WORDS: Yahdon Israel
PHOTOGRAPHY and COMMENTARY: Christian Torres
Earlier this year, MakersFinders dispatched photographer Christian Torres to Portland, Oregon to attend the One Moto Show. An annual gathering which celebrates everything there is to love about motorcycle culture. What began eight years ago in an old abandoned warehouse has, and is, steadily evolving into a vibrant community of people who appreciate not just the nuts and bolts of motorcycles but its rich culture.
Founded by Thor Drake of See See Motorcycles, The One Moto Show contributes to this culture by hosting the annual meeting FREE of charge to both exhibitors and attendees. This doesn't mean the show didn't cost anything. With the donation of its time and resources, the One Moto Show and the people who support it highlight the price we are willing to pay to foster and preserve community.
For this reason, Christian could not overstate just "how damn friendly everyone was." He was encouraged to ask questions about the culture he had just come in contact with. Because next to time and money, one of the most valuable commodities we have, as people, is information; and here Christian, with the help of the Makers he met at the One Moto Show, shares the wealth.
Christian: Super-friendly and high energy team of Jaime Dempsey, Anya Violet, and Corinne Lan Franco. LA industry-fashion women who saw a void in high end, chic designed motowear for women. The company is quite young, I don’t think even a year old, but was being extremely well-received at the show and for good reason. I personally loved their “cosmic” take on riding, likening the experience to being on a rocket ship, the slick branding video on their site very much reinforces this perspective. Some of my favorite people at the show.
We're a women's motorcycle apparel brand that makes technical riding gear for women. We also accompany our apparel brand with a lifestyle line. We make everything in downtown Los Angeles. We have a lot of craftsmen there who make great leather jackets and t-shirts. We have an urban shirt, leather pants, some denim, Kevlar lining, all of those fun technical materials.
On why they make:
As women who ride motorcycles, we noticed that there was a huge void in the market as far as fashionable clothes that also had protective qualities that women would want to wear that fit well. We were all in the apparel business before (mostly in the surf skate business). We were on a motorcycle ride riding through Angeles Crest in California and we stopped for lunch. We were like, "None of us are wearing anything that would help us if we went down because we're sacrificing the function for fashion."
That's when we decided we were going to try and create clothes that we would want to wear but would also be functional for riding. Since we launched in July of last year, we've had an incredible response from women.
On their aesthetic:
We wanted to be a modern motorcycle brand. Not something that was just about riding bikes and partying. We wanted to go beyond that and wanted to transcend into the realm of space exploration. Just give a little bit of a different twist on the motorcycle scene. It's like riding a rocket ship, you know?
Christian: Paulo grew up in Mexico and played in a touring rock band. He wound up in the LA fashion industry without really have any technical or formal education but learned everything working his way up the industry ladder. Very calm and chill demeanor, extremely friendly and just a really mellow guy and made some of the most premium leather moto goods at the show.
My name is Paulo Rosas, and I'm a motorcycle gear designer behind Pagnol. I'm originally from Mexico, but I've lived in the States over for 26 years or so. I was a musician, then switched careers to the fashion industry in Los Angeles for a while. I have always had, even before the music, a passion for motorcycles. Later on in my fashion career I decided to fuse my passions of design and motorcycles and created a motorcycle gear brand for the new wave custom-made scene that I saw happening.
On why he makes:
As a designer you always have the goal of creating a timeless signature style. I wanted to create a brand that would resonate with someone in the same way a well-known song would. Just by looking at it, you would know who made it.
On the Moto Show:
The One Moto Show is a show about motorcycle builders. Over these two years quite a few of the builders have become part of the culture of the brand, and representing the brand. It just goes hand in hand with what I do.
Christian: Jerrod is from a very loyal and community driven dude, as he seemed really proud of their barber/retail shop in OKC and the history behind what they were doing and the scene they had curated for themselves. Had a crew of guys at their booth where they were lining and trimming dudes up in in a classic barbershop chair. Handsome with a slight sense of rust around his edges, like maybe he’d seen some unspeakable shit at some point in his life but fortunately came out the other end a stronger and better man.
On Weldon Jack:
Jerrod: I'm based out of Oklahoma City with a shop called Weldon Jack. It's a sixth year barbershop and a retail space in an old service station in Oklahoma. This guy built it in the sixties and he worked there until about five years ago. Then we took it over and opened the shop up. So secondary to the barbering service, the biggest thing that we do is we make all our own grooming products. All natural ingredients.
We make about 25 different products. Everything from beard to body products. From beginning to end—label, bottling, packaging, ingredients, they're all raw ingredients.
On why he makes:
The shop is named after my grandfather and it's kind of cool to be like your grandpa. People can make fun of that but the reality for is my grandpa was Superman, to me. He was the coolest guy ever and people knew him in public, he was always really friendly and easygoing.
Barber shops should be that. You should be able to walk in and feel a part of community. He was a barber and a mechanic in the Air Force. He was stationed in Iceland in late 1940s. He would give haircuts where they were stationed and made the guys feel good about themselves.
