Kevlar Jeans for bikers!
Not sure how many of you know, but I’m a biker. And you know the saying, there are 2 kinds of bikers: the ones that crashed, and the ones who will crash. Too bad that I’m in the first category already and still recovering. That’s why I’m very happy that I found a way to get involved via an interview with David Ackerman regarding motorcycle apparel designed to protect in case of accident. If you are just like me, there is good news – you can contribute via crowd funding to the project!
Cristian: Hi David! I always thought that motorcycle apparel is manufactured by some big corporations and there is little to be done to support the development of products that suit best each individual biker. It looks like you’re going to tell me that I’m wrong. What exactly are you doing?
David: Well I think you are actually right to an extent, I think some of the big brands do a good job coming out with a wide variety of Jackets and Helmets so almost everyone can find one they like, but the big name shops are slow to react to the needs of riders and they haven’t really tackled leg protection, especially for riders who aren’t dragging their knees around a track or who don’t want to wear chaps. So, I started Tobacco Motorwear to be a rider responsive company that can crank out really good looking gear that people want to wear, that can save their hide if it has to. As you know, we started with our Kevlar lined Selvedge denim jeans and people love them. We have a kickstarter up now and it’s blowing up. We’ve tripled our initial goal and its been amazing.
Cristian: I know you can’t ever be too safe on a motorcycle, but sometimes just throwing in a pair of jeans and ride with the wind is way too appealing to dress up the protective apparel. I think your idea is somewhere in the middle which makes it even more interesting. How did you come up with the idea?
David: Well, I live in LA and lane splitting is common but you kind of do it at your own risk. After a few close calls I was like, I need to look out for myself and get some gear, but it’s also a big fashion town and all you could get was these frumpy mom jeans with seams everywhere or stuff that looked very sport bike oriented. So I got with some guys in the fashion industry and we made some jeans that look awesome, better actually than anything in my closet for quality and fit and all that and then we said ok now lets make these safer. Which is kind of backward when it comes to what we were seeing out there.
Cristian: How are the jeans actually made? And how do they look?
David: Well they are made by hand with old-school raw selvedge denim in LA, then we put in a Kevlar liner that covers all your high impact areas. They look like classic jeans like you would have seen on James Dean or Brando back in the day. This Denim is made in this 100 year-old factory in North Carolina on these old machines that made jeans when, you know, they were work clothes for cowboys and miners and they had to last because these guys would buy one pair and wear it every day. Now jeans are made to be cheap and most brands know that if they kind of fall apart quickly you will be back to buy another pair. So Tobaccos are the opposite, its an investment and they are built to last a long time.
Cristian: But does really Kevlar make a difference in a crash? It’s just doesn’t look like a bit of Kevlar will save the day!
David: That’s a great point because I don’t want people to go out and go crazy thinking they are invincible. What Kevlar does is save you from road rash and then the Tobaccos look good, right, like normal jeans. In a crash where you lay it down and go sliding down the street the Kevlar will protect your skin. But, if you get hit by a semi going 70 on a freeway, you still got problems. Like you said before, people want to sport jeans on their bike, it’s comfortable they look good, but your Levi’s are going to rip apart like crape paper, Tobaccos let you sport that look but have the protection there too.
Cristian: Are they waterproof?
David: No. They are jeans, so they have some limitations. They are raw denim so they are going to feel stiff at first but they break in and form to you. One great way to break them in is actually to soak them and then go on a ride on a hot day and they will dry and kind-of morph to fit you in the riding position. It’s a really cool process and every pair will be unique to its owner.
Cristian: I know from my own experience that wearing the riding protection makes walking and moving a bit difficult. Is it any different with the Tobacco jeans? And what about the very hot days?
David: I was worried about that so when we were designing Tobaccos we tried to make them wear as close to a typical pair of jeans as possible. We chose a breathable knit Kevlar. When its hot out and you are riding you won’t feel a difference when you get off, if it’s a hot day they are going to be warmer than normal jeans because you got two layers where before you only had one, right? But I wear mine everyday, on and off the bike and I have worn them on hot days out and about and it’s not bad. I mean on hot days you would rather not be in jeans anyway, you want to be in shorts, but they aren’t bad. 10-15% warmer, maybe.
Cristian: How can you make sure they fit when ordering?
David: If you order on Kickstarter, after the funding we send out a survey and we will have a detailed fit guide in that that provides measurement instructions.
Cristian: Now, the good news is that any rider can get involved with the development of the Tobacco motorwear. I think it’s one of the first times when every individual biker can actually make something for the motorcycle apparel. Tell us about this.
David: So we want to be rider responsive so we are creating a brand that actually implements the ideas of the riders who wear our stuff. So our line is always evolving to better suit the rider. Already people have been asking for this and that and we have some great new ideas coming down the pipe.
Cristian: What are your goals via crowdfunding?
David: We didn’t know what to put for a goal. You sit there and go, what can we ask for? We want to reach it but its difficult to say what starting a new business is going to cost. So we decided on 20K which would be enough to make some jeans and get them out there. We had no idea how many people wanted a product like this and we just blew it up, as of now we are like 3 times that, over 60,000. Crazy.
Cristian: Why should a biker fund your idea?
David: I think three reasons, Tobaccos make riders safer, we are USA made, so that’s quality and supporting this economy and our workers which, for us, has been really cool to be able to do, and because our gear looks really good. Our Jeans and anything we set out to make in the future is going to look good on you and on your bike, whether you ride a Harley, or a chopper or bobber, or a café-racer or a crotch rocket, whatever.
Cristian: What are the pledging levels and what is the most appealing right now?
David: I think the best deal is the FULL PACKAGE you get your choice of 3 different colors, black, blue or tan canvas, and you get to chose a Tobacco T-shirt. The jeans also come in our Blank Canvas Tobacco Pouch which is this cool canvas bag that you can use as a tool bag or make it a saddlebag or something. All that for $260, can’t miss.
Cristian: Your name is unique, Tobacco Motorwear Company How did that come to be?
David: Naming a company is important. We knew we didn’t want something that was too motorcycle-centric, like Full Throttle or Iron Mayhem or something, because we wanted look of the jeans to be subtle and understated. We were looking at a big list of names and years ago I had seen this amazing leather jacket, that I couldn’t afford, and it was brown, and they called it tobacco colored. I remember thinking that, that would be a good name for a leather jacket company. After I floated the name, we just kept coming back to it and it worked on a lot of levels. We wanted something that would be memorable and have an old-school feel, to us Tobacco makes us think of these old dirt roads and farms and barns with old bikes in them, and our denim is from North Carolina. We even learned that the Indians and early settlers used Tobacco as a balm to heal cuts and bruises, which we protect against, so it just fit.
Cristian: How much longer is your Kickstarter going on?
David: The Kickstarter ends January 11th so not that much longer. Act now! I hate sounding like an infomercial guy but because we are so new at this, after the kickstarter it may take a little while to be at the point where you can just order Tobaccos anytime, so if you are interested check them out for sure.
Cristian: What should people do to check them out?
David: Just go to Kickstarter.com and search Tobacco Motorwear.
Cristian: Anything else.
David: Yeah, just get out there and ride. We started this whole thing because we wanted to have an excuse to spend more time riding and doing what we love so, I know I’m preaching to the choir but, get out there and do it. Be reckless, responsibly, as we say.
Cristian: Alright, thanks, David Ackerman from Tobacco Motorwear.
David: You got it. Anytime.