Questions answered by Burton Chief Creative Officer Greg Dacyshyn
What are the three biggest trends you see shaping the market and what you are doing to meet them?
1. Outdoor/Mountaineering: This type of styling, especially the vintage outdoor look, is a big trend. For our 2014 line, we dedicated two design silos to this trend – one in women's called Neon Native and one in men's called High Camp. The mountaineering style is a natural fit for Burton and was really fun to implement into the 2014 line. In both of these silos we looked to traditional outdoor styling for inspiration on silhouettes, pocket placements and zipper details. Then, we updated the look with vibrant hues, tribal prints, natural camos and tech materials to keep the line uniquely Burton.
2. Color blocking: This is a strong trend in both men and women's fashion as well as men's streetwear. Although it is not our first year to have this popular trend in our line, we have introduced some really new and fresh takes on color blocking in our 2014 collections. Examples of this are in the Men’s Frontier Jacket from the Rustic Pioneer collection and the Women's Aurora Jacket from the Woodland Spirit collection.
3. Ethnic prints: Ethnic prints are still trending well, and this influence can be seen in both our women's and men's collections – from Guatemalan and Scandinavian inspired prints and Serape and Ombre stripes, to traditional Chimayo motifs on trims.
How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing in the years ahead?
For men, the heritage look is slowly evolving into more vintage work wear looks and hunting stylings with an emphasis on large, dimensional pocketing, buttons and leather details. The look is becoming more streamlined with less bellows at the pockets. Crisper fabrications with a little more sheen are also prevalent.
Our 2014 women's collection is experiencing a similar evolution as some of the newest looking styles are direct take downs from the men's heritage look, but executed in a women's cut.
Has sales forecasting changed for your company? If so, how has it changed?
Burton’s commitment to scarcity & sell thru over the past several years has pushed us to evolve our forecasting processes more than ever to assure that we’re delivering product to the marketplace on time, that we have key items in stock in the marketplace at the right time and that we sell thru and create appetite for more new products in future season. This means that we’re gathering forecast data from sales reps and dealers more than ever before – both before, during and after the preseason. It also means we’re collaborating with our demand planning and finance teams more than ever to assure that we’re all focused on common goals and are aware of the marketplace realities – all year long. It’s a constantly evolving process and we’re constantly looking for opportunities to get better and more accurate.
What lessons have you learned with bookings for this season, and how will you apply those to next?
This season we learned that no matter how scientific and calculating a process can become sometimes you just have to trust your gut and listen to your reps and dealers… Based on our gut intuition, as well as feedback from reps and dealers we took some early positions on key products and it paid off for Burton and for our dealers; AK outerwear, tech apparel, pop colors + special collaborations in hardgoods come to mind. Moving forward we’re going to continue to focus on being scarce overall with a keen eye on supplying key initiatives to drive incremental and early sales.
Have you changed your production or distribution models at all from last season? If so, why and how have you changed them?
We were able to shift some of our production earlier this year than in previous years due to some aggressive early season showings. This allowed us to get a great head start on our cycle and keep nimble during the "busy season" in Asia. Getting those orders and production started early allowed us to make some very strategic moves as we entered the dog days of July/August. It has definitely paid off as we had one of our best delivery seasons ever for Winter 13. We were also very aggressive on our inventory positioning this cycle. Getting that jump start on the right mix allowed us to go lighter on our later PO's (once we figured out Mother Nature was playing such a nasty trick on us last year).
How are you working with retailers to help ensure strong margins, the right amount of product in the marketplace, and terms that set them up for success?
In core winter hardgoods and outerwear categories a successful balance of scarcity & sell thru will always improve everyone’s margin performance. For the most part the less prior year product you have out there the more value and margin the new gear will provide for our dealers. On the other side of the equation we realize that being too scarce in some categories can challenge our dealers' ability to meet their sales targets throughout winter season. Therefore, we’re getting better at working with our dealers to assure that we have adequate supply of key accessory products to supply their sales needs throughout the entire winter season. We have also been successful working with key dealers to get early order and early visibility on their product needs which has allowed us to plan their assortments earlier in the production timelines and be more reactive as needed to other dealers' needs later in the season. This has been a huge win for all parties and will be a continued focus for us moving forward.
What fabrics, colors, fits, and technologies are you focusing on for next season?
1. Fabrics: Simple fabrics are trending in general. Styles in the 2014 Burton Heritage line feature fabrics that have a peached hand and more matte finishes, 60/40 qualities, plain weaves, twills, etc. For 2014 outerwear and apparel, we stayed on trend with fabric details and linings that include corduroy, chambray and pinstripe qualities.
For our outdoor styles, the fabrics are crisp and have more sheen with textures that include ripstop, plain weaves and faille. Prints are making a come back with the focus on blurred photographic images, watercolor effects, plus ethnic Southwest, Chimayo and Scandinavian prints. Traditional plaids have been replaced with stripes and a few very simple micro plaids.
