98 months ago

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Making a Motorcycle Brand: The Siima MotoWear Story

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Siima MotoWear: Touring jacket and gloves.

Siima MotoWear: Touring jacket and gloves.

Everyone is familiar with the big motorcycle apparel brands like Dainese, REV'IT, Alpinestars and Joe Rocket. But if you delve into the history of these well-known designers you will often find they were started by young entrepreneurs with a passion and a vision for how to do things differently. For example Lino Dainese was only 20 years old in 1968 when he rode his Vespa from Italy to England and became obsessed with the idea of making gear based the Ton Up Café racers of the day. Giorgos Evripidou is no different. He started Siima MotoWear because he had a stroke of very bad luck that opened his eyes to an opportunity. Then with pure hutzpah, passion and initiative he pursued it.

Evripidou and his company are based on the small divided Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, just 70 kms south of Turkey and about 100 kms west of Syria and Lebanon. It might seem improbable that you could launch an international brand from there, but Evripdou has for almost five years been thinking big and building his knowledge, experience and partnerships. Every year he has made improvements to his lineup and increased the reach of his sales.

I first met Evripidou a few months ago over Skype and he agreed to send me his latest jacket -- the Siima SV3 Leo -- to review. The jacket turned out to be very well designed and good value for money so I decided to ask him a few questions.

Giorgos Evripidou, founder of Siima MotoWear

Giorgos Evripidou, founder of Siima MotoWear

ESR: What inspired you to start Siima MotoWear?

Evripidou: I had always wanted to buy gear but I couldn’t afford it. I was a student and 21 and like all students I was quite tight on cash. I would have sacrificed a good amount of money to get an average jacket but even that was expensive for me. I only had a helmet which eventually saved my life.

Siima MotoWear was a project I started out of the need to protect myself after a bad accident I had. My lane was cut and I had a head on collision with a driver. I was young at the time and inexperienced. My 125cc motorcycle was totalled. The mechanic at the garage showed me 3 other totalled bikes crashed in the same way as mine. Two of the riders died and one was in the intensive care unit. He called me a “lucky bastard”.

I was indeed pretty lucky as I didn’t have any major injuries. However, I suffered from muscle shock and injuries mainly on the legs and back – and a massive 5cm long and 1cm deep scratch on my helmet! I could not move for about 10 days. It took me a month before I could freely stand and walk without support. Unfortunately, the consequences of that accident are still affecting my health today with knee pains and tendon problems, especially when season is changing from summer to winter and vice versa. It was definitely a life changing experience that forever changed my perception towards riding motorcycles.

A few years later, in 2012, and after I have seen many friends and friends of friends fatally injured, I have realized that bikers in Cyprus don’t wear gear because they just can’t afford it. And that was tragic. I realized that I could have avoided all the injuries if I was geared.

So I decided to create my own since it was cheaper than buying a new branded one. I had had no design knowledge but that didn’t stop me. After all, I didn’t have something to lose. I did a lot of market research, both in Cyprus and abroad. I searched for suppliers and asked to send samples. I learnt how to use design programs and based on those samples I have created the first jacket. As soon as I made the first sample I sold it. It was a plain black very basic jacket that anyone could do. Nothing great really.

Then I decided to import that model in larger quantities. And the business took from there…

Siima Condor SV2: one the earlier designs

Siima Condor SV2: one the earlier designs

ESR: What was the first jacket you produced and what was the process of taking it from idea to market?

Evripidou: The first jacket was a plain black jacket with CE approved protectors on elbows, shoulders and back. It was called Siima Condor R Pro. The design started in early 2012. The jacket was meant to be value-for-money jacket aimed at those who could not afford an expensive one.

One year later, in early 2013, after a lots of samples and exchanges with manufacturers the Siima Condor R Pro was finalized.

The jacket was marketed mainly through online free listing websites who generate a lot of traffic. The main idea for doing this was to spread the word locally. It was an easy and cost effective way to market the product. I was able to get the customer database from there. At a later stage I have worked on the social media presence and managed to further expand the clientele to an international level. I am still working on it. Its hard work that takes a lot of time.

