For modestly sized businesses, focusing on a niche can be a great way to build a brand. By specializing in high-quality gloves, Austria-based Racer has developed a cult US following that is spreading from California’s Bay Area across North America. The female-specific Women’s High Racer track glove ($220) caters to a niche within a niche, offering features like a kangaroo-leather palm, carbon-fiber protection, and adjoined ring finger and pinky to a particular but appreciative audience that includes Photo Editor—and novice racer—Julia LaPalme.
Motorcycle manufacturers know that racing drives innovation, and that axiom also applies to sponsors. Long a tool supplier to squads in various forms of competition, Motion Pro noticed that technicians working on fresh-off-the-track bikes would occasionally suffer burns from hot engines and exhausts. That inspired the Tech glove ($23), carefully developed to provide heat and abrasion protection in key areas (including the wrists) while also allowing the dexterity and feel that is vital when fiddling with small parts and hardware.
A bonus for Motion Pro: In the field, the gloves' branding is more noticeable than that of the actual tools being used.
With Alpinestars' heavy racing involvement and modern marketing savvy, it's easy to overlook the fact that this is a heritage-rich company that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. That being the case, the Italian company is particularly qualified to offer a retro-inspired glove with up-to-date safety features, and the $100 Rayburn is a great mix of form and function. Details include a leather chassis, polymer knuckle protection, and a wrist badge with the old "Oscar" spiral logo. Best of all, the look of the gloves actually improves over time.