When Fashion Meets Motorcycles
It was only a matter of time before fashionable gear for women started gaining some traction. Well over a year ago, we interviewed Ginger Damon of Gigi Montrose and Arlene Battishill of GoGoGear. Both of whom decided enough was enough when it came to trying to fit a female body into a guy’s leathers and be happy with the result.
So each created their own line of motorcycle apparel making it designed by women for women…rather than designed by some dude who thought because he had a wife, girlfriend or sister he knew what women wanted to wear. As long as it was pink and sparkly.
Katie McKay is taking a slightly different approach. She’s turned a longstanding interest in fashion and a fairly new interest in motorcycles into Modern Moto Magazine – an online and print magazine that mixes motorcycle gear and apparel and lifestyle pieces, all geared toward women. Think InStyle meets Rider Magazine.
Getting there didn’t happen right away, but it did begin with a motorcycle ride.
“I started riding on the back of my husband’s ‘gixxer.’ Probably not the safest bike to get comfortable on. So I decided I wanted to learn to ride and that meant learning to ride a dirt bike first. I spent a year doing that. Then I got back on the ‘gixxer’ but this time I was the rider not the passenger.”
The ‘gixxer’ later became history when Katie bought a Ducati Hypermotard and her husband, Jason, bought a Multistrada. You can attribute that Duc attraction to Jason’s job as a service manager at the local Ducati dealer where the McKay family lives in Florida.
(BTW – Katie likes that her ‘motard feels like a cross between a street and a dirt bike. Although, she admitted her small stature meant the need to make some adjustments. More than likely since the seat height on that motard is over 32 inches.)
As Katie began to ride more, she wanted to ride with other women. So she started a local riding group called Girl Riders Network, and Katie’s quick to point out, it’s not a riding or motorcycle club.
“We’re just a group of women who like to ride together. We get together every other month and ride whether there are only two of us or 35.
But those rides started to evolve. The more Katie rode the more she noticed that most of the available gear didn’t really fit women that well or that the choices for women were often confined to something that was pink or bejeweled. (See comment above.)
So she started hunting for gear that was more fitting of the feminine form and changing attitude. When she found something she liked, she’d review it on Girl Rider Network, and the reviews began to accumulate. And gear companies started coming to her and offering items for her to review. She became even more focused on changing the way women riders looked at safety gear.
At this point, she could have kept Girl Riders Network as it was. But fate fell into line and into Katie’s life in a way that gave her an option.
“I found myself at the AIM Expo two years ago and decided to poke my head into the PowerLilly meeting. I met two people there who convinced me to turn Girl Rider Network into a magazine. And I learned about the Power Lilly Gas Tank competition for entrepreneurs.”
So Katie entered the competition with the concept for Modern Moto magazine, became a finalist, and in the process got teamed up with one of the leading writers and editors in the motorcycle industry, Mary Green.
While Katie didn’t have publishing experience, she did know how to bring a project from start to completion. She’d been doing so as a project manager for an architect for 20 years. She also had an interest and an eye for fashion, which she tapped into when going for the particular look and feel of Modern Moto.
“I wanted to be sure that the apparel and gear didn’t look like it was on a mailer or a catalog. I wanted a high fashion feel to the pieces I was reviewing because I wanted to appeal to the female buyer and reader who expected fashionable clothing to be portrayed that way.”
The first issue has been published and it’s kind of like now what? Yeah, there’s the next issue and the one after that and the next, but where does that lead?
“I really want this to be a full-time gig at some point. I want to be able to drive around in an RV, go to the different manufacturers and see their products first hand and maybe even influence them, too. It doesn’t need to be huge, just something I can do full-time.”
For now, Katie said that even though her daughter and stepson are 20 and 18, she still makes time for her them and her husband. Early mornings, lunch hours, and late nights become time for Modern Moto since she’s still working her day job and operating Modern Moto on a shoestring budget.
So what’s Katie opinion about current trends in women’s safety gear?
“I think it’s getting more stylish. There’s a tendency to design apparel now that looks like something you wouldn’t be uncomfortable or embarrassed to wear when you step off of your bike. That’s a pretty significant improvement.”
As for her ideal gear? While some of the below are items that don’t exist, it wouldn’t take anything for any of the existing apparel and gear makers to create these:
- Carbon fiber full face helmet, with tinted shield and retro-race graphics in black red and white with some CF showing; probably a Shoei.
- Cream-colored leather jacket with subtle, stitched, feminine accents. Lots of ventilation, high-rated, thin armor (including back), cut longer in back but tailored waist with diagonal cross zipper and collar and Inner and outer pockets.
- Riding jeans in distressed black with built-in abrasion resistant fabric for 100% coverage, high-rated, thin armor in hips and knees, and the typical jean pockets and loops. Feminine straight or skinny leg cut for under boots.
- Black leather gauntlet gloves – all I want is protection, comfort and a perfect fit.
- Boots, red leather. Calf high with ankle protection, leather shifter protection pad, waterproof, a slight heel and comfortable enough to walk in all day.
- And a Helite airbag vest (Katie evidently never leaves home without it).
If any gear makers are listening, Katie said she also wouldn’t mind being a consultant.