Vans Snowboarding Days returned for its fourth edition, this time to the Austrian resort of Axamer Lizum, right on Innsbruck’s doorstep. Vans invited key retail and media partners to join the global Vans snowboarding and management teams for two days of shredding, product presentations and much more. Vans work on four pillars: action sports, music, street culture and art and each of the four components were on show over the two days as the brand pulled back the curtain to allow media and retailers a first hand experience of the brand. We were treated to riding with some of the greatest snowboarders on the planet during the day, sharing beers each evening while getting to grips with next year’s snowboard boot line and accompanied by a soundtrack of live performances from music ambassadors with a live art mural creation by pro-snowboarders-turned artists.
We have a full gallery of images from Vans Snowboarding Days 2018 in our One Eyed Monster gallery, which comes directly after our interview with Vans Global Category Manager for Snow, Matt Patti below. Also be sure to check out our One Eyed Monster gallery from the global premiere of Vans’ first ever feature length snowboarding movie, LANDLINE. here.
For 18/19 Vans have refined their snowboard boot category, telling less stories to allow for easier explanation to retailers and ultimately, the end consumer. Matt gives us an in depth explanation of their new ‘line architecture’, aptly named the Diamond, with three new tiers of boot component features (liner, footbed and outsole) combined with a new four tiered segmentation system, starting with their youth models (renamed JUVIE for 18/19), to OG through to PRO up to the TOP SHELF, which is the pinnacle of their snowboard boot line in terms of tech under the hood.
We sat down with Matt after shred day two and right before their global movie premiere and he gives some great business insight while explaining their reasons for updating their line architecture. Matt’s an innovator; having been at Vans for a couple of years now, he’s already an integral part of the snow team and his commitment to product development ensures Vans are staying at the sharp end of the snowboard boot industry.
Could you explain the diamond segmentation graph from your presentation on product strategy?
The intention of the Diamond is to add a visual cue to the updated line architecture that Vans is implementing for the 2018/19 season. The updated line architecture showcases the framework that Vans is using to simplify how we both think and talk about our snowboard boot product line. The primary objective of this strategy is to create clearly defined product levels allowing Vans to easily communicate the consumer’s possible boot choices through relevant buying information based on user benefits, needs and wants, such as spec features rather than just price points.
The Diamond contains four spec levels:
The TOP SHELF level defines Vans’ most customizable, technically advanced, and performance-focused product. The Top Shelf product includes the Infuse, Verse and Sequal, which are all built with Vans’ top level V3 component set of liners, footbeds and outsoles. Top Shelf boots also offer additional customization features such as the Hybrid Plus System and the Vans Flex Control System, which include removable high-rebound tongue stiffeners.
Next is Vans’ PRO SPEC level, which is defined by innovative and functional team-tested technologies with elevated comfort features. In the Pro Spec line you find the men’s Implant Pro, Aura Pro and Hi-Standard Pro, and also the women’s Ferra Pro and Encore Pro. In addition to our V2 component set, riders are afforded the customization of a removable and asymmetrical X-Cage, which allows for customized heel hold placement.
The third, OG – ORIGINALS SPEC level features classic Vans styles, backed by proven performance and comfort features. The Hi-Standard OG is our best-selling model in brand history and is always a team rider favourite. This level comes complete with a V1 component package and Vans’ brand new V1 Waffle Lug outsole which is a single piece rubber cup that includes improved traction and the classic Vans vulcanized look.
Rounding out the new 2018/19 Vans snowboard boot line architecture, the BASE MODEL & YOUTH presents Vans quality at a great value to turn beginners and kids into brand believers. Here you’ll find our Youth Model renamed the JUVIE for fall 2018.
You’re also going to be telling less stories – could you explain your thinking there?
For the 2018/19 season, Vans is introducing product franchises in conjunction with the new-tiered line architecture strategy. The new line architecture hasn’t cut out any models, instead we’ve eliminated some previous model names and placed boots into relative closure system categories. One example would be in the Men’s Lace category that previously offered the V66, Hi-Standard and Mantra. Vans has now combined the naming conventions into one Hi-Standard family of products that is sub-categorized by the SPEC levels described above. The Vans V66 has become the Hi-Standard Pro, the Hi-Standard is now the Hi-Standard OG and the Mantra is the Hi-Standard. The same consolidation can be seen in Men’s Boa product with the Aura franchise and also on the Women’s line with the Encore.
The principal strategy of the new line architecture is to focus Vans story telling around similar lacing system products that are clearly separated by feature sets. Rather than a need to explain a product story for three different models, we can now streamline the discussion by defining what the Hi-Standard boot is, and then break down the feature sets using Vans’ newly defined V-Series component packages.
“The snowboard boot category at VANS is experiencing a sharp growth spike and the purpose of both the line architecture and franchising is to build our program into a more sustainable offering that is both simple to sell and simple to shop.”
It’s important that retailers are able to communicate the intentions of the Vans snowboard boot line to the consumer, and that consumers are able to find their way into the right products for themselves. Vans’ goal is to simplify and help guide the process so that the experience with our brand is easy and enjoyable, from shopping to shredding.
Tell us more about your new V-Series components.
