What’s one of your favorite adventures you’ve tested gear on?
Palmer: Years ago, Jonah and I did this thing we called “chasing winter.” The resorts across the Rockies close for the elk migration at a certain point after the first week of April, so that first week was kind of a sweet spot for Jonah and I — we were thinking, “Well, the roads are probably clear and we can chase the final days of winter and ski on six or seven resorts and actually strap the skis and snowboards on the side of our motorcycles.”
So we were wearing a combination of both our moto gear and our snow-sports gear, because we would roll into a parking lot and go ski. Going through the high plains of Wyoming, about negative 26 or 27 degrees, 45-mph crosswind, I realized our stuff really works. I’m going 90 miles an hour in the freezing cold, but we’re warm. Every time we’d go into a gas station, everybody around us with hypothermia, and our group of six, we’re good. It was really sort of a personal testament that we build all our stuff to withstand that, because if it fails you there, you’re in a lot of trouble.
Do you ever get stories from your customers about times that your gear has saved their bacon?
Palmer: All the time. Jonah and I have shot in Iceland twice. It’s a magical place. And we had a customer follow the route that we did, because we shared with people what we did while we were there. This gentleman was traveling by himself, decided to go into the hot springs that we had found out there, and locked his keys in the car. He’s three hours from the nearest human, and all he had was a Space Hoodie and one of our base layers and a pair of jeans on. This was in the middle of the country, middle of the night.
Rather than shattering a window like I would and climbing into the back of the car, he crawled underneath his car and fell asleep. And he wrote us a testimonial about how we saved his life. These kinds of stories about people being stuck and not realizing how warm or weather-protected the gear they purchased from us was until they were put in those situations, those stories are very rewarding. We view those situations as the lowest bar. If it doesn’t work there, what’s the point of owning it?
We are very communicative with our customers, and one of the things that our customers appreciate about us is that the garment never leaves our care. You may own it, but we still hold responsibility for it when it’s in your hands. We’ve had a number of jackets where motorcyclists have gone down and they’ve actually written us to say, “Thank you. I walked away because of you.”
Jonah: There’s been a few videos of people crashing who’ve had GoPros on them. They’ve sent us the videos of them going down and standing up afterwards, it’s pretty terrifying to watch.
Palmer: And Jonah and I will engage in the conversation and say, “What happened? What were the conditions? How fast were you going? What hit the ground first?” You know, we see a little tear in the elbow, “Was that the impact point? Or was that a roll tear? Was there something on the ground that ripped it, or was that through abrasion?”
A lot of our customers are very excited to be part of that process because we want to know, can we make it better? So if whatever activity you’ve chosen to do damages an AETHER garment, we want to know. We want to know why, we want to know when, we want to know where, we want to know how. So that the next thing we do, we’re going to make sure we can solve all those problems. A lot of times, you know, asphalt is what asphalt is. So we get to the end of that and are like, “Nope, we built it right. He walked away. It didn’t fail.” That’s awesome.