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In-Turns: Fresh Perspectives On SIA

Editor’s Note: We had two interns start the Monday before SIA, and thought what better way to teach them the ropes than throw them into the sharkey waters with no training? While they’re both avid shreds, they’d never been to SIA, or any trade show, so we jumped them in with their first real assignment—cover the show from a consumer perspective and tell us what stood out and why from a non jaded industry-ite view. We think they’ll make the cut. – M.L.

By Kelli Hargrove & Jamie Magyar

From impressively innovative technologies and designs, to free booze and tattoos, SIA 2012 proved to be an eye-opening weekend for SIA virgins like yours truly. Taking place less than a week into our internship with TransWorld Business, it's hard to conceive of a better way to dive into the industry and see what it's all about than navigating the aisles of SIA. Hopping from booth to booth and talking with a multitude of different movers and shakers, it was easy to see one unifying thread tying everyone together: an affinity for snow and all of the opportunities that it welcomes. From talking to a newly made acquaintance about waist-deep powder days to seeing just how stoked exhibitors get talking about their new product lines—witnessing and feeling the unanimous passion for all things snow was one of the most memorable aspects of our SIA experience.

And, what better way to celebrate the camaraderie that exists between snow fanatics than perusing booth after booth of fresh new gear. From gloves to goggles, boots to boards, the aisles of snow sports paraphernalia seemed endless. While it was nearly impossible to see it all, and after hours spent sprinting around the Convention Center notebook and camera in hand, we compiled a list of five booths at SIA that stuck out amongst the masses. Follow the jumps for our compilation of photos and favorites below:

iNi Cooperative
Slash by Gigi
Arnette
The Program
Zeal Optics

iNi Cooperative

At only five-months old, iNi Cooperative is making an impressive mark on the snowboard industry. Under the umbrella of Marley Missions and 1Love.Org, the cooperative is focused on providing truly eco-friendly gear. Forget any gimmicks- this brand creates outerwear and base layers made entirely of recycled polyester and hemp, without any of the chemicals inherently present in plastic or Gore Tex. iNi Cooperative strives to tell a story with their brand, and to encourage consumers to understand that hemp is not a drug- it is a natural technology that provides breathable, waterproof products. With three main designs on display, the company proved that it wasn't just talk. The Expedition Jacket- complete with a 'pack-it-out' pocket for riders' trash- is made with nano-infused basalt shoots in the fabric, making it 100% sustainable. Donating 5% of proceeds to 1Love.org, this Oregon-based brand is living up to its slogan of 'agents of change." Needless to say, this industry newcomer is set to impress.

Check out products and details on the brand's mission at http://www.iNicooperative.com

For more on 1Love.org and Marley Missions, check out 1Love.org

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Slash by Gigi

"Snowboarding is a medium to express personality." – Gigi Rüf.

Debuting his line of snowboards at one of the simplest booths of the weekend, Gigi Rüf made quite an impression nonetheless. To a newcomer, seeing a rider like Rüf in the flesh is mind-blowing enough, but to have the legend spend 45 minutes explaining the inspiration and work that went into his signature product was seriously noteworthy. On top of this, the snowboard line was impressive to say the least. Rüf described his desire to create boards that support the snowboarder on a technical level, as well as acting as a means to express personality. Using the inspiration of surfboard shapers, Gigi wanted to personalize the shape of the board to fit the rider—a product built for serious riders, by a seriously experienced rider. This line promotes a return to the roots of snowboarding—to the heart and soul of the sport. With designs literally pulled from the Amazon jungle, Slash by Gigi is a unique, innovative addition to the 2012 market.

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Arnette

As though debuting its exciting new eyewear wasn't enough, Arnette went above and beyond with its booth, offering free tattoos in addition to a look at the 2012 goods. While competing for attention against folks getting fresh ink is no easy task, the fresh eyewear on display by Arnette was up to the task. Each pair of shades was better looking than the last, as Arnette's display featured a wide variety of styles for SIA attendees to check out. Though not as permanent as a new tattoo, Arnette's sturdy and stylish eyewear still managed to leave a lasting impression.

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The Program

The Program, comprised of Forum, Special Blend, and FourSquare, brought some serious style to the tradeshow floor. Though the brands presented an extensive lineup of exciting 2012 products, their snowboards were what took the cake. With several unique collections, it's impossible to be less than thrilled with The Program's 2012 offerings. Moreover, The Program's booth itself provided a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere: no ego or pretense here, just positive vibes and awesome products. Team rider Michael Wick was even kind enough to show off his board in all its off-snow glory.

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Zeal

Cruising from booth to booth, there was no shortage of new and innovative eyewear, from sunglasses to goggles. Amongst numerous standouts, Zeal Optics was a hard one to miss. Debuting its latest and greatest for the 2012-2013 winter season, Zeal had a variety of new products on display for SIA show-goers to scope out and the new line was a solid departure from its more outdoor and athletic inspired heritage, which left it feeling a bit out of place in the snowboard realm. Getting a close look at the goggles on display, spectators could see the original detailing put into each pair of goggles. From detailed buttons to small stash pockets, Zeal's goggles proved to have not only originality in appearance but reliable functionality as well.

The brand was recently purchased by Maui Jim and has overhauled not only its product offering and staff, but also its marketing and target demographic. Zeal is currently in the throws of moving offices from a warehouse space in Boulder, Colorado to a downtown location that will serve as both the brand’s headquarters and showroom. Going forward, the brand is targeting its goggles, including high-tech models such as the iON, and its sunglasses, which are all made from environmentally-friendlier castor beans, towards taste makers in their mid-twenties according to Marketing Director Joe Prebich.