While Rip Curl is known for its famous surf campaign The Search, its not as well known for making snowboard clothing. However, the company has been making snow wear for ten years, starting on its home turf of Australia, and now is getting more serious about its U.S. program as well.
Larry Hart, a recent Wave Rave employee and longtime snowboarder, was hired in May to run the snow-apparel division. He says he sees a bright and steady future for winter products at Rip Curl: “I expect us to casually grow the interest in the snow market.” Yet Hart is aware that the company has built its reputation around surfing.
“Our focus is that we’re a surfing company, creating quality products for water environments, whether it’s frozen water or not,” Hart continues. “But we start and end with surfing.”
He says the company’s surfing background gives it leverage in the market. “We’re one of the top-three surfing brands in the world. People know the quality of our wetsuits and we’ll filter that into the snow wear.”
Of course, the company is not starting from scratch. “Rip Curl is positioned well with the free-ski market and is positioned okay for snowboarding,” he says. “Temple Cummings is the flagship rider for snowboarding. He rides in the Northwest where the weather is tough, and the clothing holds up.”
The winter apparel is technical and features all the bells and whistles. The company’s Search line features Entrant GII while its NFE line uses gelanots GC, a proprietary waterproof-breathable fabric. The lines also feature seam sealing, leg vents, bar tacking (a heavy duty start to seams), full-drop-seat zippers, internal powder skirts, internal goggle pockets, fleece-lined collars, and pit zips. The company also offers technical layers including shorts, tops, bottoms, fleece, and first layer clothing.
To build strength in the market, Rip Curl has a different relationship with its reps than traditional snowboard brands. “We offer better commission points, have a lower sample bill, and give reps the opportunity to grow with an upward surging company,” says Hart. “Plus they have the chance to travel internationally to see Rip Curl Australia some day.”
The company has definitely made an investment into the mountain sports. Rip Curl currently sponsors skiers Brad Holmes, Will Burks, and Silver Chesak, and snowboarders Temple Cummings, Paul Elkins, Jayson Onley, and Jeff Pettit, among others. It also sponsors the annual World Heli Challenge at Wanaka, New Zealand. This year the contest will run July 26 to August 9 and features technical big-mountain riding, a freestyle expression session, and a Chinese downhill.
One thing’s for sure, with the new management, Rip Curl will take a new position in the snow-wear market. And the company believes it can capitalize on the blurring lines between the end users. “Our view of the mountain-wear clothing is that the market is less segregated between skiing and snowboarding now, and we make our clothes for both,” says Hart. Indeed, the search continues at Rip Curl, this time leading further into the winter-sports market.