INTERVIEWEE: BAPTISTE CHAUSSIGNAND – Snowboards & Bindings Product Line Manager
KEY PRODUCT FOCUS: Please pick the three most exciting boards from your new 17/18 line and tell us about them.
HILLSIDE COLLECTION – SICKSTICK: As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Sickstick, Salomon and Wolle Nyvelt will continue their tradition in shaping true powder boards.
Working in conjunction with Wolle, Salomon has contributed knowledge and design resources to the passion project AESMO, and in return with Wolle’s deep knowledge of shapes, construction, and skill have been applied to the 2017 Hillside collection with the new Sickstick as star product.
The Sickstick is a powder board but not only a powder board. It is also a truly versatile board that redefines freestyle riding in the backcountry and that can be ridden every day in every snow condition. For 2017-2018 it is back with 3 different shapes adapted to different terrains so you can find the perfect match for your riding style. This new Sickstick is sicker than before and is equipped with our best technologies adapted to powder riding, like the Rock Out Camber and Quadralizer sidecut.
Last but not least, the graphic design has been realized in collaboration with Jean Jullien, a French graphic artist currently living in Los Angeles. His practice ranges from illustration to photography, video, costumes, installations, books, posters and clothing to create a coherent yet eclectic body of work.
THE VILLAIN: This iconic freestyle weapon is new for 2017. Refreshed with a new shape, a new look and some major tech upgrade such as the new Quadralizer sidecut, all developed under the watchful eye of Louif Paradis.
Refreshing a product that flirts with perfection is a real challenge. So the best solution to do it was to ask Louif. The brief was simple: livelier, smoother, more pop. With this 2017 Villain it seems that we nailed it.
GYPSY: Navigating the park and side hits just got easier with our ladies freestyle whip of choice, the Gypsy. New for 2017, the Gypsy has also been renewed with our riders, Desiree and Nirvana. It features a new shape, Quadralizer sidecuts for an extended range of turning possibilities, and Slingshot sidewalls for more control, manoeuvrability and flex in the park. The Gypsy provides high performance for every rider, every condition, at any level.
Construction. Using any new inserts / edge tech / cores / sidewalls / glue / wood types / metals / bases / other materials? Or are you using this stuff in any new ways?
A few years ago Salomon Snowboards released the Equalizer sidecuts technology based on straight lines strategically placed between your feet for perfect mix of edge grip, agility and fun. Last year with the Ultimate Ride we improved this technology. The concept was simple, we reproduced the concept of Equalizer but with a Quadratic construction. No more straight lines. The benefit? As precise as Quadratic sidecuts but as fun and as agile as Equalizer. This new sidecut enables locked in arching carves to fast aggressive turns. It is the best of both worlds.
For 2017-2018 we bring this sidecut to more products such as the new Villain and the new Sickstick. This sidecut mixed with Rock Out Camber provides the best ratio on precision, playfulness and versatility.
Where will you build your boards, any changes? What makes this production facility the best solution for you?
For our 3 product lines, our number one focus is the quality delivered to final consumers. When we say quality, it means the performance, the durability, and the look. So we are closely working with our production partners to improve and deliver better products each year.
Where is the pricepoint that’s working the best right now? Right at the top, at the bottom, or somewhere inbetween?
We have a solid offer from rental to high end freestyle, freeride or touring board. So pretty much all pricepoints are working really well. But to be very precise, our 450 – 550€ boards are working the best. For example, The Villain, Assassin, Gypsy and Super 8 are best sellers.
How long is your warranty, anything new here?
Boards are a guaranteed 2 years. Nothing really new here except our Salomon Customer Service which every year develops specific competences to provide the best experience to our consumers.
We’re seeing a lot of small, grassroots snowboard brands getting traction again. How does this affect your brand, marketing & positioning?
It’s great to see small brands emerging, it definitively challenges us to be better, they bring a new and different approach to snowboarding and we all can benefit from a renewal in interest. It challenges our brand to be flexible and to act as fast as the grassroots brands do. Our positioning doesn’t change rapidly as we have a long-term goal and all our efforts are driven by it. But we can fine-tune the marketing to remain relevant to our consumer who is constantly evolving and can loose interest in a heartbeat.
What inspired your topsheet & base aesthetics? Where is the trend here – muted, flashy, photos, what? Any cool collabs/limited editions?
In terms of design, we are bringing fresh stuff from various horizons but for each design we make sure we provide super relevant graphic design in terms of value, story, detail and positioning. For example the new Villain has been fully worked with Louif Paradis from the shape, technologies and graphic design. The Final graphic design has been made by Laurent Grislain a French graphic designer working out Quebec City for ten years. Louif and Laurent first collaborated on the Déjà vu movie, and now together they present the all new Villain.
Also as mentioned above, the collaboration we made with French artist Jean Jullien on the Sickstick is the perfect way to give more personality to the final product.
Another big collaboration for us is on the Villain and Huck Knife Classicks. These two boards are designed by Eric Dressen and to get to work on a graphic with a legend like him is a dream come true. If you have ever touched a skateboard you know who he is, his impact on skateboarding is unrivaled and continues to this day. This season Eric brings his iconic style to two of our most bad ass boards. What could be more Classick than that ?
Finally, we are very proud to present the first coming of the “Gypsy by Desiree”. Desiree is pure creative energy. Whether she’s snowboarding, or making art, she is completely committed and pours everything she has into the task at hand.
Shops are asking for a two-year product life cycle to help sell boards on price longer. Any thoughts on this, or featuring any carryover boards in the line?
Some boards are carried over this year. For example, the Premiere, our 4 part Splitboard. We need to maintain prices at least 2 years on this kind of expensive products. Rental is also part of our carry over strategy because offering consistency is key on this market.
But for sure most of our boards are not carried over because we need to adapt our offer to all of our market, US, Europe, Asia.
Doing splitboards? What are you doing to push this segment forward?
For 2017, we are renewing our 2 parts splitboard. This new board, taking part in the Hillside project in collaboration with Wolle Nyvelt, will use exactly the same shapes as the Sickstick. So if you look for a super-efficient board on climbing mode and great riding shape on powder conditions, this is the go to.
Carried over this year, the Premiere, our unique and very innovative 4 parts splitboard is still part of the line. It features a bunch of great equipments. Plum hooks, Pomoca custom skins, super light core. It is also equipped with a binding interface that allows to mount all kinds of bindings: Spark, classic snowboard bindings, light alpine touring bindings (Dynafit, Plum, Salomon…).
We observe a bigger demand each year. Is it still quite small in terms of business, but it is growing. That’s why we keep developing and improving our touring offer with a unique Salomon DNA.