Jesse Grandkoski, General Manager, and Melissa Grandkoski, Design/Development Manager:
What are the three biggest trends you see shaping the market and what you are doing to meet them?
MG: I feel the biggest trend right now is technical street wear–gear that is between softgoods and outerwear. This category is huge for rail kids, but also important for all-mountain riders for use as technical layering. Expansion into this category is definitely on the books for 12/13. Women’s outerwear inspired by men’s styles, but tailored to a lady. Other trends I see making a come back are classy 70’s prints (paisley’s, florals, etc.) and og camouflage.
How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing in the years ahead?
JG: The economy has been poor, and most Buyers have had to become more conservative with their snowboard buy. But I think its important to do realize a few things in order to do this correctly. First, the customers who are not buying new outerwear are the weekend warriors who snowboard only as a hobby, not as a lifestyle. Secondly, customers who are buying outerwear are the core snowboarders–riders who snowboard as a lifestyle. They’ll give up a lot in life before they give up buying new outerwear! They wear their gear out, and their style evolves quickly–they’re not the conservative ones. So even though a “conservative buy” is in effect, a lot of smart specialty retailers are realizing that they need to buy strong for and from the core.
Has sales forecasting changed for your company? If so, how has it changed?
MG: Just pushing forecasting earlier than previous seasons.
JG: Yep, we’ve been doing a lot more buying based on projections. On the up side, as we evolve as a company, we have more sales history with specific styles and better overall data to base our projections on.
What lessons have you learned with bookings for this season and how will you apply those to next?
JG: We’ve learned that bookings for any style can be greatly aided or impeded by our color selections for that style. So, we’ve added additional color ways for each and every style in the line.
Have you changed your production or distribution models at all from last season? If so, why and how have you changed them?
JG: Nope. With the exception of a couple of amazing new Reps and Distributors, we have the same awesome Airblaster Reps and Distributors that we had last year, still kicking ass harder than ever.
How are you working with retailers to help ensure strong margins, the right amount of product in the marketplace, and terms that set them up for success?
JG: We’re helping out our retailers in two ways: 1) shipping product on time, and 2) delivering products that customers love to buy. These two things mean strong, early sell through. Early sell through means full margin, and that keeps retail shops healthy.
What fabrics, colors, fits, and technologies are you focusing on for next season?
MG: Vivid Orange, yellow, and camouflage are the hot colors/patterns of the season. We have put a lot of effort into women’s fits and silhouettes. Longer cuts and shaped waistlines are key for Airblaster women’s outerwear.
JG: Long-cut jackets. Slim and Boot cut pants. Color blocking that is classy, whether its wild or mild. Burnt Orange, North Atlantic. Introducing some awesome new technologies–a 3-Layer ripstop in outerwear, and an Outlast® flannel that is made of an exclusive / proprietary blend used only by Airblaster…
What are pricepoints doing?
JG: We’ve focused on offering value at every price point, though slight increases can be seen in many categories strictly based on manufacturing cost increases. Last season we held price points stable when most brands bumped theirs up– so we’re still behind the curve of the price increase. Also, we’re decreasing our own margin to help our retailers continue to grow with us. So, even though manufacturing costs are skyrocketing, we’re sharing the burden with our retailers and customers and offering premium products at great prices.
Are you taking any steps to minimize your environmental impact? If so, what are some of these steps?
JG: We’re using recycled materials wherever we have access to them. Most of the insulation in our outerwear and insulated mid layer is a 100% recycled plastic bottles–its called E-CO2y®. Also, offering natural / renewable resources such as Merino Wool that perform well and are completely eco friendly.
What’s in your crystal ball for 2012.2013?
JG: Your shop opening up a bigger buy for a company that delivers on time and sells through consistently. More Airblaster dollars.
What do you hope to contribute to snowboarding?
JG: 1) FUN! 2) Original Fun Products that keep you warm, dry, looking good… and that make it almost impossible not to have more FUN!
3) The perspective of a company owned and run by snowboarders.