Jaime Dempsey, Anya Violet and Corinne Lan Franco are on a mission when it comes to motorcycles and impact protection. They set up their own apparel brand, Atwyld, to get more female riders wearing protective gear. We spoke to Jaime about what motivated them to get started and why they turned to D3O.
How did you get into motorcycling?
For me, it wasn’t anything that my family was into, I was just drawn to it from seeing motorcycles on the street and thought it looked like it offered a lot of freedom, independence and a little bit of thrill.
I’ve seen a lot from being inspired to travel on two wheels. It’s given me the chance to meet a lot of different people who have the same interests all over the world.
Where did Atwyld come from?
I knew Anya and Corrine, who are now two of my partners, through riding motorcycles and working in sports apparel. We were out riding one day in LA and when we stopped for lunch we were looking at each other thinking, most girls don’t wear any protective clothing.
We were wearing Urban Outfitters jeans and All Saints leather jackets, but we were like, someone needs to come out with something stylish that we would wear so we don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function. Then we thought we’re all in the apparel industry, we could actually do this ourselves.
Does more attention still need to be paid to designing motorcycle apparel for women?
I think there’s a big void in that market. We thought it’s really the time right now to cater to that void and get women thinking about riding with protective gear that’s really focused on them.
The larger brands will often take the men’s designs and size them down for women, but women need a little more care when it comes to sizing and fit. We wanted to bridge the gap.
We’re not going to be where you go for something super technical. We try and offer different levels of protection, something that looks like streetwear but with the function of technical gear.
So that’s the idea, to get that girl that’s not going to wear anything and get her to wear something to save her skin.
How did you find out about D3O?
When we started our first collection we looked at what armour everyone else was using and we were really attracted to D3O®. We like how low profile it is because we don’t want to look like technical gear. When the girls are wearing the armour, we don’t want it to look like they’re wearing it.
We really like how it forms to the body and it’s lightweight. The quality is amazing and the technical properties were just perfect, so we hit you guys up and we’re happy that you wanted to partner with us.
What D3O® protection are Atwyld using at the moment?
Our first piece was a base layer called the Convoy Armoured Shirt. It’s a moisture-wicking jersey with pockets for back, shoulder and elbow protection. It’s a layer you can wear under any jacket to turn it into an armoured jacket. That’s been a big seller and since then we’ve added the knee and hip armour to our best-selling denim.
We’re also getting into the LP1s which I think are great with a lot of breathability. We decided to switch to the LP1s in our Convoy Armoured Shirt, and also add the LP1 chest protectors to give it some off-roading capability.
We will also soon be introducing a new style called the Barricade shirt with Level 2 protection to give our customers the choice of adding even more protection. This style is currently in production as we speak.
The number of female motorcycle owners has risen dramatically in the US over the past 10 years. It also looks like a very strong, supportive community. Has that been your experience?
It’s amazing and we really get to see that with events like Babes Ride Out, which my partner Anya is one of the founders of. They started out with just 50 girls and now the attendance is 2,000-plus girls on motorcycles out in Joshua Tree.
We have girls that come from all over the world for that. Every year there are new riders, so there are girls assisting the new riders, showing them the ropes and that’s amazing to see.
Atwyld is always present at those events trying to get feedback. What do the girls want to see in their gear? How do we get the new girls to start wearing protective gear?
What sort of feedback do you get about your products?
We’ve had a few girls that weren’t wearing anything before and had some sort of accident or close-call, then they come to us and say ‘ok, I really see the importance of this.’
We also find that a lot of girls need to be educated. We have to show them what D3O® is and why the properties of D3O® are favourable compared to other brands, as well as why we use things like Kevlar and Dyneema.
Are you surprised at the response since you launched Atwyld?
We had no idea how it would go because we were kind of the first all-women’s focused moto brand out there. But the response we’ve received, not just from our customers but from the moto community and retailers, has been really positive. We know the demand is there and we’re trying to meet the demand, which isn’t a bad problem to have.
Jaime Dempsey is Director of Development and Production for Atwyld, overseeing designs from technical drawings into production, right into customers hands. Jaime is also the host of the History Asia travel documentary series Ride n’ Seek.