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Old 05-08-2008, 12:58 PM   #1
MichaelPadway
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 4
Default My Visit to Vanson Leather Factory

Hello, I am Michael Padway. Thank you for letting me post to this forum. I am an avid motorcycle rider. Here are my observations during my visit to Vanson Leathers:

Vanson is the standard of the industry when it comes to high end, high quality, American-made leather motorcycle gear. Originally located in Boston, the firm moved to River Falls, an hour or so towards Newport, Rhode Island, because it was getting difficult to find cutters in Boston.

The factory is in a huge and very old historic building, with granite stone used in the walls, and old wooden floors, just the way it should be. The showroom is gigantic.

My original plan was to have custom clothing made, but the summer riding season is starting in California, and as Nicole teased jackets out of the many racks of clothing, I decided that I didn't want to wait the four months that it would have taken. She helped me find a "base" jacket that felt great and fit right.

I picked a traditional look snap collar jacket in medium weight leather (sort of like the jacket Doctor House wears on the television series). Two bone stripes go down the sleeves, with a black stripe to match the jacket in between. They are adding a matching star on the back that will come out of a side seam, so only part of the star will be seen. The star will also be bone with a black center, but a little bit of reflective material is being added for safety. Likewise, the Vanson ovals on the sleeves will be reflective rather than the traditional yellow (they have lots of colors available, actually).

Nicole got me started in the showroom, and was incredibly patient and helpful. I went from being overwhelmed by the amount of garments to focusing on what I wanted, and she seemed magically to find jackets that fit really well, and suited my taste, not an easy task. When we got tot he fine points, Connie came down, and explained what would work to customize the jacket. Finally, Kevin, the graphic designer, went over and modified what we had done, and I have little doubt that the final result will be unique, very cool, and really functional.

Kevin, who has been putting in 70 to 80 hour weeks getting last minute leathers to racers all of the country (for the start of the racing season), took me on a half hour tour of the plant. It is amazing what they can do. While they have old forms in stock for anything you can think of, the cutting has been computerized, so the hard forms are rarely used, anymore. Likewise, anything you can think of in graphics is cut with a special piece of equipment that cuts the leather into intricate shapes using a knife made of water under 30,000 pounds of pressure. Everywhere that we went, I saw one cool jacket after the next, much custom work not in any catalogue, and all very high quality, particularly the leather quality.

I can't thank these three enough. They made me feel like a celebrity racer getting exactly what I wanted.

It is a little daunting to feel the weight of the four ounce competition weight leather before break in. I know the jacket I selected seemed to become more comfortable just from wearing it in the showroom while we discussed changes. This gear will last a long time.

Kevin, who is preparing for a Lake Erie race himself, clearly likes what he does for a living. He mentioned the satisfaction he gets when a customer writes to thank him for getting a racer or rider through a crash without injury.

Speaking of injury protection, Vanson has different levels of armor, starting with dense foam for the medium weight armor, and going up to the plastic covered foam that needs to be designed into the garment. The hard plastic takes the first hit, with he force spread out by the foam underneath. Very protective. Event he medium weight street armor seems very substantial, and both foams performed admirably in my informal testing, consisting of dropping my cell phone from different heights, to see if there would be any bounce. There wasn't. The cell phone simply dropped, and seemed to stick tot he foam as all of the force was absorbed.

A lot of research preceded this trip, but even so I was very satisfied and pleased with what I found. It is hard to describe how helpful everyone was, and how impressive the company was, while conveying the unique feel that Vanson has.

Vanson is the real deal, the authentic, All American, what you want to be wearing if you need it, traditional (with modern methods) leather place to go. Well done.
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