Partners in Progression: 2014 Snow Collabs

Partners in Progression: 2014 Snow Collabs

Shortly after mastering potty training, many of us received instruction in the merits of sharing.  From lending out our boards to offering up floor space, these lessons have served us well in shredding.  Increasingly, brands are also applying these lessons, teaming up to share ideas and create fresh collaborations.  And as their latest projects reveal, sharing has never looked better.

Brands are quick to assert that collaborations can serve as a catalyst for creativity.  As Sabre Creative Director Ryan Nix explains, “Collabs should be about two forces coming together to release something that would otherwise never see the light of day.”  Sabre, for example, recently collaborated with Spring Break snowboards to create a glow-in-the-dark goggle.  The brainchild of former pro Corey Smith, Spring Break is as much an art project as it is an experiment in crafting unconventional decks.  After all, “Creativity and snowboarding go hand in hand,” notes Flux Marketing and Operations Assistant Kara Flieststra.  Flux’s forthcoming collaborations serve as testament to this.  For next season, Flux has partnered with the apparel brand JSLV and artist James Haunt to create a binding that bears Haunt’s iconic work.  Flux will also debut a collaboration with Raw Rolling Papers, which Fliestra asserts, shares Flux’s “dedication to providing the highest quality product possible.”

Holden Cofounder Mikey LeBlanc notes that collaborations provide a means to “share your brand’s strengths with others who are amazing in their own area of expertise.”  For next season, Holden and Outdoor Research have teamed up to create a mitten inspired by the latter’s legendary Mt. Baker Mitt.  Jordan Wand, Outdoor Research Vice President of Product and Marketing, explains that the partnership “seemed like a great fit given Outdoor Research’s heritage in snowboarding with the Mt. Baker Mitt and Holden’s interest in authentic style.”  According to Wand, collaborations can also allow partners to “introduce each other’s brands to one another’s sales channels.

Here are just a few of next year’s bumper crop of collabs that caught our eye:

For Dragon, its recent collaboration with Nike stemmed from shared values.  “The natural synergies between Nike and Dragon just made sense—for both brands athlete involvement and product innovation are at the forefront of our vision,” explains Dragon Director of Product Mike Tobia.  In addition to creating a series of Advanced Projects X goggles, the collaboration also enabled Dragon to learn from Nike.  “Nike just happens to be cream of the crop, clearly leading the way in terms of athlete involvement, product innovation, and supply chain compliance,” offers Tobia.  “It’s been a major eye opener and an amazing opportunity for Dragon to learn and grow.”

Collaborations can also provide a platform for education.  Burton, for example, has recently partnered with Lifebeat.  “For over twenty years, Lifebeat has been mobilizing the music industry to help raise awareness and resources around HIV and Aids,” explains Burton Vice President of Marketing Anne-Marie Dacyshyn.  As part of this partnership, Burton’s 2014 Women’s Lipstick Restricted will pay homage to Salt-n-Pepa.  The legendary hip hop trio serves as ambassadors for Lifebeat.  The series of four boards feature topsheets that rock an iconic photo from the eighties of the band and bases adorned with lyrics from the group like “Ah Push It!” and “Real Good!”  Yet the collaboration transcends products, as Burton and Lifebeat are partnering on a range of promotions, events, and campaigns in line with the organization’s mission.

While brands are quick to espouse the benefits of collaborations, riders and retailers are also eager to embrace them.  By limiting the quantity and distribution of collaborations, brands often create products that drive customers to core retailers.  Burton’s collaboration with Lifebeat and Salt-n-Pepa, for example, will only be available through the specialty retailers in the brand’s Restricted program.  “Retailers get the opportunity to sell products with a back story,” reveals Nix of Sabre.  “There’s no denying that standard issue products are the meat and potatoes of the industry, but collaborations play an integral part in engaging consumers and keeping them interested.”