Questions answered by Product Line Manager and Developer/Nike Snowboarding Boots, Steve Pelletier
What overall trends are you seeing in the boot market?
We have noticed that riders are moving towards softer flexing boots that offer more boardfeel than in the past. Also, we've seen liner foams getting softer as well, so boot brands are noticing the importance of out-of-box fit.
How has your approach to lacing systems evolved in the past few years?
At nike we only have regular lace boots at the moment. We offer a lace lock on a few of our models that offers zonal tightening on a regular lace boot - usually a feature only capable of being on a speed lace or BOA boot, so that's cool. So at the moment, no lacing systems, but you can bet we are working on a solution for the future.
What new construction techniques, technologies, or fabrics do you anticipate breaking out next year?
One big story for us will be the use of recycled PET bottle synthetic leather. We already don't use PVC in our boots, so stepping up to using recycled materials is huge for us. Right now we are looking at 60 to 70% recycled content in our boot material. Along with this, we have developed new water based solvents and a new peroxide free rubber compound that can have up to 30% recycled content - so we are trying to green up the industry one boot at a time.
Another thing we are working on is a Dynamic Adjustable Flex system in our boots. Inspiriation came straight from Gigi Ruf and was backed up by Eric Jackson and Johnnie Paxson, so we are hyped to introduce this new technology at SIA this year.
What trends do you anticipate in the realm of graphics and colors?
For us, we are always gonna have that Nike flavor. While we use graphics on our limited edition Quickstrike boots, most of the rest of the line is filled out with classic textures and nike heritage. You'll see some stuff that links straight back to our outerwear, while other colorways will be heavily influenced by our riders. Of course we'll have classic Nike materials and colors, and we always have one that will exude that Jordan swagger.
Have you seen any new trends in market segmentation?
Not really. Other than boots getting a little bit softer than in the past and brands catering to that trend, boots have been pretty stagnant as far as tech and lacing in the last few years, with a couple exceptions of course. One area I think that could be explored further is boots made specifically for the urban snowboarder rather than boots with a focus on mountain riding. I could elaborate more on where I think the whole boot industry might head in the next couple years, but I don't want to give away any plans... let's just say I think your feet will be happy in the years to come...