[dropcap]L[/dropcap]evi Strauss & Co. made the first blue jean in 1873. While blue denim existed before the jeans company, Strauss’ idea was to make a pair of blue denim work pants that wouldn’t fall apart easily, putting metal rivets at points of strain. They were an instant hit. Seventy years later Wrangler jeans came on the scene, using 100% Sanforized fabric to reduce shrinkage to less than 1%, and setting a new standard for the industry.
These days we all know jeans aren’t just for workmen or wranglers; they are a staple in nearly every closet from workaday wear to haute couture. The motorcycle community has caught on as well, and motorcycle riding jeans are now seeing explosive growth.
Nearly every motorcycle apparel brand offers riding jeans in their lineup, and just as in the fashion world there are myriad style, feature, price and gender options. Most riding jeans have pockets for removable armor in the knees and reinforcements in impact areas for extra protection.
“For the most part, jeans sell themselves,” says Joanne Donn of Gearchic.com. “A basic pair of riding jeans retail anywhere from $100-$150. These typically don’t require much help in terms of fitment; they either fit or they don’t. They also don’t have additional features that aren’t visible to the rider like venting, liners, etcetera, although they may offer reinforced fabrics on the inside along with pockets for additional armor upgrades.”
For certain riders, motorcycle jeans just make sense. Many riders want to use their motorcycle doing everyday errands or going out at night, and don’t want to wear a full-on traditional riding suit. While it’s good to see motorcycle apparel companies catering to those folks who might not otherwise use motorcycle apparel, some materials used can be deceiving in terms of their abrasion resistance, and not be much better than regular “fashion” jeans.
Construction is important, and that depends on the apparel company. Most incorporate Kevlar in one form or another, as Kevlar blends are generally stronger.
Companies like Drayko, one of the innovators in motorcycle riding jeans, use a lining that features Dyneema, a super strong fiber. It’s soft, breathable, flexible, non-allergenic, and touted as being vastly superior to basic woven or knitted lining alternatives.
In order to protect your customers, stock riding jeans that are highly abrasion resistant and meet European standards for safety if you want to stock the higher quality products. “We define our products by these standards,” said Wil Cope, sales manager at Drayko. “Our jeans might be slightly warmer than regular jeans, but they are much more abrasion resistant.”
“The great thing about riding pants is that they don’t look like riding pants, yet have Kevlar reinforced areas in the hip, knee and rear. This choice would be great for the rider wanting to have a good looking riding pant that is well protected and looks good even off the bike,” said Heath Cofran of Alpinestars. Alpinestars’ riding jeans for women have pre-shaped leg construction that is anatomically optimized specifically for the female riding position.
“Aesthetically, who doesn’t love wearing a good pair of jeans? Add protection in key areas and now you have a great pant to wear on and off the bike,” says Donn. Big business agrees. Wrangler has made a heavy investment in promoting their own brand of motorcycle riding jeans.