When one of our product designers got hooked on the Japanese motorcycle scene, he decided to build a small glove collection around that unique culture.
A couple of years back, Chad Dobson, an apparel designer at Flylow since 2019, wanted to buy himself a motorcycle. His uncle had had a Harley-Davidson when he was growing up, and he’d always thought that sounded cool. So, Dobson saved up some money and got himself a Harley-Davidson Sportster—one of Harley’s less expensive bikes. Within a year or so, though, Dobson, who lives in Reno, Nevada, was ready for an upgrade and he traded the Sportster in for a Harley-Davidson Dyna, in sleek all black.
We’re telling you this not because you care what our product designers tinker with in their off-duty hours. But because Dobson’s Harley obsession soon found its way into some Flylow products, as well. Dobson loved customizing his bikes, adding features that would be entirely his own. Which is how he ended up down an Internet rabbit hole that landed him deep in the online culture of the Japanese motorcycle scene.
“I was on Instagram, trying to find inspiration,” Dobson says. “I started seeing these guys from Japan who were modifying Harleys. It was their own unique style. I was surprised to see that people in Japan cared that much about Harley-Davidson.”
Dobson and his brother started modifying their Harleys, and in the process, fell in love with Japanese moto style. “I wanted to build my Sportster as an homage to the Japanese Harley bike,” he says. “The style is sort of 1950s Harley-Davidson. They wear ’50s clothing. Some of it looks like prison uniforms, with black and white stripes. And they then wear these old-school leather gloves, with cream-colored ’50s motorcycle leather. I liked that style.”
He tried to buy a pair of off-white gloves like that for himself, but all he could find was a utilitarian white-leather gardening glove. Not exactly what he was looking for. Meanwhile, Dobson was at work in the Flylow design office in Truckee, California, and they were starting to design gloves for the winter 2021-2022 line, which is out now.
“I was in a design meeting and I brought up these Japanese moto gloves I’d seen,” Dobson says. “The idea seemed welcomed right away. Everyone was stoked on the kookiness. That’s kind of how these interesting projects come about sometimes. Someone pitches something weird. Someone else says, ‘That sounds kind of cool. Let’s do it.’”
Flylow co-founder Dan Abrams and senior director of product Chris Blum said yes to the idea, and Dobson’s vision was off and running. They contacted a Flylow importer in Japan and asked for some help coming up with the right Japanese characters. They found a cream-colored leather to use in the gloves. And that’s how the Ridge Glove JM and Oven Mitt JM were born. (JM, of course, is a nod to Japanese moto.) A small flag says “snowcat” in Japanese in gold and red embroidery. The top of the hand is covered in a durable suede.
“It’s the exact same leather that we use in all of our gloves but with a suede top. It’s got the same durability and waterproofing as our traditional ski gloves, just with a different look,” Dobson says. “Our golden-brown leather is our go-to glove, with more of that construction glove look. This is more on the fashion side, but it still has all the utility of being a super functional glove. This is the glove for someone who will appreciate the uniqueness of it.”