“FOUR WHEELS MOVE THE BODY. TWO WHEELS MOVE THE SOUL”
"how do we make all day wearable and protective motorcycle clothing?"
In order to feel any sort of confidence in what you wear, this confidence must be founded on its reliability. In turn, the reliability has to be forged from the quality and engineering that goes into making it. This quality generally emanates from a vision and a passion for perfection and precision – to make the best even better.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Lelliot, the co-founder of Australian motorcycle inspired clothing label Saint, crossed paths with KTC.
Fuelled by a life long love for anything on two wheels, the avid motorbike enthusiast set about designing clothing that was engineered to slide, crash, breath (and be worn all day), on and off a bike.
“I was out riding with a few buddies including Keith Flint (from the Prodigy),” he recalls. “After the ride we were having a beer back at my place and we got chatting about different fabrics and motor protective clothing and layering. Keith commented on some merino arm warmers I was wearing, asking if they were Kevlar? The conversation helped forge a reason to set up Saint. It opened up a key question in my mind - how do we make all day wearable and protective motorcycle clothing?”
"Clothing to live your life in and to hit the road in"
It is this question that got Lelliot thinking about and designing new single-layer fabrics - fabrics that blend ballistic fibres with naturals such as merino wool, cotton and silk. “At first I was particularly interested in denim and base layers, which are key for anyone on two wheels. I wanted the collection to be inspired by the rich history of motorcycling, but enhanced by the evolution of technical fabrication. Clothing to live your life in and to hit the road in.”
His wish list was a long one. Practical clothing that’s meant to be worn. An unquenchable affinity for quality. Fabrication that’s on the cutting edge of production. Fashion forward clothing inspired by the history and craftsmanship of motorcycle clothing of the past. The ultimate protection if things go wrong, or as Lelliot describes it: “Clothing to save your butt if things go random”. Ambitious to say the least.
But it went further than that too. While many motorcycle apparel manufacturers simply adhere to European standards for things like wear, abrasion and impact protection, Saint’s ambition was to set a new standard in the category, making apparel that significantly outperforms your typical jeans and jacket combo, with the ultimate goal of a fully certified, track ready Saint Denim Race suit.
He says: “As a activity specific clothing designer I’m all about disrupting the status quo and making a tangible difference. This is everything Saint is about. No other clothing company had attempted to do what we want to achieve. But being first to market brings its own problems. You ask one question about a product to introduce a new idea, which often leads to other questions that need solving.”
"Fashion forward clothing inspired by the history and craftsmanship of motorcycle clothing of the past"
It was this enquiring approach to problem solving that led them to KTC’s doors.
“We had heard about KTC through people we know through other highly respected brands, who couldn't talk highly enough about them. We went to them with a problem – the fact that the denim we were using kept blowing out at the seams because it was so strong and rigid. Most garments look for the weakest parts, that’s why they would blow out at the seams. Naturally KTC stepped up to the challenge. They said: “This is a new challenge. We get what you are doing and we are happy to be part of your story”
“They came up with five different approaches to seam construction as well as a range of options for testing the process. We ended up going for a triple stitch and welded seam, which managed to hold the seam together as we wanted.”
While KTC does not work on Saint’s denim output (although it has been instrumental in solving its broken seam and crotch blowout issues) its technology, craftsmanship and attention to detail are very much evident through its Kevlar and Baselayer ranges.
The Baselayer range comprises of 220gsm leggings, arm gauntlets, and long sleeved tops that incorporate the warmth of fine spun Australian Merino wool with the tough impact abrasion resistance and durability of Black Kevlar® Para Aramid double spun fibres. Constructed with a ladder proof knit, these gauntlets feel great on the skin and have a touch of elastane for the right stretch.
"It’s all about the question and how we solve it together"
Saint’s Kevlar range includes the incredibly tough wearing Kevlar® & Cordura® Jacket, with a high abrasion and cut resistant outer and laminated white Cordura® lining. Kind of like an armour plated second skin, the Jacket is gusseted in the arms allowing for easy movement, all the seams are triple stitched and we use quality YKK zips. Reflective triangles on the back light up at night. Meanwhile, designed to be pushed harder, a lot harder than any other motorcycle trousers out there, Saint’s 100% Kevlar® Drill demonstrates 360° tensile strength, slash, tear and heat resilience. It’s 5 times stronger than steel, lightweight, all-day-wearable with significant burst, impact and slide abrasion resistant properties.
Mike Lelliot is keen to point out that all the products he creates with KTC is very much a partnership: “We are very aware of the industry we are working in and the needs of our customer. KTC don’t have the same level of insights as we do about them. But we can ask them the right questions to get the solutions that fulfil those needs. Everything they do, they do it well, better than well. With KTC it is very much a partnership. It’s all about the question and how we solve it together.”
“We go to KTC because they are risk averse. They will do everything to get a product right. It might take longer than with many factories but the results will speak for themselves. Not only are they the best in China, but probably anywhere. We should not be thinking about Made in China anymore, or made in anywhere. It should be about where to get the best. That’s why we go to KTC for the product areas we partner with them on, there is nobody better out there. Also with other factories we have to be much more vigilant with the production. Not with KTC, we have the confidence that they will get to a place we are all more than satisfied with.”