(Original article by Noma Nazish, CONTRIBUTOR, on May 31, 2018: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2018/05/31/ten-questions-with-harley-davidson-motorclothes-creative-head-karen-davidson/#470cda3d18a3)
Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of Harley-Davidson's co-founder William A. Davidson, has been shaping the design direction for H-D General Merchandise's apparel and accessory division for nearly 30 years.
After studying fashion design in college and successfully running her own leather design business for a while, Davidson decided to join the motorcycle company in 1989. In 1991, she was awarded the prestigious industry award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in New York in 1991 for fashion influence.
As the company gears up to celebrate its 115th year of inception, Harley is launching its exclusive lifestyle apparel stores throughout Asia, with a long-term strategy to build next generation of riders through casuals and off-the-bike clothing.
I rapped with Davidson when she recently visited India to inaugurate one of the lifestyle stores in the east Indian city of Kolkata.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Noma Nazish: When did you start riding and what was your first motorcycle?
Karen Davidson: I started riding when I was 9. My dad [Harley Davidson's styling expert Willie G. Davidson] had procured a small motorcycle, one of our lightweight motorcycles – an older one an M50. All of us got a chance to experience it.
NN: What was it like growing up in the Davidson household as a female?
KD: It was the same as my brothers, we all had the same experiences. This was great as the brand meant I could do what my brothers did. There was no separation between what I did versus the boys. We all got on the motorcycle together, went to a lot of events, races. We had a lot of fun, a lot of adventures and we were on the road a lot. We also enjoyed various activities with customers, our riders. In fact, it had a major influence on me, on what I was inspired to do later while being around the riding culture at a young age. Not that I knew what I was going to do eventually!
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