Summer is already in full swing and with it comes the sounds of the season; the rumble of motorcycles on the roads is, for me, a telltale sign that the warm weather is finally here to stay. It’s been years since I’ve had a ride on the back of a motorcycle but I got the chance to immerse myself in moto-culture once again when I met with the team behind ZIN Motowear and hear the story behind their fashionable and functional line of motorcycle wear. It’s a pleasure to introduce you to George Rabuzin, Stephanie McNeil and Mike Mulik, the trio behind ZIN Motowear.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and the idea for ZIN Motowear was born out of this concept. George started riding motorcycles again after several years of not riding, but he didn’t like the clothing that was available on the market (George is a stylish guy — he even has a clothier — so fashion is very important to him). He asked his partner Stephanie, a fashion designer with over 10 years’ experience working in the fashion industry, to make him some clothes, and they received a great response from George’s friends to the first pair of pants that Stephanie made for him. This was back in 2015 and the beginning of their challenging journey to find a manufacturer that was capable of making their clothing using the special abrasion-resistant denim they wanted to work with (while they are a fashion-first company, it was equally important that function and safety were incorporated into all their designs). Their search took them from Canada to LA before finally meeting a supplier and manufacturer based in Asia that was capable and willing to take on their business, using a brand of fiber called Dyneema, a material made of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) that is a strong form of nylon that is cross-woven with denim resulting in a fabric that has a high amount of abrasion resistance. Since the material is so strong, it makes it difficult to work with, requiring machines with heavy-duty needles and stitching capability, which is why it took two years to find a manufacturer that was up to the task.
At the same time that George and Stephanie were on the hunt for a manufacturer, the third member of their team joined them. Mike, who runs a marketing and advertising agency in Toronto, was introduced to George through a mutual friend in December of 2016. This friend told Mike that George was in the process of starting a clothing company and creating a website and suggested that they meet. Mike, a fellow rider, was struggling with what to wear and with the challenge of having to change out of riding clothes and into something else for the office, then back again to ride home, and he instantly connected with functional-meets-fashionable brand that George and Stephanie were forming and joined them as a business partner.
Photo credit: Che Rosales c/o TOM*FW
ZIN Motowear debuted their first complete men’s collection at TOM*FW (Toronto Men’s Fashion Week) in March 2018. Primarily a denim brand, the clothing features leather accents that are only in the details (since leather is too hot for all-over clothing), and functional details such as built-in backpacks (expandable zippered pockets on the backs of jackets that can hold a laptop, tablet, phone, etc.), hidden mesh for air ventilation, and pockets that accommodate standard-sized safety armour that can be easily removed so that they don’t add bulk to the outfit when worn off the bike. One of my favourite pieces that they showed me when I visited their Toronto studio was the “Miami” pant — a full-length pant that protects the entire leg while riding, that can be unzipped at the knee to become shorts for a cooler form of leisure-wear. There are riders who want to look fashionable on their motorcycles but denim wasn’t always previously a wise choice as regular denim doesn’t protect the skin in the event of a fall, but the advanced technology of the Dyneema fabric that ZIN is using is abrasion-resistant and integrates the trifecta of fashion-function-safety. It’s a truly incredible fabric that you need to see to believe — Stephanie handed me a scrap piece of regular denim and asked me to rip it, which I did quite easily; then she handed me a piece of Dyneema denim to rip and that bad boy wasn’t tearing, not even a little!
George, Stephanie and Mike are working on their next menswear collection that we’ll hopefully see on the runway later this year, and are also working on their first womenswear collection. If you’re a motorcycle rider (or even just a passenger) then you’ll definitely want to know about ZIN Motowear — let’s face it, you’re always on display on a motorcycle, there’s nothing to hide behind like in a car, so you want to look good! And of course, you want to look good safely. The team at ZIN are exceptionally passionate about the clothing they are bringing to market and worked long and hard to create their own lane in this industry. Visit their website to find out more about ZIN Motowear and where you can purchase their clothing.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow about George, Stephanie and Mike:
I can't start my morning without... my latte which is made of fresh ground beans from Eative Film Café in Kensington Market with almond milk.
I have a weakness for...Red Motorcycles that are made in Italy.
Most people don't know that I...am normal because I take at least 1 day off every 6 months.
Currently reading... my mind, no time to read literature, focused on doing.
An important lesson I learned from a challenge I faced...slow is fast.
I want...to change the world, one pair of pants at a time.
I can't start my morning without...Instagram and my Jimmy’s Americano miso with almond milk.
I have a weakness for... dates, preferably natural ones.
Most people don't know that I...love to hike, I would love to learn rock climbing.
Currently reading... “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz, I love the simple reminders about life and relationships.
An important lesson I learned from a challenge I faced…PATIENCE! Being patient with creativity and business is key to not rushing into a situation that could potentially hurt your business or just being patient with the creative process of stepping away and then returning with more drive.
I want...to grow ZIN Motowear into the largest lifestyle motorcycle brand for both women and men riders.
I can't start my morning without...freshly brewed coffee.
I have a weakness for…my wife.
Most people don't know that I...am a really bad sketch artist.
Currently reading...too many motorcycle magazines.
An important lesson I learned from a challenge I faced…passion turns work into play every time. It gives me drive and direction in life.
I want…to see more of our world on two wheels.
Thank you so much to George, Stephanie and Mike for participating in #WeWantToKnow! It was such a pleasure getting to know you and learning more about you and your brand!