Person being interviewed: Alex Zhao, Flow Boot Product Manager
What overall trends are you seeing in the boot market?
Well, besides the obvious trends like going super light weight, and custom lacing from all the brands we are also seeing a lot more co-labs with different shoe brands and material exploration to some extent. It's not easy with the rising costs but we have to be innovative to work around these issues and be competitive at the same time.
Has your approach to lacing systems evolved in the past few years? If so, how?
We've been strong partners with BOA for a very long time and we think it is a good system and people do love the convenience, so we don't think we'll part with that any time soon. We are also looking at the convenience of other lacing systems to give our customers a variety of choices. We updated our own Quickfit Lacing system and liner-lacing systems based on consumer feed back and we try to cater to their needs as much as we can.
What new construction techniques, technologies, or fabrics do you anticipate breaking out next year?
There have been a bunch of new innovations recently, everyone has their version of the uni-body construction, or one piece shell design that helps reduce weight and maintain durability. I think throughout the industry people are going to look for innovative ways to construct a boot that is less labor intensive and uses less materials, thus, saving us cost that we can extend to our customers. Flow introduced our BFT technology last year, which helps with durability, better flex and comfort. We believe that BFT technology will help our boots have an advantage when the consumer puts their feet into the boot. It just feels good.
What trends do you anticipate in the realm of graphics and colors?
Colors can be very difficult to nail down, but black is always a crowd favorite. We've always been focused on color combos that match our entire product line so we take some inspiration from boards or even bindings, but the main colors are poppy, bright color hits on a nice black boot with nice materials and attention to detail.
Have you seen any new trends in market segmentation?
Yes, we are seeing more and more softer boots hitting the market for jibbing, just an overall soft park boot that is also shorter and more skate influenced than what we've done before. We're also seeing a good amount of freeride back country guys that want the nice stiff boots with waterproofing and ultra light weight equipment.