How did Royal Enfield team up with premium motorcycle safety brand Alpinestars?
We Indians love our motorcycles. For most they serve as a cheap means of transportation, for some they embody a sense of freedom that cannot be experienced in a closed four-wheeled space. This is confirmed by the numerous “Wanderlust” stickers we come across on the back of Enfields. But there is an unsettling similarity between the two. While we love to ride, we also hate wearing any type of protection that might protect us from possible harm.
Fortunately, however, things are changing. Indian drivers are beginning to realize that a helmet is not the only protection needed on the road. Which, in turn, has prompted companies like Royal Enfield to take a more serious look at the equestrian apparel segment than before. Their latest venture is the result of a collaboration with the renowned Italian brand Alpinestars. But how did this collaboration come about? We sat down with Puneet Sood, Global Head of Apparel Business at Royal Enfield to get some answers.
Edited excerpts from the interview
1) How did the collaboration come about? And why Alpinestars?
To enhance the driving experience in India, our goal is to develop products that meet global safety norms and make them accessible, both in terms of price and availability. With this in mind, at Royal Enfield we are constantly updating our product range and trying to create an enviable collection through our collaboration with the best global brands. In this case, both Royal Enfield and Alpinestars have rich heritages in the motorcycling world and symbolize a fusion of authenticity and safety. Through this collaboration, we aim to provide our rider community with the essential tools needed to raise the standard of riding with high levels of safety, performance and comfort.
2) What expertise has Alpinestars brought to the table?
Alpinestars is the world’s leading manufacturer of professional racing products, motorcycle airbag protection, performance apparel and technical footwear. Alpinestars rich heritage and experience combined with Royal Enfield’s strong understanding of the Indian market have helped create the range of products to meet the needs of the motorcycling community in India.
The collection includes armored riding jackets, gloves and breeches that meet global safety standards. All riding jackets and breeches in this range are CE certified with protection class A according to the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations and are supplied with Alpinestars Nucleon flex pro CE Level 2 armor. In addition, the products are equipped with Alpinestars patented Drystar technology. The Drystar membrane makes the gear waterproof yet breathable, allowing the rider to withstand all weather conditions while keeping the rider dry and comfortable.
The range also includes 3 gloves, all CE certified to Level 1 EN13594:2015, KP and with premium features such as knuckle protection, palm protection, padding, cuff adjusters, screen friendly fingertips, accordion stretch panels and made from high quality abrasion resistant goatskin leather, polyester among others -Air mesh and waterproof Drystar membrane.
3) How do you intend to raise awareness in India, where driving safety is often neglected?
Our first task is to understand the unique needs of drivers in the Indian market. Customer expectations are evolving and they are looking for comfort and style beyond safety from riding gear. These are the pillars on which we build our range. In order to increase the acceptance of driving safety, we need to build a range that is relevant, diverse and at the same time accessible in terms of both price and availability. To check availability, the Royal Enfield Apparel range of equestrian clothing is not only available at retailers but also online through our website and other e-commerce stores.
Whilst we are building a relevant range we also want to ensure that we are providing our riders with the best safety products worldwide and hence the partnerships with brands such as D30, Knox, TCX, Alpinestars. We hope to further develop the equestrian gear market in India by raising the bar. With this in mind, Royal Enfield Apparel has launched a comprehensive range of CE certified equestrian clothing and also a full range of women’s equestrian clothing.
In order to increase awareness of safety, responsible driving and the right riding equipment, the company has focused on building the right communication in addition to developing the right product. It is important to educate consumers about the need for riding gear and how the gear can enhance a rider’s riding experience.
4) Have you noticed changes in buyer behavior? Are customers/drivers becoming aware of the range of safety equipment on offer?
Motorcycling has become a mainstream culture and a way of life for enthusiasts. Today’s riders are more aware, responsible and educated, recognizing the importance of wearing the right riding gear. Customers now expect safety, comfort and style from the riding gear they wear. With the rise of recreational motorcycling, more and more riders are investing in high performance motorcycles, coupled with an increasing number of motorcycle clubs in India, resulting in higher chassis usage.
While there are multiple offerings in the market, the larger Indian market has long been underserved in terms of products that are accessible in terms of price and distribution and made for the Indian weather and terrain.
Motorbike owners are also becoming more and more aware of the fact that the use of motorbike clothing must be independent of the distance or destination of the commute. To make this possible, Royal Enfield has focused on purpose-built riding gear, such as a lightweight full mesh jacket or lifestyle jackets with a slip-on pocket to make them easy to use and comfortable.
From an industry perspective, we see a lot of potential in the entire clothing and equestrian clothing segment. As more motorcyclists understand the need for safe and protective motorcycle gear, the industry is expected to thrive and grow and we are excited to be at the forefront of that growth and change.
5) Some of the products offered are on the pricier side, at least in terms of the Indian price point. What challenges did you face when developing a motorcycle safety clothing line for a cost conscious country like India?
At Royal Enfield, driver safety is paramount. The thinking behind the development of our apparel and gear portfolio was to offer a range that is relevant to our riders, regardless of terrain, weather conditions and travel destination. To drive adoption of equestrian gear, the company has focused on developing a range that is accessible in terms of price without compromising on safety, style or comfort. Our range of riding jackets starts at Rs. 4950 while helmets start at Rs. Opened to the Indian market in 1750.
6) Can you explain the Art of Motorcycling campaign in more detail? How was the response to the campaign?
ArtOfMotorcycling has served as a unique, engaging initiative and the brand has seen customer engagement and brand interaction produce exemplary results. It has also allowed the brand to reach a newer audience and spread the message of ‘pure motorcycling’. The campaign has resulted in a diverse audience from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities alongside the Royal Enfield community ranging from enthusiastic drivers and aspirants to artists, illustrators and graphic designers through our ongoing digital campaign brought together under one roof. Our plan is to keep #ArtofMotorcycling as a recurring event and as the next step forward we will look at its global expansion.
7) What are some of the milestones set by Royal Enfield Apparel?
We measure ourselves by the effect and not just by the turnover. When we started, our first benchmark was to build a comprehensive clothing range with a focus on safety, comfort and style. We would like to continue on this path and deal intensively and meaningfully with the community in order to further develop our clothing range. As well as developing the range, we want to join forces with our riding community and help them understand the importance of having the right riding gear for them, and in doing so, help develop the market as well.
(Image credit: Royal Enfield)