Bonfire Hosts Retailer Roundtable

On June 18–20, Bonfire Snowboarding invited seven key retailers to its hometown of Portland, Oregon for a sneak peek and no-holds-barred discussion of the 2001/2002 line.

Attendees included Calvin Egbert of Milo Sport in Salt Lake City; Bruce McGregor of Level in Vancouver, B.C.; David Sher of Mountain And Surf in Sacramento, California; Sean of Castle Snowboards in Portland, Oregon; Chris Millard of Snow And Rock in London, England; Sandra Rossi of Blades and Boards in New York City; and Yasuo Owada from Stormy in Tokyo, Japan. Bonfire team riders Minna Hesso, David Benedek, Kyle Clancy, Jason McAlister, and Arlie Carstens also gave pages of feedback.

And feedback was especially important for the roundtable, since Bonfire is slowly developing a new streetwear collection, dubbed Metro, which could signal a major turning point for the brand.

Bonfire’s mainstays — the Platinum, GT, Gold, and Silver lines — received high praise, but Director of Marketing Ben Pruess was kept on his toes with questions about why Bonfire shuns Gore-Tex, its (mostly muted) color palette, the size and placement of logos, and the viability of a few new features — such as a semi-transparent material used along the periphery of a hood. Plenty of good feedback to ponder over.

But the Metro line produced the strongest reactions, and some of the Bonfire designers would’ve been well advised to leave their egos at the door. The muted, clean styling of the jackets and the use of a chicken as line icon had many retailers scratching their heads.

“We think Metro will gives us a chance to grow Bonfire without broadening our distribution to everyone under the sun,” said Pruess to the retailers. “By no means are we at capacity with our outerwear program, but what we’ve heard is that riders want to wear Bonfire off the hill as well. We think this will allow them to do that without changing who we are as a brand.”

Pruess added that the Metro pieces shown were early prototypes and serious tinkering would follow the roundtable. “There’s potential, but they have a long way to go,” says Rossi, who left the roundtable impressed with the outerwear but underwhelmed with Metro.

Others thought the entire process was helpful. “I’m sure I learned more from the meeting than they did by having me there,” says Egbert. “I never considered how far out they have to work on a line. I think they were somewhat receptive to our feedback. It’ll be interesting to see whether our suggestions come to fruition.”