2. Colors: For the men's collection, the focus is on bright colors inspired by camping equipment from the 1970's, tempered with traditional workwear colors. For women's styles, there's a crisp almost nautical feel to a lot of the colors, in addition to a traditional palette inspired by vintage National Parks blankets which are so timeless, rugged and cool.
3. Fits: Although we offer a variety of different fits, in general the 2014 collection is longer, leaner and cleaner. Ease of movement for the rider in these narrower silhouettes is achieved through very subtle articulation to create a flattering and tailored outerwear collection that allows riders to move and feel good on the hill.
NEW Aquapel™: Offered in our youth Minishred outerwear line (sizes 2T-7/8), Aquapel is an eco-friendly hydrocarbon polymer that attaches hydrophobic whiskers to the fabric fibers to help elevate liquids, causing water to easily bead off fabric. Overall, it is a more durable and stain-resistant fabric repellency.
Primaloft™: Primaloft is used across the AK line to provide warmth without the weight, bringing a higher level of performance to our pinnacle product.
Heat Cycle™: Heat cycle is a body infrared (IR) fabric technology found in the lining fabric of select men's and women's styles in the Burton line. The fabric reflects body warmth through carbon-infused activation back to the body in focused locations while still allowing full breathability and comfort.
Mapped Waterproofing – Found in men's styles, we mapped enhanced waterproofing in specific key locations of our jackets that bear the most wear against the elements, ultimately offering superior protection in any weather condition.
X-Static/Anti-Microbial – Creating the most comfortable climate within our men's and women's jackets, we have combined our 3M X-Static Insulation (Silver Fiber™ Technology) located within high perspiration zones, with our new Anti-Microbial Knit technology. These will work hand-in-hand to wick moisture, kill any sweat/odor bacteria relieving stink, while keeping fabric membrane pores free and clear from clogging. This new technology allows for maximum breathability for the life of the jacket.
Are you taking any steps to minimize your environmental impact? If so, what are some of these steps?
We've been on the recycled bottle (rPet) tip for almost a decade but have now taken it to the next level by injecting more sustainable product into a variety of our collections for 2014. This evolution has allowed us to move forward with a huge partnership with bluesign® while continuing our great collaboration with Mountain Dew and the Green Mountain Project collection. We now have fulltime people dedicated to sustainability and each season we get a little smarter and a little better with our footprint… we've made solid eco-friendly strides and look forward to many more down the road.
What are you doing to promote the growth of snowboarding and the next generation of riders (making kids gear, offering educational programs, etc.)?
At Burton, we invest more in growing snowboarding for the next generation of riders than any other company out there – both through our vast youth collections to our youth educational programs. To help the smallest kids have a positive experience learning to ride at a super young age, we're creating more and more 'Riglet Parks', named after our 'Riglet Reel' that attaches to the nose of a snowboard so kids can be towed around. Riglet Parks use terrain-like mini halfpipes and little rollers to help kids get the feel for snowboarding, and we're working with resorts all over the world to expand this super successful program. We even have mobile Riglet Parks that we're touring around cities in the US, Europe and Japan to give young urban kids the chance to experience snowboarding.
As far as outerwear specifically, we offer hundreds of SKUs of outerwear, tech apparel and accessories in youth and Minishred (2T to 7/8) sizing. Our youth outerwear is inspired straight from the fabrics, trims and patterns of men's and women's outerwear collections to meet the expectations of younger riders aspiring for greatness or just a great day. And our Minishred softgoods make sure the little ones don't just embrace winter, but thrive in it. Styled to make kids proud and armed with DRYRIDE Durashell™ fabrics treated with NEW Aquapel DWR, this outerwear will stand strong from the mountain to recess and back again. And when kids grow an inch, Burton's Room-to-Grow™ keeps pace.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced rider, it is our goal to keep you in comfort on hill for the best snowboarding experience possible.
What's in your crystal ball for 2013/2014?
Looking forward, I think we’ll continue to see momentum around the Americana trend, but it will go beyond classic workwear, and into more vintage western. Think early Clint Eastwood style, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and the classic genre of spaghetti westerns that came out in the mid-60’s. The style was SO BAD ASS! It was all about lots of ponchos and patchwork, heavy duty buckles, blankets and an overall feel of bomber fabrics and trims that were built to last. That’s what I think is coming, and I say bring it on.
What do you hope to contribute to snowboarding?
Well of course I’d love to play Snow God and make it dump for everyone. That would be VERY COOL. But if I can’t make that happen, then it’s all about staying the course on our commitment to support dealers and riders at the highest level possible, by providing them with the best product, backed by the best marketing, service and retail support we can.