This month we sit down with Vaktare owner/designer Estefan Duarte, whose collection of city-inspired jackets are now available in NYC through Fillipachi in Manhattan. Combining style and safety, the jackets offer urban riders and commuters a new option for protection, on and off the bike. Retailing for $400 to $850, depending on the style and materials, Vaktare jackets can accommodate back, shoulder, and elbow armor, and come in both leather and wool variations. You might have seen some of the Los Angeles-based company's offerings last December at the IMS show in the Javitz Center as part of the SHIFT display.
1) Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Estefan. Firstly, where does the company name originate from and does it have any specific meaning?
'Väktare' is a Swedish word representing a watchman or guardian. We think this fits well with our brand of protective gear, meant to guard you from broken bones and road rash.
2) Your logo has a very ‘airborne/moto’ feel to it … who designed it and what do you hope to convey with the image?
Yeah it's got a very retro feel. A graphic design artist friend of ours, Imran, designed our logo for us. It's meant to invoke a spirit of adventure ... we use a lot of inspiration from WWI and WWII fighter pilots -- they had a lot of style back then. Not to mention their jackets had to withstand being airborne (as well as) the most rugged terrain once they landed.
3) So, your fashionable coat line in now available in New York through Filipacchi, debuting in the store for Fall. Who are your jackets designed for and what was the philosophy/concept behind the brand and its products?
Our line is designed for the modern rider who wants the best of both worlds in fashion and function. Our philosophy is to keep our jackets materially sourced and made in the USA. In addition to keeping much needed skilled labor jobs stateside, it allows us complete control of the quality maintained in our products. The concept was to merge style and fashion with rugged wear that will stand the test of time and offer protection for motorcycle/scooter riders.
4) Boutique motorcycle jacket companies in recent years have proliferated … where do you see Vaktare fitting into the mix?
Vaktare is sort of a different breed than what is readily available today. We have a lot of products that are very unique and found virtually nowhere else. While many other motowear brands stick to the same inspiration for their jackets, we experiment to create motorcycle jackets that don't necessarily look like motorcycle jackets. We're taking the boutique moto scene in a whole new direction that isn't really being done right now. Take for example our Draugr motorcycle pea coat and bomber moto-jacket -- these are basically the only fully protective motorcycle jackets that integrate wool. It's not just a fashion piece. It's form and function. We aim not to be the next best boutique. We want to be motorcycle high-fashion. We strive to be the Versace, Zegna, or Armani of motorcycle wear.
-- Estefan Duarte, Vaktare owner/designer
5) You’re based out of California … LA? Where are your jackets made?
Everything is made in Los Angeles, CA. Hard to believe, I know, since so many companies are going overseas. We source a lot of our waxed cotton from New York and our leather comes from LA.
6) Who is involved with the company and what are your backgrounds? Do you all ride and if so what bikes?
I'm the owner and designer. Our media department consists of a good friend Cody Coker and my brother Alexander Duarte. They handle all of our video and lifestyle photography development. I personally ride a Aprilia SL 750 Shiver, Alexander can be seen cruising on a Kawasaki, and Cody was a Triumph rider back when he lived in Costa Rica. He's in between bikes now, strongly eyeing the Triumph Bonneville T-120 ... although, who isn't?
7) As a small boutique company, you’ve said you do manufacturing in small batches to maintain quality, and when stock runs out you make jackets to order. What capacity do you have for making personally fitted jackets?
Yes, we regularly do run out of stock due to our small batch mentality. The smaller the production, the more control we have that every single piece is cut, sewn, and finished flawlessly. When we run out of a certain size or style we simply notify the customer and make them made-to-order.
Personally, I love working with customers to make a custom-fitted jacket. It's a great feeling knowing we can create something that is 100-per-cent unique to that individual, fits perfectly, and will last a lifetime. A lot of our customers have custom bikes. We think when your bike is unique to you then your gear should match the individualism of your ride.
8) Your website mentions very specifically the materials you use allowing for a combination of protection, breathability and fashionable looks. Tell us a bit about the tech behind this material and what is does for the user.
For leathers we use only full-grain american cowhide. You can read about it on our blog article The right leather for motorcycle jackets. It's essentially the highest echelon when it comes to the look, feel, and strength of the leather.
For our wool collection we layer in 1000D Cordura through the entire jacket to aid in abrasion resistance. Same goes for our waxed gear. 1000D Cordura has been used in motorcycle gear for a long time and is currently the highest approved textile fabric when making racing suits.
We also use a lot of Schoeller Dynatec, a fabric that's been crash tested at 55 MPH and features Nanotech self-cleaning technology while being Bluesign-approved for an eco-friendly, sustainable jacket.
We purposefully do a lot of things that are unheard of in the moto industry ... sustainable motorcycle gear? A rare find. Our aim is to stand out amongst the myriad of other motorcycle gear offerings.
the draugr motorcycle coat | vaktare
-- Estefan Duarte, Vaktare owner/designer
9) You have a wide variety of designs available on the site ... will all be sold in New York? And what was the inspiration behind some of the designs ... such as The Draugr, the Greyfell, the Ranger, The Pilot and the Bomber.
Filipacchi, as of now, has most but not all of our styles. Although, look out for more additions in the future.
The Draugr was created to be the first-ever, Naval-style pea coat designed for motorcycle use. We wanted to take the classic, New York-style wool pea coat and make it something you can ride with while looking like a true gent.
The Pilot Racer jacket pays homage to the old WWI fighter pilot jackets, while adding in some of the cafe racer styling we all know and love. It's kind of a fusion between the two worlds, aviation and motorbikes, but we think it's a pretty fly look.
The bomber was actually the one to start it all off … our first original design, built for form and function, and designed to attract attention.
10) The brand seems ideal for the urban commuter ... a jacket you can ride with and then walk straight into an office wearing. Where do you see the brand going in the future?
We're all about quality that lasts with the looks to back it up. So definitely, in the future we will be adding styles and keeping up with all the latest fashion while making everything we craft 'biker-oriented'. We are for the office commuters, nightlight enthusiasts, canyon riders, weekend rider, Vespa riders, everyday riders, and everyone in between.
You can find out more about Vaktare online at vaktaremg.com ... or follow the brand's Instagram: . You can see and purchase Vaktare jackets in NYC at: Filipacchi | 23 Prince St, New York, NY 10012.
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