashions.  Some days, I’ll wear a black t-shirt and then other days it’s a white one.  The media has trumped up the Jonas Brothers.  The industry said they were above criticism, because they were getting kids to come to their shows.  But can you name one Jonas Brothers hit?  I can’t.

Music or not, seeing Harley-Davidson with Nick Jonas stresses out my “Tolerability Index.”

Photo courtesy GSI Media and Just Jared

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H-D Clothing Bundle

H-D Clothing Bundle

There are many who think the new Harley-Davidson Iron 883 (Dark Custom) is the most beautiful bike sans clothing, with U.S. press fawning all over the “back-to-basic” motorcycle.

Enjoying my Friday morning cup of “bucks” I thought how H-D marketing should offer limited editions of the machine with new clothing bundles to increase motorcycle sales.  H-D and fashion go hand-in-hand.  There isn’t much the motor company can do to improve the no frills design of the Iron 883, but having a few extra choices when it comes to what clothing gets draped over the bike is surely a good thing, right?

Call it the “Fashion Victim” series.  Offer up a complete pre-bundled look with the motorbike.  This turn-key and new way of expressing your individuality might appeal to the younger generation which the company desperately solicits.  Motorcycle clothing can be found in the most prestigious boutiques around the world, but think of the time you’ll save when H-D does the heavy lifting traveling the world of fashion and pulls together leading brand names in motorcycle wear and pre-packages them for your exclusive fashion statement.

There is precedence for this.  A couple of years ago MV Augusta designed a limited edition motorcycle (Hydrogen) specifically for Hydrogen Jeans.  Customers could order designer jeans or the motorcycle to match right online!

So, in keeping with this Iron and new clothing bundle theme it would include:

  1. Jacket: Levi’s blanket lined, Big E. Extra cost for lining worn out at right hip due to knife rubbing.
  2. Pants: Vintage Lee work pants via Ballyhoo Vintage.
  3. Shoes: Chippewa moc toe (very Irish!). Cordovan polish then mink oil make them look well worn.
  4. Gloves: Marmot
  5. Shirt: JCrew. If you don’t like a fake cowboy shirt from JCrew then it’s Sears Western.
  6. Belt: Billykirk Mechanic’s. Very cool hidden buckle avoids tanks scratches.
  7. Knife: Leatherman Flair. The only one offering a corkscrew. Dude don’t look silly carting around tools but can’t even open a bottle…essential.
  8. Glasses: JPeterman. Captures that Aermachi Club look.
  9. Dew Rag: don’t be caught naked without a snot-rag/potholder/coaster bandana. Or wearing instructions!
  10. Reading material: Snowboard Magazine (A fave to maintain “dude” speak)

Cost?  Of course undertaking a ‘Bianchi‘ like journey from Amsterdam to Chicago isn’t cheap, but I’ll let H-D determine the expressive value of the package and price accordingly.

Maybe I’ll go decaf tomorrow?!

Photo courtesy of 10engines.

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davidsonsMen have dominated the world of motorcycles.  Sure women on Harley’s date back to the early 1900’s and the first women’s motorcycle group in America was Motor Maids, which started in the 1930’s.   However, in the past 10 years or so women riders have skyrocketed.  Women love motorcycles, it’s a fact! Women riders during the last 20 years have gone from 4% to 12% of all motorcycles registered in the US. Women represent 10% of the U.S. motorcycle population, and nearly 12% of new Harley-Davidson purchasers.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation estimates that one-third of students in the rider safety courses are female.  Harley has clearly figured out women are a growth market for a number of reasons and in that process they also discovered that following the money trail in a household often leads to women.

Karen Davidson

Karen Davidson

One individual who has shaped and dramatically influenced women riders is Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of HD co-founder, William A. Davidson.  She is the daughter of Willie G. Davidson, yet doesn’t seem to get a lot of press unless it’s about participating in a charity event.  As the Creative Director for General Merchandise and responsible for Harley-Davidson MotorClothes I found that somewhat peculiar.

Karen is “4th Generation” and one of three children by Willie G.  She studied fine arts and fashion design in college and was employed in the NYC garment industry for a time.  She began a free-lance leather design business in 1985 and joined HD in 1989.  The company created a new, branded line of apparel and accessories for its customers at that time – MotorClothes.  She is involved in most everything from creative direction of the leather collections to design of diamond rings.  She is an active rider and involved in charity events from the Women’s Day Ride benefiting Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Film contests to the Love Ride.  She has been a key company “booster” in support of women motorcycle riders.  Second only to Leslie Prevish (Women’s Outreach Mgr) who is also very involved with women in motorcycling.

Karen’s influence was noticeable in 1991 when the runways in Paris and New York looked like biker rallies.  Harley-inspired emblems were on everything and Bloomingdales had a “Bad and Beautiful” shop devoted to women’s motorcycle jackets.  That year the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave HD a special award for its influence on fashion.  In 1998 she was involved in a Patent and Trademark trial (and appeal) over the mark “BIKER BLUES” for clothing line which Harley ultimately prevailed.

Beside owning and riding motorcycles, women have formed a presence within the industry that has gone way beyond being umbrella girls or trade show booth babes.  And in no small part thanks to Karen Davidson’s continued efforts to promote women in motorcycling.  I prefer to think of it as a gender-neutral activity, but I get the marketing angle.

Avis and Effie Hotchkiss might have been the first women to ride across the U.S. in 1915, but I’m sure they’d be pleasantly surprised at how far women have come from the motorcycle race track to urban streets.

 

Photo’s courtesy of HD (Family Picture L to R: Karen, Michael, Bill and Willie G.)

 

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