Behind the new Merlin Explorer Collection
The all-new Merlin Explorer Collection launched in February and has already started to receive five-star reviews from customers worldwide.
But what’s behind the collection and where did the inspiration come from? We sat down with Product Designer James Franklin to find out more.
Q: What was the inspiration behind the Explorer Collection?
A: “Explorer was created to blur the lines between naked, retro, heritage and adventure. There are a number of technical features in the garments that you would find in your typical adventure gear, but Explorer takes them one step further. Cordura® and Halley Stevensons® waxed cottons are used in outer constructions and seven-piece D3O® armour is pre-fitted into the garments too, so you’re getting both performance and the timeless signature Merlin style in the jackets, boots and gloves along with a couple of trouser options.
We’re really looking into and exploring this new market. We’re seeing this influx of new motorcycles that are yet to have gear to match them, so we’re excited for this new rugged, durable range.”
Q: What makes Explorer different to what’s already on the market?
A: “Adventure gear is typically made from polyesters and man-made fibres with laminates and in their own right they do what they’re designed to do very well. But for the ‘weekend warriors’ and the people who are trekking out on a Saturday and Sunday and are back into the office on Monday, they’re looking for something with a more refined style to include the Merlin DNA.
We’ve lifted the CE performance through the garments so you’re getting a higher level of certification through the test houses we use in the UK, Italy and Spain. We’ve also upgraded the waterproof membranes used and added more pieces of D3O® armour, so instead of the standard three/four/five pieces you’re getting seven pieces pre-fitted.
Ultimately, everything we do is about ‘bang for buck’. We’re packing loads into the product but it’s got to be affordable for all riders. The goal is that everything we’ve done in previous collections is carried over – so you’re getting the improved seven-piece D3O® armour, exclusive Cordura® cottons with a brushed finish, Halley Stevensons® waxed cotton and Reissa® waterproofing, along with the implementation of the newly-acquired Sympatex® license, which is used in the gloves.
Everything in the collection is ultra-high in specification and performance but at everyday, affordable prices, which has always been our goal.”
Q: Who is Explorer for?
A: “Explorer is for the new breed of motorcycles and consumers coming into the market. Someone who’s looking for a bike to travel a little extra distance on, but isn’t necessarily going to go for a ‘retro classic’ bike or make a huge step up to a BMW 1250GS, for example, so we’re looking at that gap in between.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a prime example of the motorcycle we’re aiming at – it’s accessible, easy to ride and is fun both on and off road.”
Q: How versatile is Explorer? Can it really be used anywhere?
A: “It absolutely can be. We’ve included multiple layering systems to allow for riding in all weathers and all conditions. There’s fixed waterproof drop liners, full ventilation to the front and rear and also removable waterproofing options. You can strip out all the thermal and waterproofing, open up the vents and you’ve got a full, lightweight outer carcass that still has the protection you need but is more breathable.”
Q: What’s your favourite piece from the Explorer range?
A: “The Mahala jacket and trouser combo stands out to me the most, because we’ve got a number of colour options inspired by the outdoors – different to the existing Merlin ranges, which have typically been quite subtle in black or olive.
In the Mahala we’re getting new colour combinations all in the brand-new and exclusive fabric that we’ve developed with a mill. The new Cordura® cotton meets CE ‘AA’, but the jackets it’s used on still keep the classic, Merlin signature styling with leather trims and Merlin-branded snap studs.
Performance-wise, there’s a Reissa waterproof membrane and 125g thermal liner that can be taken out. Then coming back to the biggest feature of Explorer, which is the seven-piece D3O armour. For the first time in an affordable garment, shoulders, elbows, back and two chest inserts come pre-fitted in the jackets.”
Q: How did you design Explorer and what were your inspirations?
A: “Good question! If we look at the stand out design cues of Explorer, you’d look at the asymmetrical zip of the Monty jacket, which is striking because it comes from that classic, rally-inspired look. In that jacket we’re also using the 12oz Halley Stevensons® Silkwax cotton, so it’s a heavyweight garment with timeless style but modern performance.
Behind that there’s Mahala, with a fully connectable jacket and trouser with a more touring-focused look. There’s the traditional four front pockets with side entries on the bottom two and a double layer storm flap up the front, so in concept it looks a little more familiar which we hope consumer will engage with. But it’s totally different in its design cues and the colours stand out a lot more.
There’s something for every rider, so if you’re looking for something shorter and away from a Monty, there’s Nomad which has a more traditional sport cut with two pockets to the chest and side-entry hand pockets.”
Q: How does Explorer fit with the existing Merlin ranges?
A: “We’re heavily focused on the collections being targeted at different types of riders. We’re probably most well-known for Heritage, so this would be our staple collection. Behind that we’ve got an urban offering in Leisure Moto which offers lightweight items; riding denims, Kevlar® shirts etc.
Explorer bridges that gap between heritage and what we see coming in the lightweight adventure gear market. It fits nicely within the existing ranges without conflicting with anything else, but still maintains the same brilliant price points.”
Published on 1 April, 2022 by Emily Macbeth