“A quarter of our clothing income comes from women: Puneet Sood of Royal Enfield
Speaking at the launch of the limited edition helmet for its 120th anniversary, Global Head-Apparel Business and Gordon May, brand historian, share the process of creating the helmets that represent the brand’s history .
Celebrating its 120th anniversary, motorcycle brand Royal Enfield has created an exclusive line of limited edition helmets comprised of 12 models, each inspired by a poster / infomercial from one of the twelve decades of the legacy of the Mark. Each helmet is hand painted and they tell the stories of the past 120 years.
In an interview with afaqs !, Puneet Sood, National Business Head – North and West India & Global Head – Apparel Business – Royal Enfield and Gordon May, the historian behind documenting motorcycle history, share the creation process of these limited edition helmets and its reflections on the global riding apparel market.
âHelmets are one of the most important pieces of protective equipment for any cyclist. It is the first thing motorcyclists buy after buying the bike. It is also very personal and the rider wears it with pride. There couldn’t have been a better canvas than a personal helmet, âSood said.
Sood said work on the helmets started over a year ago with discussions about what they can do and how helmets could become the canvas for telling his stories. The emphasis has always been on style, comfort and, above all, protection.
âThese helmets are a perfect blend of classic designs, history and modern technology. We use the best materials. The interiors are of absolutely premium quality. It is coated with a specific coating which prevents it from needing to be washed as often. This brings sustainability and water conservation. They pass all global safety standards. To bring the human touch, they are all painted by hand. This is what makes it a true collector’s item, âhe added.
Each week for the next six weeks, Royal Enfield will offer two models of helmets, one on Monday and Wednesday, and the sale of these will go live on their website only on Saturday and Sunday at noon. Each helmet design will have a unique number from 001/120 to 120/120. The helmet packaging will also consist of a postcard (actual poster / advertising artwork) with the story inspiration for this design.
Open face helmets are priced at Rs 6,950 and full face helmets at Rs 8,450 and are only available online. People have to register to buy these helmets from the brand’s official website. For the first weekend, they received 10,000 registrations. However, only 120 units for each model were made, so they are sold on a first come, first served basis.
May helped choose the best story to tell. Although researching these stories has been an easy task for him, as he has written about the brand over the past two decades, he described the process of selecting stories for helmets as a “real challenge”, saying that ‘There are so many that it ultimately came down to choosing whether to focus on the story or on the original posters they have from that decade that the community can relate to.
For example, for the 1910s, the helmet was inspired by Royal Enfield’s racing successes on the Brooklands circuit and the Isle of Man TT. In 1914, during the Isle of Man Junior TT races, for the very first time, all 49 riders wore protective helmets. The corresponding film tells the brave but tragic story of Frederick James Walker, who wins the race but is killed in a fatal accident. May said that in the same decade there were a lot of other stories.
âFor example, during World War I, Royal Enfield made sidecars equipped with machine guns, so that soldiers could reach the front line very quickly and retreat very quickly. While investigating this story, we found out that she also made sidecar stretchers. These were mobile ambulances that could reach the front line and take the wounded quickly, âhe explained.
Speaking about how he found these stories, he said that one story often leads him to another. âIn the 1950s, Royal Enfield opened its first factory in Madras and while investigating this I discovered that in 1956 two young Indian students bought one of the first balls to come off the production line and took her as far as England to the Redditch. The Royal Enfield factory, âhe added.
Making films about subjects 12 decades ago comes with its challenges. The biggest challenge here was to do the stories justice by being respectful to the people of that time.
âIt would be easy to glorify something without being fully respectful of that person’s memory and achievements. As the movies are animated, quality was crucial in bringing these stories to life, âhe adds.
They also needed images from that decade to be the origin of the story. âThe intention was to tell real stories as they were. All of the narration on our helmets is from an actual poster or past piece of content that was available. Then we had to build around it. The entire 1910 film is made from a single poster. It was a challenge, âadded Puneet.
Sood and May both said the 1930s helmet was their favorite among the 12. It represents the first bullets released in 1932. May even has a personal connection as he owns one of the first bullets ever made.
Sood said the horse riding community in India has struggled to get the right riding clothes, especially the women. While they get credible riding equipment, it is very expensive and not suitable for the Indian climate, as many are from Europe. The cheapest are not credible enough.
âThe market has long lacked a credible player. We are trying to play that role in the market. We have established multiple collaborations with brands that are the best in the world in the manufacture of these products and we have kept safety at the heart of it, âhe adds.
The market is changing rapidly as more and more people are opting for recreational motorcycles rather than commuting. âIt also means there needs to be more education. So we have to play this role by making sure our community is aware of what it needs in terms of security and also improving the quality of the industry as a whole, âhe said.
Speaking of the Royal Enfield clothing line, Sood said, the clothing line complements the ecosystem around motorcycling. It is chosen not only by those who own the motorcycle but also by those who aspire to own one or those who have owned it in the past.
âWe don’t think Royal Enfield is just a motorcycle brand. It’s a lifestyle brand. And I think the clothes help by complementing the whole lifestyle. The clothes have also become a canvas for us to tell our stories, âhe said.
Besides its 2000+ dealers, its products are available on third party ecommerce players like Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, Tata Cliq. They are also available at Shop-in-Shop stores like Central and Shoppers Stop. Last year they collaborated with denim brand Levi’s and the clothes built in collaboration with them were available in all stores. âIn our Shop-in-Shop chain, almost 40% of people who bought our lifestyle clothing did not own a motorcycle. There are a large number of people who want to stay connected to the brand even if they are not riding the bike at the time, âhe adds.
The brand has experienced a 50-50 split when it comes to its online sales versus offline sales. In offline sales, Shop-in-Shop stores like Central and Shoppers Stop have more people buying lifestyle clothing and at dealerships, where consumers buy their new motorcycles, more riding gear is available. sold. On the brand’s website they see a lot of brand enthusiasts, while on the third-party apps a lot of people are trying to figure out what kind of driving gear to buy.
The brand also manufactures products for shorter journeys such as commuting. âSafety isn’t just for long journeys. It is also when you are driving to your office. Our StreetWind jacket, which is a very affordable full mesh jacket at under 5,000 rupees, has performed very well, âsaid Sood.
Without disclosing revenue figures, Sood said they had exceeded expectations with “double-digit growth from the high side” in recent years.
Last year, Royal Enfield launched its very first line of riding clothing and equipment, exclusively for women. Sood said that since launch, one in four consumers visiting his online store is female. A quarter of its income also comes from women. Although 75 percent of its visitors are still men, women have spent significantly more money in its online stores.
âSince we have been able to bring an accessible range, this has led more women to ride, either as a rider or as a passenger. It also means that they have become more aware of it. Men buy clothes for themselves. Women also buy for men. Women may spend a lot more because they build their riding equipment, but they spend a lot more than men on riding equipment and motorcycle clothing, âhe added.