The V-Series component sets are another simplification of the updated line architecture. Vans is utilizing the Diamond to draw lines to the three core offerings of the liner, footbed and outsole that are available in each product. Top Shelf customers can expect all products to include a V3 UltraCush Liner, V3 UltraCush footbeds and a V3 Ultimate Waffle outsole and Pro Spec customers will find a full offering of V2 components. For the OG and BASE/YOUTH level, Vans provides V1 component packages. The difference between OG and BASE/YOUTH models is that the new V1 Waffle Lug outsole is available on the OG Spec product only, while the BASE products feature Vans’ tried and true Reverse Waffle outsole.
You have three big new product launches for 18/19: the TNF FlashDry V3 UltraCush liner, the Linerless DX and the Standard snow boot. Could you talk us through these?
VANS x TNF FLASHDRY
Vans is really excited to have the opportunity to team up with The North Face and shared snow team rider Blake Paul to develop the first-to-market FlashDry-equipped snowboard boot. FlashDry fabric technology is engineered to act like a second skin, pushing moisture to the surface and eliminating it as fast as possible. This fabric is engineered to repel and resist moisture and help provide quick-drying performance that keeps the user dry and comfortable. Together, Vans and The North Face have integrated this technology into the Verse’s V3 UltraCush liner. When combined with its waterproof zipper shroud and one-way breathable valves, Vans has set a new industry standard in moisture management and all-condition comfort.
The Hi-Standard Linerless DX
The all- new Vans Hi-Standard Linerless DX is a true “Off The Wall” offering from Vans and something that we couldn’t be more hyped to introduce. The Vans Hi-Standard Linerless DX is an innovative and reimagined boot like nothing you’ve worn before. The slimmed-down, linerless design is developed for intermediate to advanced street and park riders seeking the freedom of closer contact and better board feel. Unlike linerless boots of the past, the unmatched articulation of the new Hi-Standard Linerless DX offers support needed to shred all day by blending comfort and modern performance technology. Vans global snow team rider Mike Ravelson has been helping test this new boot over the past couple years and Vans is proud to finally be offering this to our customers.
The Vans Hi-Standard Linerless DX offers a very unique set of benefits that showcase minimized material on the boot upper to provide softer, skate-like articulated performance. Also the de-volumized upper reduces overall boot size and an increased internal foam package to provide a softer, more cushioned feel. The overall reduced weight lightens the boot significantly and no internal harnessing allows easier entry and exit of the boot. The Hi-Standard Linerless DX also features Vans’ new V1 Waffle Lug outsole to ensure proper binding baseplate fit.
Standard Snow Boot
The Standard Snow Boot dropped in North America last year and made an immediate impact. The Standard boot provides the traction, warmth, and weatherproofing you need wrapped in classic Vans style and is complete with a waterproof vulcanized rubber lower, removable felt liners, MTE 2.0 outsoles and is finished off with Vans’ signature Sidestripe. Après shred, shovelling the driveway, or binding-less pow surfing, the Standard boot is the obvious choice.
Next year you’ve got a Pat Moore, Blake Paul – Mary Rand and a Schoph boot. Could you give us the skinny on all four.
Team rider endorsed colourways have always important to what we create at Vans. The Vans global snow team continues to influence and inspire us, and being able to share some of their vision with Vans customers is a humbling experience. Pat Moore is back on the Infuse with his third consecutive signature colourway for the upcoming season. Pat really is one of the engines that continues to drive pro snowboarding and our industry and Vans is proud to collaborate on a collection with him for a third consecutive season.
Getting Jackson Wyoming’s Blake Paul involved in the Verse project with The North Face was a great experience. On the inside of Verse’s tongue, you’ll find some of Blake’s very own artwork. Additionally, TNF is offering a Vans co-branded outerwear kit in their new BACKCOUNTRY line, dressed in black and purple to match and merchandise with the Vans Verse.
Mary Rand’s custom endorsed colourway of the Ferra Pro displays tonal sunflower floral prints on the shell with a complimenting yellow Sidestripe, and vibrant all-over sunflower print on the liner. Mary’s collection includes a Slip-Mid MTE and a Slip-Er that matches back to her custom Ferra Pro.
Art is one of the four pillars that Vans supports and incorporating an artist project for fall 2018 is something Vans is proud to offer. Collaborating with English-born artist Schoph on the Hi-Standard OG was organic and easy. As a member of the HMNNTR crew alongside Vans global snow team riders Jamie Lynn and Bryan Iguchi, having Schoph work on a small capsule collection was something that we all enjoyed doing and the final project turned out killer.
Just what does the Vans Snowboarding Days allow you to see in Europe?
What I find most beneficial about the Vans Snowboarding Days in EU is the quality time spent with the retailers and media. Living and working in the US doesn’t always allow for the time needed to be on the ground with the EU accounts, so being able to spend a couple of focused and concentrated days together at this event gives everyone time to talk, ride and get past a place of initial feedback and into a deeper understanding of needs and wants from our product team. Similarly, with the media, having an opportunity to share thoughts on product, stories and happenings in the snow community around the world is enjoyable and invaluable. The Vans Snowboarding Days event represents so much that is rad about living and working in the snowboard industry because at the end of the day you’re at a rad spot, with like-minded people doing what we all love and focusing on common goals.