Los Angeles native Jenna Stellar vividly remembers going to sidecar races all around Southern California to watch her father race in the late '70s. As a Hollywood costumer and rider, she's uniquely qualified to boldly launch a motorcycle clothing company. Whereas the demands of movies and television warrant all-nighters and one-off garments, motorcycle gear for women especially seemed like a cakewalk for Stellar, who launched her company nearly two years ago.

Stellar Moto
Women were the initial focus of Stellar, until the men began asking for gear as well.Jessie Gentry
Jenna and her father Mike Stellar
A young Jenna sits in her father Mike’s sidecar during a Griffith Park race in the early ’80s. He worked with Doug Binham for years.Courtesy of Jenna Stellar

I first met her at this year's Outlier's Guild Motorcycle Show in late March, and again at the Handbuilt Show in Austin a few weeks later.

We spoke about her craft and decision to launch a clothing company over dinner in North Hollywood in mid-May. Her focus on jumpsuits made with Dyneema was a particularly hot topic.

Wild Gypsy Tour
Stellar was part of the Wild Gypsy Tour at the Sturgis Rally this year.Courtesy of Jenna Stellar

What prompted you to dive so deep into designing, making, and selling motorcycle jumpsuits?

Intense need for me to have one! I loved Evel Knievel and other superheroes as a kid, and they all had rad onesies. I was always wearing one-piece jumpsuits, hoping other people would feel like I did about them. Once I made one for myself others wanted one as well.

From the outside it initially looked like a suicide business decision. Many people seem reluctant to buy $200 Kevlar jeans, let alone $850 Dyneema jumpsuits. How long did it take you to choose Dyneema as your mainline material, and how easy/hard is it to pattern into a finished jumpsuit?

I was searching for the perfect fabric; my jumpsuit needed to stretch and protect, not stiffen and make one look like a puffer fish. I had to put the project on hold a few times in my pursuit for the ideal fabric. I’ve always been involved with fabric, and LA has a fashion district with plenty of fabric to work with. I was making stage clothes for rock bands, and their garments have to move, look good, be comfortable and last.

Stellar leather jacket
Stellar leather jackets take a different approach.Jessie Gentry

Working on film, sometimes I’d make 20 versions of the same costume just for one day of shooting, so I knew how to create something for function as well as form.

Stellar sketches
A peek into the mind of Stellar.Courtesy of Jenna Stellar

I was adding Kevlar to people’s jeans, but for a flattering fit with protection Dyneema was the ideal choice. For women’s clothes in general, the more stretch built in the better, especially when riding a motorcycle. The eureka moment came when I gave up on adding a Kevlar lining to standard denim for friends, and Dyneema stretch came available. It’s the ultimate summertime fabric. Layer silk or thin wool underneath for colder weather and it’s perfect.

Most motorcycle garments are made in Asia, Romania, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, or Indonesia. How did you find capable manufacturers in Los Angeles? Must be convenient to maintain quality control when you live just up the road in North Hollywood.

It is. And I can also get samples easier, and oversee the armor placement, which is critical. I can also do smaller batches compared to having garments made overseas. It’s also critical that a manufacturer follows proper progression, which I can control locally. Manufacturing in LA is alive and well, but it’s not as big as it used to be.

Stellar mechanic's jumpsuit
The Stellar Maven mechanic’s jumpsuit is now available.Courtesy of Jenna Stellar

Not only do you use Dyneema, you add SAS-Tec armor. Is protection as important to you as fit and function?

All my jackets and pants come with armor. There are those who think they don’t want it, and including it makes more sense for my customers. It sucks going down on a bike, and I didn’t want to cut any corners. If I could keep somebody from going through what I did, I’m including armor whether they want it or not!

My jumpsuit has the option of being worn with my mesh under-armor. I don’t like having one set of armor that gets moved around from garment to garment.

Stellar on Jay Leno's Garage
Stellar and her posse toured Jay Leno's Garage.Jessie Gentry

I had the pleasure of trying your men's jumpsuit production prototype. How and when did you decide to make something for the fellas, and when might we see final production available?

Stellar was originally intended for women, but I had been making custom jackets for guys prior to launching the brand. I wanted to get the women’s stuff out there first, and as fate would have it the guys started getting jealous about the jumpsuits. I knew I was going to dabble with men’s clothing, but I didn’t think it would include onesies! I’ve always loved how mechanic’s jumpsuits look on men.

I’m working on final production sometime later this summer. I don’t do big production runs, so sometimes I have to wait for my manufacturer to have time for my little operation. I wait my turn, but I’m decisive. By the time I share it with them I’m ready to produce. I’m also working way ahead of time on new products, including bigger sizes for women.

In the costume design world everything needs to be done immediately; with Stellar all good things take time. I’m just tickled to have so many great customers.