Meet Your Maker

Since 1947, Langlitz Leathers Has Crafted Portland’s Coolest Motorcycle Jackets

And it all started with a bad bike crash.

By Leah Sottile September 21, 2016 Published in the Design Annual: Fall 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

Omoda 16 langlitz leathers esjjv1

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Kota Kakutani (cutter), Paula Avellandea (seamstress), Marcus Brown (cutter), and John Weber (production manager); the accessories line; a signature leather jacket.

Langlitz Leathers started with an accident and a bad idea.

First came the accident: In 1935, 17-year-old Ross Langlitz was on his motorcycle when a drunk driver backed over him. Doctors amputated his leg and told him he’d never ride again. Then, the bad idea: Langlitz ignored them. He rode on. He sewed his own jackets, which became so popular among his biker friends that he founded his own custom motorcycle jacket company in 1947.

Today, the 10-person family-owned business still makes every pocket, seam, zipper, and snap just the way Ross did back in the 1940s, shipping them to riders from Japan to Germany from the longtime Langlitz HQ on SE Division Street. This small crew has always approached its craft with the old-school attention to detail that is now considered a hallmark of Portland’s artisanal industries. “It’s locally made, handmade stuff,” office manager Scott Smith says. “That’s what Portland is becoming known for, isn’t it?”

Smith says Langlitz jackets are made for rainy, windy Northwest rides, and for riders like Ross Langlitz—the kind who don’t wait for sunny days, who feel the call of the road, and don’t let anything get in their way. 

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