Aerostich founder Andy Goldfine stepped out to the curb at 655 Bryant Street in San Francisco and surveyed the lineup of two dozen motorcycles parked at the curb. I doubt he was thinking, “We’re not in Duluth anymore,” but he seemed satisfied at the turnout for only the first hour of this great experiment. For the first time, Goldfine and his crew have brought a little piece of the Aerostich factory to a borrowed space in this South of Market neighborhood.
“We have terrific product,” he told me the night before at a low-key gathering of press and friends, “but distribution is always a challenge. The world has changed. Most motorcycle stores have a wide range of products but the selections aren’t very deep. There are dozens of designs but only a few choices of size and color. We’re different. We have fewer products but we’re a mile deep.”
That assessment only starts at the off-the-rack options. When you add the myriad custom-fit options, the permutations of the Roadcrafter and other suits multiply exponentially. And that clearly points to the need for Aerostich to get out of its Minnesota HQ and bring product to the people. A well-organized website and thoroughly entertaining catalog get you only so far—we’re tactile creatures, so the touch-and-feel experience is important.
While Aerostich will continue to swap out garments (and ship them free by ground service) until you’re happy with sizing and features, this is a far less efficient process than trying on a selection and determining in 10 minutes if you’re an off-the-rack type or not.
“This [retail store] is something we’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Goldfine said. “It took the right people [in the company] and a willingness to take a risk. But I think it’s an important part of telling our story.”
Plus it’s a great chance to look at new and familiar products in the flesh, try on suits, and work directly with Aerostich experts for custom-fit apparel. It’s easy to dismiss the Roadcrafter has having changed little in the 30 years since Andy started. But the current product is, actually, quite a bit evolved. There are new liners, new fit options, tweaked colors (and supposedly much more colorfast reds and blues), and some incredibly clever touches like a new passthrough aperture for electric-vest cords. (A patch of vinyl has been added inside the slot behind the left pantleg pocket. The inside of the cord comes out right where the cord meets the electric vest, while the slot can easily hold the coiled cord.)
I assumed my circa-2005 Roadcrafter was nearly state of the art. Turns out, the only advantage it carries is, um, patina.
Judging by the number of Roadcrafters and Darien jackets walking into the store, there could have been a bit of preaching to the choir. But it also seemed like many were there to check out custom sizing. The company wisely brought a Triumph Bonneville in so customers could see how the apparel fits in a standard riding position. But if you ride in, it’s possible to have one of Aerostich’s fit experts follow you outside and fit you right on your own bike. Custom gear ordered at the pop-up event is still built in Duluth.
The San Francisco store will be open through March 24, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 655 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA.
For more information, buzz over to the Aerostich website.