Article By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The April 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
From the opening scenes of the video that announced the Black Brand apparel line to us, through to the bitter end, I could tell this was not going to be the same old same old that we’ve become use to in motorcycle gear. That video featured Jason Pullen doing stunts, riders drag racing, girls scantily clad, tattooed, dancing and raising hell. The whole thing is set to heavy music and is not by any means afraid to feature the real side of what goes on in our culture. So what does this have to do with a new line of riding apparel? Well, to be honest it shows this companies new approach to an honest product for a new generation. At the same time, not everyone rides a Harley so buying good gear leaves the average consumer with the option of wearing a jacket with a logo that you may not want to display. There is a whole segment of people out there that might ride metric or have built their own bikes and they want a good jacket that as much thought has been put into as they put into their bikes. Enter Black Brand..
For as long as I can remember there’s been three kinds of leather jacket choice for the average motorcycle cursing customer. 1. From the local Harley dealer where you will find a very good quality product but one that comes at a fairly expensive price. 2. from an aftermarket store where you can expect to try on everything on their rack and still possibly not find what you’re looking for in fit and style. Finally, 3. you buy a crap jacket at a swap meet and you basically get what you pay for. To this point there hasn’t really been an effort to focus on quality and well thought out features for the consumer in the middle of those ranges. Something that’s good quality, fits right, looks good and is affordable. Nobody thinks that the average customer today really cares about that quality but with the average next generation rider coming into the F age group of legitimate customers, that’s all about to change.
What Is Black Brand? Primarily their mission statement is to make leather jackets that fit right and do what they’re supposed to. Black Brand sat down with some seasoned veterans and made a list of what would be important to them in riding gear. Leading the charge for this brand is Howard Kelly, formerly editor of Hot Bike Magazine, Marketing director of S&S Cycles and a man that takes riding as serious as the Pope takes church. It wasn’t long until Howard lent his years of experience from being a real rider to this new idea. First and foremost was the quality of the jacket. They started from step one that if anyone was to spend $200 – $300 on a leather jacket, it should be good, fit great and last for ten years or better. Additionally, some of the problems of other products on the market would need to be solved. All the Black Brand jackets have YKK zippers. This happens to be the number one failure on jackets so that was a must. All of the Black Brand leather jackets have a six-year manufacturer’s warranty giving the customer piece of mind and the confidence in spending a little more for a better product.
Fitment: When it comes to fitment the aftermarket has always had odd sizing. It’s almost been like the people that manufacture these garments haven’t ever ridden a motorcycle, nor have they set a standard of American sizing. Black Brand met with their manufacturer and worked out their sizing so that the American Standard sizes are guaranteed. All men’s and women’s sizes are the same from style to style, store to store and they will fit the same way every time. When that translates to women, they shape their jackets to fit women. Their sizes are true and there is a serious amount of attention paid to the style of them.
Attention To Detail: It might seem like a simple task but the details that matter to real riders are often those that have been missed by the industry to this point. A lot of jackets you see have a gun pocket or a napoleon pocket. When that jacket also has a vent these pockets block the vent. Black Brand conquers this by making a mesh pocket. They put a zipper on the inside of their vests that will allow the liner to be folded out of the way in the event you want to sew a patch to it. Anyone who has had a patch make their liner crooked knows how uncomfortable it is forever after that. They got rid of straps that flap in the wind while you’re riding. The snap on the Mandarin type color for instance. 99 percent of people don’t use that snap so Black Brand took it off. These guys ride, they know what annoys a rider, and they fixed them.
Specialty Jackets: In this new apparel line Black Brand built as many interesting jackets for women as they did for men and not just from women who ride. They also wanted to give passengers as much ownership in the ability to decide on a better purchase option as the rider has. In addition to their line of good quality mid-level jackets, Black Brand is also launching a few specialty jackets to reach into the higher fashion end of apparel. Take for instance the Sheared Beaver Jacket – Over the top as far as fashion goes it’s a top quality Sheepskin hyde with real Beaver fur trim around the collar that retails for $651. If for some reason you aren’t into a furry beaver, they have an alternative…. The Brazilian Waxed Jacket with of course, NO BEAVER FUR! $591 Both of these jackets are expensive, by Howard’s own account, but with the quality of the product and the styling they feel make them more than worth the value. If you search sheared beaver on the internet, you’ll see a lot of couture fashion jackets that sell for 6 and 7 thousand dollars. Add in the 6-year warranty, it’s a no brainer. The name does make me wonder if they aren’t eventually going to release another jacket for the kids out there reliving the seventies that might be called the Natural Beaver, it would of course have a full beaver fur outer cover. Incidentally, if you search for shaved beaver on the internet, the results will be far less relevant to motorcycles so be specific in your search.
In the Men’s specialty line there is the Fahrenheit Jacket at $451 retail. The reason for the name is that it has Sun Reflective Leather that stays 20-25 degrees cooler in the sun than a traditional leather jacket. They are offering this in a perforated and non-perforated style and they come with an inner liner made from 375 that absorbs and dissipates sweat and absorbs odor. My personal favorite is the Street Team Jacket – This is a Carhart type jacket as far as it’s style, loose fitting and rugged looking. It’s made from a blended material with D30 Body Armor, soft and flexible yet providing full protection of back, elbow and shoulders. It’s an unstructured jacket that doesn’t look like a football players shoulder pads and has a 37.5 material inside liner that wicks moisture away. The retail is $250.00 and that’s for a fully functional performance jacket.
The Compression jacket: This jacket has clean lines, looks good but a pretty simple jacket. It has vents up the back but it’s structured to be comfortable with your arms up like you would be as you are riding. The retail is $300. It looks like you’ve had it for five years the day you bought it because it’s designed to be comfortable and look cool out of the gate. Every jacket supports the troops: Black Brand connected with Homes For Our Troops, who build homes for post 9-11 injured vets with wheel chair accessible features. In this partnership not a portion of proceeds from sales but a specific dollar amount from each jacket goes to help build a house for a vet. Every jacket comes with a patch thats sewn inside that says “I just supported an injured vet.” Helmets: Black Brand is also launching a line of DOT helmets, the Cheater .50 and the Cheater .75. They’re both fiberglass shell construction where the EPS liner is molded into the shell. It makes the overall size of the helmet much smaller. To further the minimization of size, multiple size shells means that a small will physically be a smaller shell than a large. These are full DOT helmets and still safer than half of the comparable helmets that are on the market. The Half Helmet is $99.95 retail price and the 3/4 helmet is $130.00
Future Releases: There are plans for more releases like the leather hi-top sneakers that they are expecting to release about mid-year. It’s an all black leather sneaker with a white sole. There is a shifter pad on the toe, reinforced toe, pucks in the ankles and reinforcement in the sole itself to keep it from giving on top of a footpeg. Looks like a converse from 20 feet away, but will actually protect your feet in the event you go down on the bike. I for one believe that our generation is more than willing to pay a reasonable price for quality gear that works and lasts. Bottom line is that this whole line is a much needed step in the right direction. They have paid close attention to what’s missing in our culture today and are providing it in a good solid way. You can hit their web site starting early March or if you happen to be in Daytona for Bike Week, the product will be on display for the first time for consumers at J&P Cycles. Until then check out their video today at www. blackbrandmc.com