Homeschool: 2012/13 Outerwear Preview

Anvil 3.5 Layer Shell Jacket in Crater ($375) with Transmission 3.5 Layer Pant in Battle ($300)

Zodiac Insulator Jacket in Moss ($150), Destroyer Jacket in Night ($225), with Rerevolver 2.5 Layer Cargo Pants in Phantom ($300)
Danny Clancey / Founder / Creative Director

Daniel Clancey

What are the three biggest trends you see shaping the market and what you are doing to meet them?
I think people are thinking harder about how they spend their money and this plays into what we are doing.  Our product is durable and works here in the Northwest were conditions can be gnarly.  Our product, especially our 3.5 Layer stuff holds up really well to abuse and will last multiple seasons.  It’s always gonna be cheaper to buy quality, and we think that message resonates with our customer base.

Another trend is the focus on solids and away from wild prints, we as a brand like to keep the action on the inside on linings etc and focus on really good solid colors on the outside that won’t get stale and pair up with lots of other colors. Again, it plays well into the type of brand we are we focus on an understated style with the idea that you don’t have to scream at your consumer.

Technology that works and is less gimmicky is something I’m seeing more of as well, or maybe it’s just that you see what you chose to see.. but it’s been a big focus of ours.  Less hype, more of what works.

How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing in the years ahead?
The Market has changed a lot over the last several years.  A lot of core shops have gone out of business which bums me out.  the independent shop has always been the soul and backbone of our industry, so we do whatever we can to support those guys who are still carrying the torch.  Also, consolidation in the industry has changed the landscape, with fewer small brands around it’s up to us to keep things fresh and constantly come up with ways to focus retailers on the things that matter. The Manufacturing situation in Asia has become a huge challenge as well, with capacity being gobbled up by the big guys and labor and materials costs going up dramatically. This makes  it real tough to keep our margins while still keeping everyone happy.  The manufacturing system and structure is definitely focused on the bigger players.  We’ve been fortunate to have some real good partners helping us produce a quality product and get it out there..but it’s a constant struggle.  I see the manufacturing and retail environments changing dramatically over the next few years.

Has sales forecasting changed for your company?  If so, how has it changed?
Being a small company forecasting hasn’t changed a whole lot for us, we are ordering to demand and then enough to cover at-once and online business.

What lessons have you learned with bookings for this season and how will you apply those to next?
It was our first year, so we learned a ton, but also wanted to start small to make sure we could deliver on time, which we did. For year two we are hiring  a few reps to help grow the brand.

Have you changed your production or distribution models at all from last season?  If so, why and how have you changed them?
Our distribution channel is remaining the same since we are only in our second year, so we will continue to only open specialty brick and mortar and specialty online retailers.

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? 
We understand terms are extremely important to retailers, so we give them 12/1 dating no matter if they take the goods 8/15 or 10/15. Being a small brand we have inventory to fulfill at once business, but aren’t flooding the market with off-price goods.

What fabrics, colors, fits, and technologies are you focusing on for next season?
For our second season we really are just “evolving” what we’ve already done by focusing on what works.  Really good fabrics, technology and fit.  We aren’t trying to re invent the wheel, just re focus  snowboard outerwear back to the things that we think guys who ride a lot really care about.  Style, tech without looking “tech” and not a lot of “fluff” . We like to say it’s “clean and mean” and that idea carries through for our second season.  Our Color palette is definately a bit more sophisticated and merchandises really well with everything we are doing.  Our prints are on the inside and we pop the details alot.  We have gotten a ton of positive feedback on our fit and it is squarely in the middle, not too big and not slim.  Our stuff is made for snowboarding.

What are pricepoints doing?
They are largely staying the same for year two but it’s been a challenge not passing along the increases in material costs and labor we are facing. As a brand we don’t have an entry level pricepoint because we feel it’s a race to the bottom and we can’t compete. Our product is really a better /best scenario and we like to sell to retailers that get that.

Are you taking any steps to minimize your environmental impact?  If so, what are some of these steps?=
I think the best way to reduce impact is to consume less.  If you buy a quality product it will last multiple seasons and you won’t need to buy it as often and thats what our outerwear, particularly our 3.5L stuff, is designed to do. Really burly fabric, good technology and timeless colors.  Our 3.5 Layer product also happens to be 100% recycled polyester.

What's in your crystal ball for 2012-2013?
I think it’s gonna dump.

What do you hope to contribute to snowboarding?
As a new brand we really want to get snowboarders hip to the idea of why breathability is important.  Alpine guys get it, but snowboarders have really focused on waterproofness and thats only half the story.  Making something waterproof is easy..garbage bags are waterproof,  Breathability is hard so we have been focusing a lot on Cocona technology.  I think a snowboard industry without small brands would be one that really is missing something.  I don’t want to live in a world where only big brands can exist. Homeschool Snowboarding is the real deal, we aren’t backed by a larger company and we have gotten to this point by our firm belief that the product matters.  I think people get what we are trying to do and are pulling for us. I want to succeed as a brand to prove it can be done and show people that you can do something that has meaning and isn’t just about trying to hit a price point and sell something.

What new technologies are you introducing to your line?
We are using Cocona Xcellerator technology and we are the first snowboard brand to do so. Cocona uses activated carbon from Coconut shells to dramatically reduce dry time and increase breathability on average 40-60% more than anything we have tested against.  We do this in a top to bottom scenario of baselayer, Midlatyer and shell creating the “trifecta” or “holy trinity” of breathability.  Another first for our industry.

What trends do you anticipate in the realm of graphics, prints, themes, and colors?
I’m seeing a lot more solids out there and the print technology has really come a long way.  Full sublimation prints and new ways of printing are getting really sophisticated.  I’m constantly getting my mind blown about what is possible.  If you can think of it and are willing to take a risk  it can probably be done. Every time I think prints are stale I see something that blows my mind.