The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride combines the art of motorcycles and men’s fashion to raise awareness on issues, writes Nadia Badarudin
THERE’S only one occasion in Malaysia where men can dress to the nines while riding motorcycles.
The riders are welcomed to turn up in their best suits and waistcoats, and jazz up their styles with bow ties, swag caps and polished brogues or fine, designer sneakers while riding a café racer, a chopper, a scooter or a scrambler.
And scorching weather doesn’t bother these dapper-looking, custom motorcycle fans at all.
The occasion is none other than the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), a global theme ride founded by motorcycle enthusiast Mark Hawwa in Sydney, Australia in 2012.
Inspired by a photo of Don Draper of Mad Men (a popular American TV series) on a classic motorcycle, Hawwa came up with the initiative to “combat the often negative stereotype of men on motorcycles, whilst connecting niche motorcycle communities together.”
This year, the event was held to create awareness and raise funds for research pertaining to men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and mental health. It was held on Sept 30 and involved 120,000 bikers in 650 cities across the globe, including Kuala Lumpur.
The Kuala Lumpur chapter of the annual initiative was kick-started by three former school mates who founded Tiga Moto, and a place called The Gasket Alley.
“It’s not everyday that riders are welcome to turn up in polished looks under the hot sun, right? So, this is a great excuse for us to dress up in suits, bowties, tweed jackets and all and look sharp and stylish while riding our machines around the city centre.
“It is also unique in a sense that it combines the art of motorcycles and men’s fashion for a good cause,” says Ashraf Ahmad referring to the Kuala Lumpur chapter which was sponsored by Triumph Motorcycles Malaysia and Zenith Watches Malaysia.
Ashraf, Joe Mirgosha and Kamal Mansor attended the same school when they were teens. Having a shared passion for motorcycles, the trio founded Tiga Moto and created a lifestyle hub for easy riders and speed demons called The Gasket Alley.
DGR Kuala Lumpur has attracted 700 bikers from the Klang Valley and the who’s who of men’s fashion and style icons such as Wak Doyok, Jiman Casablanca, rock band Hujan frontman, Noh, and singer-songwriter Altimet.
To set the vibe and fashion mode right from the beginning, Ashraf and his friends engaged a men’s fashion movement called Habitat of Men to participate in the event.
Habitat of Men is a local fashion movement fronted by seasoned fashion designer Bon Zainal.
“To raise awareness on issues like mental health or cancer is not easy, especially among men. Well, it seems like fashion and dress code can do the tricks - to gather a bunch of like-minded people to share knowledge while doing something they love, and look good while doing it too,” says Ashraf.
BIKER’S LIFESTYLE HUB
Located in Petaling Jaya, The Gasket Alley is a one-stop centre that houses anything related to custom and classic motorcycles. Apart from few motorcycle retail and service outlets, it hosts a barber shop, a shoe spa, a music store, a café, a leather-making craft outlet and clothing stores Mother Puaka and Tiga Supply Co.
Tiga Supply Co. specialises in head-to-toe motorcycle riding apparel ranging from vintage gear to urban and streetwear.
Established by Asraf, Joe and Kamal, the company retails popular international brands including Indonesia’s Unionwell and Tesmak (in which its wooden-framed shades are a hit) as well as homegrown labels such as Tarik Jeans, Raw Denim House, Kblooker, Blue Mountain Co, Refugee Company and Iztwo Gear.
“Tiga Supply Co. is meant to be a platform for independent, homegrown brands to grow. However, we are very particular when it comes to curating the brands to ensure their concepts jive with our own and The Gasket Alley,” says Ashraf.
Apart from standard, full-gear rider looks, Tiga Supply Co. also offers hybrid fashion pieces tailored for those who prefer casual or laid-back looks.
“Fashion-wise, there is a new breed of bikers who are keen on casual and practical apparel while riding. This breed swaps leather riding boots with suitable sneakers and whatnots, for example.
“For them, we have hybrid jackets and denims. Hybrid here means that the garment looks like a standard wear but with safety features for motorcycle riding.
“For instance, we have a chino equipped with tear-proof lining and a shock-absorbing foam stitched on the inside at the knee area. It looks just like a typical chino on the outside yet is safe and practical for riders who want an alternative to full-gear looks,” he says.
What sets it apart from its competitors when it comes to motorcycle wear, especially hybrid items, is price, says Ashraf.
“We try to keep prices affordable without compromising on quality. Imported hybrid jacket or jeans are not cheap so we try to bring ours down by crafting our own versions via collaborations with local artisans and craftsmen,” he says, adding that the brand is adding more streetwear lines in its range.