At the same time, it was passed to experienced riders and motorcycle magazine specialists abroad in order to provide feedback for improvements.

A website was still under construction and was finished by the end of 2013.

Did you have a mentor to help you navigate design or business challenges? If so, please tell us about him or her.

No. Apart from a friend who was helping me with the website and marketing and social media presence. I will be forever grateful to him. I didn’t have anyone else. I can’t hide my disappointment when I tried to approach local motorcycle stores and all I found was rejection. Cyprus is a small market and it would be a good start if they could help.

Instead, I focused on the international market despite the disagreements I had with my friend on the subject.

The Siima SV3 Leo: the latest innovation

The Siima SV3 Leo: the latest innovation

ESR: What is the biggest challenge you face as an independent label in the motorcycle apparel industry?

Evripidou: Being trusted as a new brand in the market was, and still is, the biggest challenge. I am constantly trying to convince potential partners about the quality of Siima MotoWear products. It is definitely the hardest part and very few “brave” ones take the “risk” to collaborate.

Siima MotoWear competes in an endless chaotic and anarchic sea of different motorcycle apparel brands many of which are not good and others that are excellent. It is really hard to stand out as a quality brand of motorcycle gear but this is challenge we accepted from day of the creation of Siima MotoWear.

Many big brands have established themselves as leading motorcycle apparel brands internationally. They do this by spending millions in sponsorships trying to convince riders around the globe that they are the best while in reality only their premium products actually worth the money and they are very costly.

The reason for the rising costs of the apparel industry is partly because of the millions spent in sponsorships.

ESR: What is special about your latest jacket the SV3 Leo? What makes it stand out from the other jackets on the market?

Evripidou: Siima SV3 Leo is my baby. It is the latest of the SV versions. The first one was Siima Condor R Pro, the the Siima Condor SV2 and now Siima SV3 Leo. Siima SV3 Leo was designed with 4 pillars in mind:

  1. Accident prevention. We consider the prevention of an accident to be equally important as the protection during an accident. That’s why we added a removable HI-VIZ layer that increases the conspicuity of the motorcycle and the rider, hence radically reducing the likelihood of an accident occurring in the first place. According to studies, riders’ safety significantly increases with a HI-VIZ layer in combination with headlamps-on in daylight. To further reduce the likelihood of an accident, the addition of Night Reflective material at strategic positions (and on the HI-VIZ layer) on Siima SV3 Leo enhances the utmost safety of the rider.

  2. Protection. Siima SV3 Leo comes with quality protectors on the elbows, shoulders and back to provide the ultimate protection in case of an accident. The protectors are CE Approved and meet the safety European Union standards EN1621-1 and EN1621-2.

  3. Style. Siima SV3 Leo is designed in such a way as to cover the existing gap between elegance and safety. Siima SV3 Leo overlaps the gap by offering elegant design without making any compromises on the safety of the rider. On the contrary, it increases it.

  4. Comfort. SiimaSV3 Leo offers the comfort you need in either rain or cold or heat conditions. With the removable Reissa Waterproof Lining, Siima SV3 Leo is absolutely 100% waterproof. At the same time the Removable Thermal Lining protects the rider from cold. Finally, Siima SV3 Leo keeps you cool with adjustable front and back vents. Siima SV3 Leo is tested in temperatures from -5 to 35 Degrees Celsius (air temperature as described by meteorological institutes. Have in mind that while riding, temperatures tent to get lower up approximately 30 degrees Celsius and higher more than 30) with excellent results and feedback from the riders.

ESR: So what comes next?

We are working a new all-season full system: pants, jacket, gloves. We will start from the jacket and then move to gloves and pants. We are hoping to receive the first samples in the next couple of months so we can start testing and improving them. We hope to get it finished by the end of 2016.

The jacket will be highly versatile with many removable layers. There will be some surprises on the design, functionality and comfort. That’s all I can say. Soon there will be a press release about it with more details in our blog at www.siimajackets.com.

For a limited time Siima MotoWear is offering a 20% discount on the Siima SV3 Leo to EatSleepRIDE readers. Use this coupon code on their website: ESR4SV3

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