Women’s Motorcycle Apparel Gets a Major Makeover
October 31, 2018
BY Laura Rote
Anya Violet has been riding motorcycles since she was 7 years old. Now the cofounder, designer, and brand director for Atwyld—a women’s motorcycle gear and apparel brand unlike anything on the market—she knows a little something about taking risks. She’s also the cofounder of Babes Ride Out, a women-only riding and camping series of events. Anya and cofounders Jaime Dempsey and Corinne Lan Franco know what women want and need out on the open road. The trio met, naturally, riding motorcycles and bonded over the love of the ride as well as fashion and business. They’ve also each worked for action sports companies like RVCA and Volcom over the years and have taken that knowledge to start their own brand.
Welcome to the Nice Girls Club. It’s the unofficial nickname of the growing community of riders in Atwyld gear, and it’s a moniker that fits as Anya goes above and beyond to make those around her feel welcome. In keeping with Babes Ride Out, she’s also seriously committed to making sure the women around her are having a killer time, with frequent rides and after-parties.
While nearly 25% of American motorcycle riders are women, Anya says a void remains when it comes to women’s apparel and gear. “Atwyld was born because there was such an obvious gap in the market for this growing category. It was clear that there was a white space to be filled.”
“Working in the action sports industry taught all of us a lot about the importance of authenticity and originality.”
It’s hard not to believe in the brand when you see it—high-quality apparel that’s made in LA, looks good on and off the bike, and offers added impact protection with features like removable hip and knee armor. Gone are the days of the bulky, shapeless leather jackets. Atwyld puts a modern spin on the bomber and more—from the Navigate Moto Fleece pullover with fine diamond stitch quilting, brushed back fleece, and soft cowhide leather to the Shred Moto Jeans in a classic high-waist skinny fit. It’s apparel that doesn’t just look slick; it adds a layer of safety between you and the road as it’s lined with DuPont Kevlar at impact zones. “I started sewing in high school and eventually went to design school at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in SF. It wasn’t until we started Atwyld that I was able to merge my passions for motorcycles and design,” Anya says.
The name Atwyld represents that moment between fear and thrill—when you’re on the edge of your seat and not sure what’s next. Hopping on a motorcycle is about chasing that moment as much as possible.
Atwyld recently launched a women’s gear collection with Shift MX, a go-to motocross gear brand. “The partnership with Shift was an awesome opportunity to create something unique for the off-road category,” Anya says. “We feel so fortunate to be able to create product with such a powerhouse brand.”
Atwyld began as a side project, with Anya, Jaime, and Corinne working other jobs, and it continues that way today. “While our attention and passion is 100% there, it’s important to us to get the company to a certain place before bringing on ourselves as paid employees,” Anya says. “The company was built thanks to investment from ourselves and a small group that believes in the potential of the brand.”
As with any new venture, there were bumps along the way, but Anya sees challenges as opportunities to learn. For example, early production quality issues taught the team a lot about manufacturing in LA. “It’s really hard to find reliable manufacturers who take pride in their work,” she says. “We have since streamlined our vendor base and weeded out some of the unreliable resources.”
Anya says she’ll feel she’s succeeded when every female rider has a choice for beautiful, protective riding apparel. “At the moment we have very little competition in this space and the demographic of female riders is growing rapidly,” she says. “By focusing solely on the female side, Atwyld has begun to stake its claim as the go-to brand for women who ride.”