Everyone has been affected by impacts from Covid-19 in one way or another. Have you had to change manufacturing or sourcing processes and can you explain any good examples of how your business has pivoted effectively?
The processes haven’t really changed, just the timing. The raw material and power shortages, as well as massive delays in shipping have caused the timelines to shift quite a bit this year, and will continue to impact our ordering/production and delivery timelines for 22/23.
Carry-over was a hot topic for 21/22 boots. Where did your brand sit on the matter and has this changed for 22/23?
We have always been quite slim on carryovers but have adopted the concept where necessary and helpful for everyone involved.For our snowboard boots, we stopped re-inventing the black coloway every year if the actual design of a specific model remains unchanged and just colors are being updated. This sometimes extends to other neutral standard colors, such as a grey boot. At the same time, we still see some retailers discounting even carry-forward products at the end of the season. Maybe for cash flow reasons, maybe out of habit. Carryovers really make the most sense if used smartly by everyone involved: for better production planning, order timing, on-time delivery, and prolonged shelf value.
The bricks and mortar model is changing rapidly. How are you working with retailers and your ecommerce channel to ensure as little conflict as possible?
Since Nitro is not doing direct B2C ecommerce, we are not facing this conflict as much as other brands. But we do see a shift in the marketplace with less specialty shops, and a growing number of larger sporting goods stores, chains and online retailers. We also have a need to maintain and grow sales, so we are working on solutions to successfully cooperate with several channels of retail. With a product line as big as ours, segmenting is a good option, and we are strongly supporting our retailers’ efforts to build the local and regional snowboard scene.
What’s your company doing to improve its carbon footprint/eco consciousness?
As a company, we have been working with a very decentralized system from the beginning. Our design, R&D, sales and logistics teams and people are spread across the entire globe, sometimes in smaller and flexible offices, but many of our employees are working from their homes. This doesn’t only enhance our global view on snowboarding, its trends and needs in different markets, it also allows for minimal commuting with less emissions and a more family-friendly working environment for everyone. We strongly believe in this diversified concept and have used it for over 30 years. If you seriously want to reduce your emissions, you need to look at the whole process from raw materials all the way to product disposal. Each and every process needs to be scanned and optimized. At some point you will end up with an amount of emissions that you can’t reduce further at a current state of technology. Supporting projects financially that will offset those emissions is the best possible way for me to get as close as possible to a climate neutral product. We started this approach on boards, and I am proud to say that our snowboards are already 100% climate neutral since the 21/22 season. But I also know that this is still just the beginning of a very long journey.
Will you be using any previously unseen materials (in build, cushioning, support or grip) or construction methods?
Travelling and working directly with our boot factories to do our typical R&D process has been impossible, so innovations in material and construction have been slowed down. While we are working on several mid-to-long term raw material projects, we have focused on new boot models for 22/23. At the same time, we have expanded some constructions and materials that we started this year, also into additional models for 22/23: 3D knitted fabrics, thermo welded overlays and reinforcements.
What lacing systems are your main focus in 22/23, and why? Is shifting customer preference influencing what you offer, or are things pretty stable now?
As in the past, our proprietary TLS lacing goes on most of our boot models. TLS has proven to be fast, effective, and reliable. We are also offering Boa, sometimes on specific boots, sometimes as an alternative to TLS on the same model. For us, growth in Boa boot sales has mainly been driven by online sales. Another important aspect that gets disregarded a lot is the inner lacing: Our patented Re/Lace system for the liner has been a huge step towards better boot fit for us and can be found in every model.
Please tell us about the dominant visual themes in next year’s boot line (materials as well as colours), including any interesting artist collabs you have lined up.
Nitro stays true to its solid, clean look for most of the line. We are also expanding the new materials and modern looks that we have introduced into more models and price points, creating more visual and technical diversity within the line. Next to the standard colorways, we are always experimenting with some stand-out colors, hoping our buyers see the same potential we do and step outside of the safe blacks and greys for a moment of excitement! Looking back at past sales figures, it’s interesting to see that the biggest sales volume is not always in the black colorway 😉
Which part of your range are you investing in the most? Freestyle, freeride, do-it-all, beginner…? Why?
A lot of energy has gone into the development of our splitboarding boots, and for 22/23, we still keep a focus here. This segment still offers a lot of potential for improvement, both for boots 100% dedicated to splitboarding, but also for hybrid models that can perfectly be used on and off the slopes.Another chunk of work went into our women’s boots. With two entirely new models and five restyled boots, more than two thirds of the line have changed, and we are excited to show these new boots to our clients.Of course, the development of our new Step On® compatible boots, the Profile and the Cave, has been a big part of our R&D focus. We wanted to make sure to offer 100% compatibility, combined with our signature Nitro fit and features. So, we went through many rounds of prototypes, lab testing and on-snow hours. We are very happy with the collaboration and the final products, which will be a great addition in fit, function and style to the well-established functionality of the Burton Step On® system.
Which other footwear sectors do you follow which influence the line?
We always look at the entire range of footwear on the market. Sometimes for technical and material cues, sometimes for sheer cosmetic trends. Most of these influences are not 100% applicable to snowboard boots though, so we always keep a good measure of our own feel, experience, and knowhow in the mix.
What are your top marketing stories for next season?
Our main focus for boots is the Ultimate Fit: All Nitro boots are constructed using the same principle: from the inside out. We’re wrapping your foot in comfortable first layers and build up structure and support exactly where needed, step by step towards the outside and the shell. The result is a boot that is comfortable, but provides foothold, support and flex in exactly the right spots.Another key topic is the introduction of Step On compatible boots: We are proud to introduce the brand-new Nitro Profile and Cave TLS Step On® snowboard boots, developed in collaboration with two brands that love snowboarding. Two boots that offer the Ultimate Fit from Nitro and the groundbreaking Step On® binding that offers comfort and convenience from Burton. Combine the well-known Nitro fit with Step On’s game-changing binding performance, and step into a pair!”
Best Sellers/Hero products
Nitro’s most anticipated new boot model, the Ronda TLS, boot allows for the ultimate snowboarding adventure versatility through its all-mountain resort comfort and fit, combined with all the features needed for weekend splitboard adventures to escape the crowds at the resorts. Built for the riders looking a lightweight split ready resort boot.
Step On® Compatible Boots (Profile & Cave)
The new Profile and Cave TLS Step On® boots offer the ultimate blend of comfort and convenience allowing you to get more runs in and stay out longer with a fit that lasts. They provide a sure foothold and comfortable fit from early morning groomers to last run powder adventures. The collaboration between two technology-focused R&D departments has led to the best fitting and most convenient snowboard set-up you will ever experience.
The Team is Nitro´s most celebrated and award-winning snowboard boot for good reason. Considered by riders and retailers to be the most versatile snowboard boot on the market, it is the go-to boot for snowboarders everywhere, from pros to local legends, because of its undeniable comfortable fit, versatile flex, and time-proven performance.