We want to grow sourcing from India in sportswear: Harley-Davidson director

Karen Davidson, Great Grand Daughter of William Davidson, co-founder of Harley Davidson and creative director, Harley Davidson MotorClothes, in Kolkata. | Photo: Subrata Majumdar
Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of William A. Davidson, co-founder of the iconic Harley-Davison Motor Company, is now the creative director of Harley-Davidson’s General Merchandise Department. She tells Avishek Rakshit how this American company wants to grow its sourcing from India and boost the brand in this country. Edited Excerpts.

Q. Harley-Davison MotorClothes is pretty new in India. What is unique about this brand?

This is a lifestyle category and has a high level of expression which inspires the purchaser from the 18-35 year-old age bracket to know the aspirational side of adventure. May be they (buyers) want to be a part of the brand. We have a range of apparel available through dealerships but the apparel and accessories range in Harley-Davison MotorClothes stores is quite different from what is available with the dealers.

Q. So are you trying to create an aspiration for the Harley-Davidson brand with this apparel line?

Yes. We love India for the riding culture it has and people, especially in India, do know the brand. This brand is about one’s individuality – about freedom and expressing yourself in your individual style – which is so important.

Q. A lot of your apparels are made in China. Any plans to grow your Make in India initiative?

Photo: Subrata Majumder
We do a lot of production in India and I am actually proud of that. We are, in fact, doing production of the 1903 (collection) from India which is a nice range with special finishes. It’s not available here (in India) but in US and European markets.

But we definitely want to grow our sourcing from India and we are discussing that.  It’ll mainly be sportwear, which will comprise of good quality knitwear, shirts, jackets and others. In fact, the highest detailed product which this store (Harley-Davison MotorClothes  store in Kolkata) has, is made in India. The work, craftsmanship, and detailing in India is amazing and we would like to grow Indian sourcing as it offers good customisation, detailing as well as special finishes.

Q. How many stores do you plan to open this year?

We have four such stores and 27 dealerships across India. The Harley-Davison MotorClothes stores are in Siliguri, Imphal and Dimapur, and one now in Kolkata. I can’t say how many, but I think we have Varanasi and Goa as the next places of marking our presence. The stores will be driven by a franchisee model.

Q. Do you plan to set up some kind of studio or fashion institute in India which can design clothes for the company?

It’s an interesting idea but not yet. But we get a lot of people (from India) at our factories who tell us a lot about sewing techniques and things like that. So it’s kind of a partnership we have and we pay attention to something which they are innovating and is good for the brand. These partnerships are really important. 

Q. What is your opinion about the biker culture in India?

I haven’t spent much time in India to know that too well. I was there at the first ever H.O.G. Rally (Harley Owners Group Rally) in Goa and what I found after interacting with the riders is there is a lot of pride as well as enthusiasm.

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