A History In The Manufacturing Heartland Of Birmingham, England
We started out as a modestly sized British motorcycle clothing brand that has grown into an internationally respected brand, within just a few short years.
PASSIONATE ENTHUSIASTS WITH INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE
Starting out of a small barn conversion in the heart of British automotive manufacturing, the five founders launched the very first Merlin collection in 2012. This was achieved by drawing on over 30 years of experience across various parts of the motorcycle industry. The founding five, who are also passionate riders, drew on this vast experience to launch a small yet exciting collection, laying the foundations for what you see today.
This first collection was built on what the founders believed riders wanted but could not find; motorcycle clothing that redefined your expectations of riding apparel, showcased your personality and complimented your bike without compromising on safety, function or performance.These core principles are still embedded in the brand today and all of this aspiration is delivered at an affordable price.
It wasn’t long after launching that the team experienced those ever-familiar start-up challenges that come as a result of being a self-financed partnership. In 2012, every investment was made to create the best collection and as a result, the team had to be versatile when it came to anything but sourcing materials, making product and delivering this to our very first customers. Whether it was picking in leaking warehouses, packing in snow-covered car parks or using every room in the small barn conversion as ‘warehouse’ space, the Merlin team worked hard to keep the wheels turning in the early days with demand from riders far exceeding expectations.
A CLEAR CONCEPT BASED ON STRONG VALUES
Our product range took a big step forward in 2014 when we secured the first of many license agreements with Halley Stevensons of Dundee. Halley Stevensons are the original and leading manufacturer of textiles including waxed cotton, dating back to 1864. Since then Merlin has secured over eight globally recognised licenses, further enhancing the depth of value in every product we create. All of these partnerships have flourished, even to the extent that we have exclusive materials and joint product collaborations continuously in development. These licenses have accumulated over the years and now include, but are not limited to, NASA’s innovative temperature-regulating technology Outlast®, DuPont™ abrasion-resistant textiles, D3O® leading impact armour and the UK’s finest tartan weaver Marton Mills®.
These brand ingredients are used within each of the Merlin Collections and include Heritage, Leisure Moto and RiderWear. These rider-specific styles are designed so that riders can easily find a relevant product to suit their bike and comfortably tackle the challenges they’ll experience on their journey.
MERLIN GOES INTERNATIONAL
The Merlin team hit the road and presented our rider focused collections for the first time outside of the UK at the Intermot Motorcycle Fair, in Germany. This was the confirmation stage for the entire team after four years of UK growth. Our brand, our goal and our product struck a chord with both the trade and public alike and we were simply unable to keep up with the number of visitors to the booth. For a relatively small brand at that time with little knowledge of exactly how good Intermot could be, we were pleased to be able to expand our network for riders to over 14 countries following the show.
The show was declared a success and the first step in our international expansion; we’re on the way to becoming a significant brand within the motorcycle world. Merlin has since presented at fairs such as EICMA (Italy), Wheels & Waves (France), American motorcycle shows and at regional events globally, through our distribution partners.
TECHNICAL INNOVATION AT SCALE
Scaling up from our humble beginnings as a UK-centric brand to an international brand was a challenge that saw the team expand and implement new practices, improving all aspects of the business. With increased demand from consumers, we were soon bursting out of our property. In building for the future we were able to double our warehousing space and create a brand-new purpose-built international showroom alongside this, so we could showcase our innovative, category-leading products.
2017 saw the launch of our brand new airbag systems which came in two forms – ‘Universal’- over any brand of a jacket and ‘Integrated’- built into several Merlin airbag garments. This Italian made airbag system for motorcyclists was the first product on the market to be tested and certified to the highest motorcycle airbag dedicated test standard, CE EN1621-4 Level 2.
A GROWING PROFILE
With an ever-expanding reach, Merlin has seen its popularity increase and interestingly become a go-to brand for many riders and celebrities alike. There have been no paid partnerships or ambassadorial contracts put in place by Merlin. Instead, every television personality, musician, racing driver or chef to have worn Merlin has chosen to do this independently. To think that Merlin would be the kit of choice for such well-known personalities is astounding given the brand ambassadorial contracts out there.
BREAKING BOUNDARIES – OVER 20 COUNTRIES
Merlin products are now available in over 20 countries globally and since forming in 2012 our consumer reach has improved through long term partnerships. Through our ever-growing social community you can see just how far wide and wide our products have been used by riders, from urban settings to some of the harshest environments worldwide; including Nepal, South America and across the expanses of Australia and New Zealand.
NORTH AMERICA GROWTH
With a growing US consumer base built from years of primarily digital sales, Merlin pushes into North America with a fully-fledged business. To best service and provide a ‘wow’ experience, a new NA subsidiary was formed in Delaware with a warehousing partner in Washington. Merlin North America Inc is ran by a country manager with the team set to expand in the coming years, to meet the demands across NA territories.