Winter 2016/17 | Women's & Youth Trends in the Snow Market
Editors’ Note: The women’s and youth market within snowboarding are two of the most promising at the moment. Both have seen steady growth, marked by paralleled increases in overall participation. This year at SIA, we thought it fitting to take a look at what brands are doing across the board to expand and leverage these categories. Many companies seem to be speaking to an increased need for a more technical product without compromising on the aesthetics. TransWorld Busines contributor Rian Rhoe takes a more in-depth look at what this means for the snow sports industry. Check out our full roster of top trends here: transworldbusiness.com/trend-series
Gone are the days when snowboard companies were entirely run by guys and products were designed for their girlfriends. In the last decade there has been a significant shift away from the token girl team rider or employee and the number one trend at the SIA Snow Show for women's products was the evidence of authentic products built for women who ride. This played out in two ways. The first is the traditional way our industry has always stayed authentic: with rider-driven products. This was evident throughout all categories of products, from Jess Kimura's Danger Pony Pro Model at Capita, to The Kimmy [Fasani] backcountry pant at Burton, to Desiree Melancon's Smith Goggles. These are not "shrink it and pink it" products. They're not men's products with flowers on them. They are the legitimate manifestation of brands listening to their female riders.
In addition to female team rider driven product, the rise in brands employing and empowering female leadership across product, design and marketing departments has given rise to an increase in products that accurately address the needs of female riders. "We know the female consumer, so we pay extra attention to the details," says Dakine Outerwear Product Line Manager, Amy Eichner.
Core female riders are forging into the backcountry and looking for high performance products that fit their needs. Arbor introduced a new women's split board. Rome introduced the Winterland, with powder-specific camber. Women's splitboards were noticeable everywhere, from Jones and Burton to Nitro, K2, Never Summer and elsewhere. In Colorado, K2 Rep John Pinnick has noticed an increase in snowboarding moms and board sales for experienced riders. He attributes this to snowboarders who started during the big boom in the 90's getting back out on the snow after having kids. At Salty Peaks Snowboard Shop, Andy Schummer is seeing "more women interested in splitboarding and getting into the backcountry."
The female consumer of the future both prioritizes function, and is influenced by style. "Women want to look good and feel good on the mountain when they snowboard and show their personality. If you look good and feel good, you ride better," says winterwomen.com buyer Lora Buboltz.
Bibs are back with a vengeance. The utilitarian silhouette that dominated the 70's and 80's received a positive response from retailers at SIA. The approach to the bib is twofold: Brands are offering technical backcountry bibs with articulation, 3 layer fabrics, and design details attuned to the specific needs of riders in the backcountry. The 2nd approach to bibs is more street wear inspired. We saw stretch fabrics, a slimmer silhouette, work wear details and a nod to the rise of overalls for every day. At Dakine and Burton, rider-driven input from Annie Boulanger and Kimmy Fasani respectively, inspired their highly technical bibs for the backcountry. Volcom will offer a Gore-Tex bib to retail for $320.
At 686, the Black Magic overall in 15K stretch black denim was a showstopper with a functional, yet flattering fit. L1 will offer a slimmed up 4-way stretch bib version of their best-selling pant. Burton's 15K bib is a well-executed take on traditional work wear with a feminine fit and the muted camo bib at Dakine has a versatile appeal with quilted detailing appropriate for resort riding from Stowe to Big Bear.
In terms of color, Holden was showing neutral colors with a hint towards the bright side. A bright poppy color was well-executed at Holden and similar bright hues showed at 686, Billabong, Dakine and Roxy. Burton offered a wide variety of jewel tones. A predominate theme for women's prints was muted Camo, seen at Burton, Holden, Dakine, Ride and Volcolm as well as on K2 boots. Nature prints are also big for 16/17. Roxy outerwear blends the two trends with a muted floral camo. Volcom will offer a dark magical forest print, Burton, a dark woodsy floral, and Celtek takes floral to high performance levels with a Gore-Tex Mitt. Airblaster has a stellar palm frond print, and Nikita's prints are conceptually inspired by the origins of small batch coffee roasting and the origins of the beans.
Trims have taken a turn towards the bright. At Holden, a natural, materials based approach gives the garments an upscale yet outdoor-inspired feel. Bright pops of color and multicolor yarns were eye catching without distracting from the overall look. At Burton, iridescent materials and rose gold showed prominently throughout the line. This was also notable on key outerwear pieces at L1, and on bindings at Union. Shimmery copper fabric was shown at Billabong.
At Coal, Made in the USA felt styles are trending for women. Designer Jenn Long creates hyper feminine styles for the women's specific collection because she knows that many of the unisex styles are also selling to women. A cuffed beanie is a top style that knows no gender.
A gender neutral approach may have fallen on deaf ears a decade ago but taps into current youth culture and openly avoids taking a gendered stance with products. This worked well at accessories brands and at Lib Technologies, where the approach is that a snowboard doesn't know what's between your legs, it just knows how much you weigh, how big your feet are and how powerfully you ride. It's for this reason that they focus on waist width, and not gender. At Ashbury, they simply make different goggle frames to fit different face sizes, and continue to innovate their color palette with a healthy disregard for gender stereotypes.