What are the three biggest trends you see shaping the market and what you are doing to meet them?
- Classic pieces. New takes on old school styles, our archive is always a rich source of inspiration.
- Workwear is a continuing trend, with functional features influencing the fabrics & styling details.
- Consumer influenced functionality. We're testing all our new fits with riders, incorporating practical features in garments. In order to get this input we're improving our website and social media communication.
How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing in the years ahead?
I think the economic situation that continues means that the customer is being really careful about where they spend the cash in their pocket. For us at Westbeach, this season we have concentrated on getting all of the details right and to the highest possible standard within our price points. We want to be able to tick every box in the customer's wish list. We know that to stand up to our competitors we have to make product that will potentially be the customer's single purchase this season, where as previously they may have invested in one or two items.
Has sales forecasting changed for your company? If so, how has it changed?
We are lucky to have growing markets in certain areas of the world thus meaning our orders are balanced out for the slower moving territories elsewhere. However, we are also being cleverer with how and what we order from the outset. This has come from more in depth and accurate forecasting, teamed with more careful negotiations at production than we have ever implemented previously.
What lessons have you learned with bookings for this season and how will you apply those to next?
We learned that our "limited supply" offers really appeal to the customer and therefore we will be extending these this time round. We are concentrating mostly in areas such as the new Yaletown range, which is a higher end, fashion driven area, and offers the customer something more exclusive. We have worked with great graphic designers this season to produce limited edition prints on our outerwear giving more variety for the customer to seek out.
Have you changed your production or distribution models at all from last season? If so, why and how have you changed them?
Westbeach have always offered a large amount of bright colors and print options. In recent seasons, this offer had grown to so many color combos we felt the need to strip it down to a more concise color palette. This enables stores to merchandise the range more easily, and also allows us more control over the amounts of fabrics we are developing.
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?
The usual deal, where stores have strong credit and back us we stand by them with generous terms.
What fabrics, colors, fits, and technologies are you focusing on for next season?
This season we have introduced a Backcountry range - it's our highest performance product yet. It features the innovative Cocona Breathable and Waterproof technology. The capsule range consists of a zip-out bib pant, and connecting lightweight jacket with waterproof YKK zippers and open ventilation for fast heat release. A first layer and sock in the same game changing fabric range will keep the joy level on high in the worst and most extreme conditions.
Our Cambie Down coat was a big hit last season, so we've reworked this in a soft finish multi tone twill and added in a Women's version, the Bayshore Puffy. Furthermore, we have collaborated with Toronto based brothers Andrew and Matt McCracken whose Design company 'Doublenaut' produce music posters and all round awesome graphics which we've been a fan of for a while. Working with us they created a print inspired by outback wildlife, which we have used as a lining in these Puffy jackets. Also, there will be a limited edition range of graphic t-shirts to go with this range.
We've seen our slim fits do increasingly well the last few seasons, so we've developed these further this time round. Also, we know how much an important fit is on our women's wear range and we've paid special attention to our women's slim fit pant. We've tried and tested many development protos, and we've ended up with a perfect fit that we're stoked with.
As mentioned before, focusing on the smaller details we've added helmet hoods to some of our jackets. This season we have developed a new ergonomic powder skirt, that fit's longer around the back – it's tried and tested and works much better. Team this with the GCS loops on the pants that are now all fixed into seams and the combo will be more durable than ever.
Our color palette has classic core colors such as Clamato Red and Blue Ice, neutrals have taken a military influence with Commando Green and Pargnar Tan. We have vivid highlights of Apri-Acid Orange and Poison Lime green throughout our classic lines.
Our Yaletown range features Red Plaid checks and our all new robust denim fabric. Marled wool look fabrics are mixed with work wear canvas textures giving deceptively texture-rich garments with no compromise on performance as none of our Outerwear fabrics rate below 10k/10k waterproof and breathability.
What are pricepoints doing?
Pricing is a constant challenge especially, as mentioned before, we always aim to offer great value for money on our products. This year we did well and created a line which hits mid level price points where it really matters for our core customers. We either aim to keep the core product pricing steady or push to lower the RRP's where possible. However, to keep the brand evolving with higher end technologies, we have introduced some limited higher performance product for those who can afford it and who want the best.
Are you taking any steps to minimize your environmental impact? If so, what are some of these steps?
We have taken every effort to plan ahead to the very last detail with our fabrics, trims and production ensuring we have limited wastage on the range itself. For anything that does happen to be left, we always find a way to use up eventually - it may be in accessories or promo items for example. We also try to not take unnecessary overseas trips - there are some that are a necessity to what we do - but on a whole, the company advocates video and conference calls thanks to the wonderful Skype. Internally we are big supporters of the Bike to Work scheme - there are days when we actually have too many bikes to store!
What are you doing to promote the growth of snowboarding and the next generation of riders (making kids gear, offering educational programs, etc.)?
Despite not having the huge budgets of the super brands we do our best to support up and coming riders to give them the much needed stepping stone they need to further their career. We have a tiered program of sponsorship as with most brands and also try to offer them help and advice along the way along with management of their career to help get them up to that next level. We are proud to say we have seen many a young rider pass through our doors and go on to further successes. As far as promoting the growth of snowboarding we run a competition series every year which is there to showcase the talent around at that time but also introduce the younger, newer kids into the world of the fun snowboard competition, pushing their riding and attracting spectators to come and check out the sport.
What's in your crystal ball for 2013/2014?
Optimism! Lots of snow and good times!
What do you hope to contribute to snowboarding?
To create garments that become an essential part of the best times of your life. When you remember that awesome season, remember a little bit of us in there too.