Some see it as hype in a newly booming market, others say it’s a permanent niche, but either way, women were recognized by the industry this year. This meant products were abundant: fleece-lined bras, pro signature boards, boots with newly designed narrower molds, clothing that added hip room to those needing it and shaping those that don’t.
“Retailers didn’t need convincing that women wanted stuff,” says Kristen Roach, owner of Kurvz. “The receptiveness was incredible. Retailers knew they needed a women’s line, and it was just a matter of choosing which one.”
And there were choices. Nowhere was this more obvious than in clothing, which came in every color from wild variations of pink to the more familiar earth tones. Styles varied from the retro racing-stripe gas-station girl look to overalls that looked like baby-blue Osh Kosh’s for big kids. Technical clothes with seam sealing, Ultrex, and 1000 denier Cordura were just as popular as the pieces that flaunted faux furs and glossy glamour-girl finishes.
But many are still skeptical about the women’s products movement. Questions were raised about the need for women’s boards. Some wondered whether the boots were really going to be better for women, or if they were just a marketing ploy.
“Snowboarding is a sport,” says Molly Snowboard team rider Morning Star Ramsey. “When I’m on the hill, I’m an athlete. I need clothes that work, boards that are tough, and things that fit my riding ability.”
Jacki Difilippo, the marketing coordinator at Burton, is skeptical of the trendiness. “I’m not sure about the fluffy furry stuff,” says Difilippo, “and women are not into the hero worship like men are. They just need a board that works well for them.”
Women’s boards were plentiful, from short, soft boards with flowery patterns to personalized pro-models designed by some of the best women boarders.
“I can’t believe how many calls we’ve been getting every day about our boards,” says Michelle Barnas, team rider and co-owner of Pure snowboards for women. “I think that it’s great that the industry is catering to women. It’s only going to get better from here.”
“The women’s board we have for next year was designed by Shannon Dunn for a person with her size and style of riding,” says Difilippo. “It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman on that board. Boots are really going to be the most important technical advancement this year.”
Last year Burton attempted to create a women’s boot, however, they only changed the bladder, so the outside was still too wide. This year tight heel cups, narrow inners and outers, and a variety of styles will hopefully eliminate some of the past boot angst.
“If you think about it,” says Difilippo, “if you put a small bladder into a larger boot it won’t fit right. But put a small boot outer and bladder into a normal binding, and it will also be a wrong fit. Women really need to have the whole package.”
Mistakes are all a part of learning, and many people will find that like any first year, nothing is perfect the first time around.
“This year is a transition for a lot of trends,” says Kristen Roach, owner of Kurvz. “It was nice to see the variety, but people want more quality for their bucks rather than glamour. Good business sense and a good product will determine who sticks around.”