Retail contact: Sully@romesnowboards.com
Dan Sullivan, Director of Sales:
What are the three biggest trends you see shaping the market and what you are doing to meet them?
1. Earlier showings/earlier bookings. We have improved our timelines so that we can allow our sales team to show clothing earlier, with the expectation that we will be able to submit our PO’s to the factories sooner. Manufacturing lead times have been increased considerably which has put an even greater emphasis on getting a head start on viewings.
2. Frugal consumer spending. Like many other categories, clothing has experienced the same consumer scrutiny with middle price points seeing most of the action at retail. We have made sure we have strong offerings and features at these key price points and we have increased our offering and color selections in this area.
3. A more subdued consumer. The trend of the ‘louder styling the better’ appears to have taken a backseat to a return to more solid colors with more strategic placement of printing or blocking. All over, bold prints seem to have run their course, at least for a good portion of the market.
What are the biggest changes in the outerwear market you’re seeing for this winter on the business front?
The manufacturing and shipping challenges in Asia are the most notable changes from a business perspective. With factories having shortages for skilled outerwear sewing labor and containers taking longer to leave ports, there will be an increased effort to book 2012 preseason business sooner in order to meet the delivery timelines retailers want and expect.
What fabrics, colors, and technologies are you focusing on for next season?
The overarching focus of the Rome Snowboard Design Syndicate is to develop an outerwear line that is both durable and rocks feature-rich snowboard functionality allowing maximum ride time and as many days as you can manage on the hill for several seasons. We use a variety of quality fabrics ranging from ones with a very soft hand to others that have a complex construction weave resulting in an interesting texture. We offer a pretty broad range of options in our color palette from the ‘must have neutrals’ to the occasional pop (laser red) and finally a mixture of rich and subdued color alternatives.
What are price points doing?
Price points in our collection are largely status quo from a year ago. Though there have been increases in fabric and material costs, the market landscape is still one which makes it difficult to pass along these price increases to the consumer. As a general trend, the middle price-points have been booking most briskly-this represents the frugality of the current shopper.
To improve our offer across price points, specifically for our collection we have added value with increased technology (water proofing/breathability and features) to try and capture this more conscientious consumer.
How have you responded to the current market and the decrease in prebooks?
Like we are doing in other product categories, we are ordering very close to what we pre-book and not ordering surplus stock of most styles. The exception would be in top sellers where we feel there will be enough re-order demand to deplete our stock prior to having to go to closeout. Allowing the demand side of the curve to catch up to the supply side is imperative to the health of the snow business right now.