Glove Companies Explore New Opportunities

It’s a call all companies in the accessories niche are having to face. Do you continue to focus on a specific niche, such as gloves, or do you make a rush to join the ranks of the Da Kines and Bakodas and offer a one-stop multi-accessory line? The results were obvious at the SIA Show in Las Vegas last week when the entire industry got together to show off next year’s products.

The answer is easier for Drop than for others. The financial backing of parent-company Gordini provides a marketing budget described by Drop Team Manager Mer Van Roost, as “awesome, when you compare it to other companies.” This is enabling Drop to expand from its traditional niche as a strong glove brand, introduce an extensive pack line to its reps, and transform into an accessories company.

“Certainly it’s important for retail merchandising that we offer a collection,” says Van Roost. “But we’ll limit it to packs and gloves at the moment. The glove line is still rapidly evolving. Not only are we increasing the number of pipe gloves, but we are also reintroducing signature lines such as our Devun Walsh gloves.”

The coming season will be accessory provider Bakoda’s first in the glove market, as well as its first season offering bags and helmets. Product Director Kevin Royes has deliberately kept the glove line small.

“I really can’t see why other companies offer so many SKUS,” he says. “It seems you can cover all snow conditions with just three models, each available in either Gore-Tex or regular construction. But we knew we had to offer even a limited glove line. A retailer is usually going to a carry a couple of accessory lines that can provide product in all categories, and we want to be one of the handful of those lines. But there’ll also be room for companies that are specialized and focus on one specific product, such as a GMC.”

GMC has a decade-long history in the market, and with its ultra strong team continues to find its niche as a gloves-only line.

“Both retailers and consumers still recognize a specific focus has its advantages,” says GMC’s Sales Director Michelle Nelson. “We stay differentiated through our style, our team, and our ability to bring more technical features to the market for a better price.”

Although GMC has introduced a limited pack line this season, this is more of a merchandising feature to go along with its numerous tees and sweats.

Method Gloves show there is always someone who thinks they have something specific to offer. “We are sticking to gloves,” says President Brian Hoff. “Our aim is to find a place in the market by constantly offering improved quality and durability.”

And for either one-product or multi-accessory players, sometimes a couple of good ideas are all it takes to get a foot in the door. Last season Demon started to get noticed for its stomp pad that accepted a cable lock. This season its glove contains a compass and a thermometer and is helping the company get noticed at a new level.

Meanwhile, mega-accessory line Da Kine continues to grow. “Our glove business is about 40 percent of revenue, roughly equal to our pack sales,” says Marketing Manager Serene Palmatieri. “Glove sales are growing, especially as snowboard style increasingly colonizes the ski-glove category.

“But even as one of the biggest multi-accessory players our retailers might take two thirds of the categories in our line,” she continues. “This means they might be deep in our packs, but not carry our gloves. Even if they do, they’ll probably carry product from other multi-accessory companies and from other specialty players. Offering the complete package is important, but we have to fight in every one of the product categories we are in.”

¿Matthew Kreitman