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Casual apparel making gains with ATV’s increased exposure – July 3, 2006

July 3, 2006
Filed under Features

Although ATV casual apparel may not be as prevalent as motorcycle wear, it’s catching up, manufacturers and distributors agree.
And it’s all about awareness, and proximity brings awareness.
Whether it’s about staying safe while riding or representing a favorite brand, people who spend more time with frequent riders are more likely to wear apparel, industry officials agree.
“If you’re more involved, you’re going to want to emulate people,” said Greg Blackwell, vice president of sales for LeMans Corp., which owns Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialities. “It’s not just a fashion statement.”
While this apparel trend has long been evident in the motorcycling world, the ATV scene is just getting into it, said Brad Kruckenberg, Moose Racing’s general manager. Moose is one of many brands that manufacture casual and race gear for motorcyclists and ATV enthusiasts.
The racing world seems to be the premier trend generator. Racing brings together ATV enthusiasts in a way unlike any other ATV segment can. People can observe what racers are wearing, as well as what the fans have on.
The sale of casual powersports apparel is intrinsically tied to the specific sport’s popularity. As motorcycling and motocross racing picked up in popularity and were featured in movies and on national television, corresponding race and casual wear received more exposure. ATV riding and racing is still working up to that level of attention.
“ATVs have been the red-headed stepchild of dirt bikes for years,” said B.C. Vaught, team manager and director of sales for ATV casual wear manufacturer Division 4. “But ATVs are selling four times the amount of dirt bikes these days. They’re starting to get exposure on ESPN2 and on tour. It’s coming of age. It’s time, you know?”
It certainly may be time: Division 4, one of only two casual ATV apparel manufacturers in the United States according to Vaught, recently signed a distribution deal with Tucker Rocky following the Dealer Expo this spring.
“[Division 4] is all based around an ATV lifestyle,” Vaught said. “Guys on quads. Tons of families have ATVs. It’s for kids who like to jump, who like to race, anyone who likes to ride.”
But what about the casual ATV rider?
Marketing to the racing crowd seems relatively easy compared to the rest of the ATV world. But there is a way to go after utilitarian ATV riders, Blackwell said.
“We have our own ideas,” he said. “It doesn’t take rocket scientists to figure it out. It’s not easy to market to [different segments of the ATV industry], but it shouldn’t be either. There are different markets out there. You have farmers, you have hunters, racers, trail riders. As a company marketing to those people, we have to figure out how to go after those segments.”
Part of the equation is being aware of the point of purchase, Blackwell said. Farmers who purchased an ATV from their local John Deere franchise aren’t going to be reading ATV magazine and won’t see any advertisements for casual ATV apparel that might appear there. Utilitarian ATV enthusiasts have to be reached on their own turf.
Regardless of why they ride or where they found their quad, Vaught thinks most ATV enthusiasts wouldn’t mind wearing ATV-specific casual apparel.
“I think that people that ride ATVs are proud of the fact that they ride,” Vaught said. “You can represent the fact that you ride an ATV [with casual apparel]. Anybody’s digging it.” psb

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