Dealers in Northern California may know something you don't. Through the efforts of local distributor Helimot, they have had a firm grip on the Held glove line, while the rest of the country has been letting glove sales opportunities slip through their fingers. The Held glove collection is the best-selling brand in Germany, a market where sportbikes and top-quality protective gear is taken very seriously. Now comes news that they are looking to break out of the regional market by teaming up with top U.S. apparel supplier Intersport Fashions West for distribution to dealers nationwide.
Always a closely held company, Held probably isn't a household name to most U.S. motorcycle enthusiasts... yet. "But we'll fix that," laughs IFW product development manager Paul Golde. The big difference between a Held glove and everything else on the market is the Kangaroo hide construction. "If you must know, Held uses the hides from macropus giganteus, a giant Australian kangaroo that because of uncontrolled breeding is considered a pest down under," says Golde. "The 'roo leather is much more abrasion resistant than cowhide, yet it has an incredibly soft finish so you get better grip and more sensitivity for the controls." In addition to 'roo leather, much of the line is made out of Pittard's hair sheep "Armor Tan" leather, which is also more abrasion resistant than normal leather because it has microscopic bits of ceramic embedded into it during the tanning process.
Take top quality materials like the Kangaroo hide, Keprotec, Kevlar and Gore-Tex and combine them with old-world German craftsmanship, and you get a superior glove, claims Golde. Bruno Held founded the company in 1923 to create mountaineering gloves. Then, working with German GP racing legend Tony Mang, the company entered the motorcycle market in 1983, so Held certainly has a handle on glove development and design, but IFW believes they can help with the U.S. marketing.
"I was wearing Held gloves even before we investigated the possibility of working with them," says Golde. Having just ridden the Rendezvous Endurance Rally from Puerto Penasco, Mexico, to Glenallen, Alaska, a distance of 5,689 miles in seven days to raise money for Rotary International Polio Plus, Golde also believes the Held gloves will hold up to the specialized needs of touring riders as well as pro roadracers. "The craftsmanship is immaculate... There are no seams in the contact points, and the tanning process ensures that the gloves are colorfast and resistant to moisture and sweat."
So what's in it for your dealership? "In addition to offering the best glove in the market, most Held products will be offered to dealers with a solid 45% margin," says Golde. Note he says "products." In addition to the gloves, IFW will be the exclusive North American importer for Held tank bags and luggage. "The gloves are great, but let me tell you about the bags..." Golde gets all worked up and starts hopping around again. If you're looking for a decent margin, top quality, and the distribution, sales and marketing experience offered by IFW, it is probably better to get the story straight from them. Both the gloves and luggage lines launch August 1. - Robin Hartfiel