Midway through 2016, we noticed a new name in motocross apparel at the pro races in “VEXEA MX.” A project of military veteran Adam Baldwin, the North Carolina-based brand aced the look of modern motocross gear with patterns and colors. Now roughly two years since the launch of the company, VEXEA MX has inked a handful of high-profile riders to endorsement contracts and continues to bring new styles to the market. During the downtime at a recent round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, we spent a few moments with Baldwin discussing the early formation of the company and what is to come in the next few months.
How did the idea for a gear brand come about? VEXEA has been around for a little while and now there is a strong push with riders like Broc Tickle, Matt Bisceglia, Nate Adams, and Destin Cantrell.
It started about twenty-four months ago. I did ten years in the military and the majority of that was in special operations with scout sniper stuff. In that realm, gear is everything and it all has to be perfect. I started to hang around a couple of training facilities and a lot of moto kids after being a fan forever. It seemed like all of these guys had an engine builder and suspension guy that they swore by, but for gear, it was whatever they had and that always surprised me. Digging into it, I wondered what was up with gear. Durability was the big factor because guys were putting cool designs on stuff and marketing it decently. So since durability is my thing, I wanted to build gear that had all of the functionality of today's stuff while still holding up like it did in the 1990s.
So all of the money you made in the Special Forces is now in VEXEA?
Up until recently, this entire thing was self-funded. It's cool because I look at it as my baby and I believe in it. There were questions of how we were going to do this, or how big, or the direction that we wanted to go. After we made our first set of sample pants, I have a guy that is still running them. He has put over one hundred and seventy hours on a pair of pants with no holes. That's our proof of concept and it's gone above and beyond anything we could have thought. Once we did that, we held it pinned to get to where we are now.
What was it like to work out the details like materials, cuts of gear, and designs?
It's a serious process. Artwork and colorways are the initial attraction, but that's ten-percent of what it takes to get gear up to par. In a market that is as competitive as gear is, you have to bring it or not come at all. We looked at the heart of the gear with cuts, fabrics, and even seams because those are the weakest points in gear. All of ours are sewn internally, even on the jersey. That's been our resilience comes from. The hardest parts all come before you put the colors on it.
Did you use equipment from your military background as inspiration for the gear? Or are those pieces too heavy for motocross?
You can take the concepts of that stuff, but it definitely has to be lightened up. The internal seam process is something I had in a pair of pants when I was deployed, so that's where it came from. You can take a general concept, but it has to be lighter, vented, and more functional.
How is it to sign riders like Broc just as the company starts? He is the face of a new brand to the public.
Signing Broc was awesome. I couldn't ask for a better guy because he is a great representation of us. We're not going to make a lot of noise or trash talk about things that are going on. We just want to do our thing and let the product speak for itself. And that's exactly what Broc does on the track. It worked for him and it works for us, because we've come a long way in twelve months since the product hit the market.
How do the next twelve months look? You will have new product on the market soon.
We just finished sampling and will be in production for 2018, and we have some stuff going on that will expand the brand into other industries. We have a lot going on right now and it's awesome because everyone on the team has a lot on their plates, but they come to work with a smile on their face. As long as we can keep doing that, we are going in the right direction.