It's often said that passion is the creator of innovation, and the mother of change. There’s a contagious effect amongst the peers of the passionate that many times can lead to great things.
So when the snowboarding world got word that two passion-fueled brands backed by mavericks of snowboarding’s establishment were developing an entirely new snow industry tradeshow, we needed to understand the motivation behind the concept.
Joe Suta from Nightmare Snowboards and Steven Kimura from Owner Operator/United Shapes realized what many have often boldly whispered when it comes to the current health of the industry: "Snowboarding isn't just some dusty corner of the sporting goods world," said Kimura. "Snowboarding is what we dream about and get up to work on every day."
After perusing the landscape of Parts & Labor, the event was just that: a visual of the “dream-turned-job” lifestyle that many entrepreneurs in the space live, breathe, and bleed.
The roughly 50 brands exhibiting reverberated the same sentiment: "Parts & Labor is a refreshing opportunity to show the line, find distributors, and talk to retailers outside of our regional focus," said Common Apparel Owner and Founder Nate Blomquist. Common Apparel is based out of Duluth, Minnesota. The brand has a heavy streetwear focus that seems ideal for Minnesota riders as well as a particular international rider. But Blomquist knew that finding retailers outside of the immediate Midwest meant he needed something like P&L that paired Common Apparel with similar brands to attract like-minded partners.
The show also provided a financially responsible opportunity for brands who otherwise would not have attended a winter tradeshow. "It's financially unrealistic for most snowboard companies to justify the costs of what it takes to look reasonably professional in a format like SIA, and most of the brands at our show were deciding between showing at P&L and just staying home," said Parts & Labor’s Kimura.
The exhibitors who stood out at Parts & Labor were specialty brands with a focus on a niche segment of the snowboarding market thanks to a strong following in their local region.
Templeton, a brand out of Fussen, Germany, showed their impressive line of streetwear-inspired outerwear for the first time in the US. The brand's CEO, Marinus Schuster said Templeton was originally created to give himself and his friends something cool to wear on their local hill–a story that rings true for most brands in our space.
Needless to say, Templeton's popularity grew in the area, but reaching outside of the region proved difficult. Schuster said the show has introduced him to several distributors and even some team riders that could provide an opportunity to grow the brand outside of Germany.
Kimura echoes this mentality when initially discussing the motivation behind creating Parts & Labor: "[The show is] small, but you want to meet everybody in the room. We designed the space such that the products will be able to speak for themselves. P&L allows for the best ideas, not the most expensive booths, to make the biggest impression."
In terms of trends, small brands seemed to be the loudest when it came to nimble innovation in their lines. Streetwear inspiration in both apparel and board graphics was ubiquitous among all brands. Art and snowboarding went hand-in-hand at Parts & Labor, and everything from the show's layout to the brands visual representation backed up this purposeful focus.
We gathered some of the best snapshots of brands, product, and aesthetics from Parts & Labor's debut show in Denver, Colorado.