We spend a lot of time and care on what we make. We do it one at a time, the good old fashioned way. This approach allows us to it provides jobs for people that are in our community. So our barbers, they're very well paid, you know.
On the One Moto Show:
We've come here as spectators in the past and it fits really well with what we do. We're half provisions revolving around kind of old motorcycle vibes and half barbershop and what a better place to come hang out and be a part of a community.
Christian: Very sweet and probably one of the busier or at least most well-known vendors at the show. I believe she comes from a family of seamsters. Don’t really have much to say about her other than she was very friendly and just seemed like a really genuine hard-working gal with some really superior craftsmanship on her seats.
On New Church Moto:
I'm Ginger McCabe, owner/operator of New Church Moto. I make custom motorcycle seats and accessories. I started my business in Portland about seven years ago. I decided to move down to Bandon, Oregon which is way down south on the coast. City life was getting to me a little bit too much and I was to a point where I could work from home so it didn't matter where I was.
Nine years ago I moved [back] to Portland from the Bay Area and I started working at Langlitz Leathers making motorcycle jackets and pants and stuff. A lot bunch of my friends rode [motorcycles]. I was always on the scene and one of my friends approached me and asked me if I could make a seat. "Sure, I'll try," I told them. Over the next six months everyone just started asking me to make seats for them and I pretty much just taught myself out in my garage while I was working at Langlitz still. As soon as I began making enough money to feed myself, I quit Langlitz. I bought my own machine and started doing it full-time.
On why she makes:
It just really resonated with me because I have a fashion background. I'm able to be creative. Motorcycles are sort of like clothes, because I get to dress the seat. It's also really interesting because a lot of times, the seat is the last thing that goes on a bike but it's sometimes the first thing people see.
On the One Moto Show:
I have been involved with The One Moto Show since the second year. Itor, the founder of The One Moto and CC, gave me my first shop space when I first started. That was also the first year of The One Moto Show.
This is the first year of him having an actual vendor section. There would be sponsored little vendor things set up before but this year I was like, "I need to get out there and bring some of my seats for people to see." It was a good idea.
On where New Church Moto can be found:
Christian: Could probably build anything out of anything - a self-proclaimed “garage-sale” guy. Probably grew up watching McGuyver or idolizing Doc from Back To The Future. Hand-fabricates parts for bikes and amplifiers and at one point was a software tester for Microsoft.
On Hovercraft Amps:
Nial: Hovercraft began pretty organically. I was a touring musician for probably about 20 years. I got into electronics in high school; followed it up through a tech career for a while. I started building guitar cables cause nobody made a good guitar cable, and that evolved into researching more about amplifiers.
I ended up working for an amp company in LA doing assembly work and some customization. Next thing I know I actually had come up with something cool. The amps are the main thing I do, and it kinda bleeds over into everything else.
On why he makes:
Nial: I make what I make because no one else does. I wanted to make amps that sounded the way I felt they needed to. Most of the amps that are out there are black or white. There's no gray area.
I wanted to try and not only push sound in different directions, but try different things that other people hadn't. Combine and separate sonic components so that they can have a unique sound. I wanted to basically evolve guitar tone beyond the standard iconographic pieces that are already there.
On One Moto Show:
I love motorcycles. I love music. Portland's pretty small, and there's a lot of cross-pollination between musicians that love motorcycles. A lot of the bands that have played here, at the One Moto Show actually use my amps.
Like I said, there's so much cross-pollination between motorcycles and music and rock and roll. It's got a history dating all the way back to the very, very beginning of custom motorcycles, so we're kind of neck in neck.
Christian: Super bright and articulate. Definitely one of the brainier guys there. Pretty extensive history working with North Face as well as creating his own design agency in Syren Industrial. Kevin clearly sees the bigger picture when it comes to running his own show, not just in terms designing top shelf products but understanding branding and marketing, distribution, sales strategy, research and development.
I'm Kevin Murray. The founder and CEO of Velomacchi and we're based in Hood River, Oregon. An industrial designer, originally by trade. I was the design director at the North Face for a number of years. So I have my own independent design firm, research, design and development, Syren Industrial. We build high speed carry gear and gloves. Just bringing back really high end materials and processes. You know, and the trims and everything to go along with it.
We saw this kind a hole at the top end of the marketplace. So we created a real technical riding platform that applies to people's every day lives. Not only is what we make technical in a riding nature for off road weekend stuff, but it handles your day to day—commuting, adventure, work and play.
On why they make:
In Moto, you know, if you look at the structure of companies now, with private equity firms coming in and buying up a lot of the brands, they pull a lot of the juice out of the ability to really create and innovate. So you're basically left with more of a commodity approach to product. As a result, everyone's fighting for the lower price point, and no one's really advocating for bringing really innovative and high quality gear to market. And that's what we're doing.
On the One Moto Show:
Thor and their group at See See have really done an excellent job of giving a place for all these like minded people. There is no one type of bike. No one type of rider. It's just an awesome place to see the inspiration of what's coming and how people interface with all the different cultures that's here.
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