Sweatpants, Women Only, Vermont Resorts, Cities Like Skateparks? Four Articles Worth a Few Minutes

NOTE: I recognize there are paywalls and not all of you can read these.  Often though, you can get a few free articles every month.

About four weeks ago I got a new shoulder so I’ve been quiet for a while. This had been coming on for decades. It’s healing fine but leaves me with only one arm to type with. Happily, I’m discovered dictating in Word. We’ll see how that works.

This shoulder is what made me give up snowboarding about five years ago. We’ll see if things change next season.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot going on, and with the drugs out of my system I’m hoping to address them coherently.

I’m going to start with some articles I’ve discovered.  Between the virus, the weather here in the Northwest, and my shoulder I’ve had lots of time to read.

From the New York Times Magazine last August comes “Sweatpants Forever,” by Irina Aleksander.  “Even before the pandemic, the whole fashion industry had started to unravel. What happens now that no one has a reason to dress up?”

My favorite quote: “‘Is there a place for a $30 million brand that can self-sustain and be around year after year?”  I’m pretty sure “self-sustain” means earn a profit.

Though it’s not specifically about the active outdoor or action sports businesses you’ll recognize all the trends and issues at the brand and industry levels.  They aren’t new but their acceleration continues to be striking.  Who’s likely to succeed? The ones with solid balance sheets, an open mind and willingness to change.  No- not willing to change; if you haven’t already been adapting in the ordinary course of business (even before the virus hit) without thinking you’re doing anything unusual, you’re behind the curve.

Let’s move on to “Female-only ski classes are helping to grow the sport among women” in the Washington Post on November 12th.  I don’t have a lot to say about it accept that it’s amazing how great ideas seems so obvious as soon as somebody tries them. Like most other on slope operations the author says it’s been impacted by the virus. Which kind of brings us to the next article.

Vermont’s Ski Season, on the Brink,” in the New York Times November 19th, comes under the heading of “You can do everything right and still get screwed.” Due to geography, Vermont resorts actually had an opportunity to be positively impacted by the virus. Then it surged and the state put on more restrictions.

As a whole, the industry has done a pretty damn good job since last March getting ready for this season. Not everybody I imagine, and hence there will be some more consolidation.  But overall I’ve seen creativity, hard decisions and good communication.  The focus is on this season, but I suspect resorts are going to benefit next year and in future years from all the work they did and processes they studied to get ready for what we all hope and expect will be the last virus impacted season for a long time.

Just maybe you’ve institutionalized some additional flexibility. I don’t see how that can be a bad thing in this industry. I also think year around cash flow has become more important.

What do you say when the New York Times has a November 17th article with the title “Why Cities Are Finally Showing Skateboarders Some Respect.”  Just another cycle for skateboarding? I don’t think so. But maybe I hope so. Personally, I think I liked skateboarding the most when it was underground, irreverent, and a bit arrogant bordering on indifferent to what anybody else thought.  then big companies, Olympics, decks made in China, apparel.  A market top? Maybe, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.  I think and hope that arrogant and irreverent can coexist with the other stuff because skateboarding is, and has always been, something everybody can do anywhere.  Maybe today when we need some social/cultural bridges among so many groups that’s what’s important.

Check out Make Life Skate Life to see what I mean.

OK, I’m going to go ice my shoulder. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Let’s see if we can maintain a reasonable level of caution until the vaccines are here.




4 replies
  1. longboardkook
    longboardkook says:

    You asked, “Personally, I think I liked skateboarding the most when it was underground, irreverent, and a bit arrogant bordering on indifferent to what anybody else thought.”

    My answer: I liked it much better when skateboarding was and underground/irreverent/arrogant activity. Though municipal skateparks are much better than the short-lived private owned parks of the 1970’s/1980’s. But then again, when VF dropped $2 billion for a street brand, things like underground and irreverent just got sold out. Oh well, skateparks are cool these days and every city/county should have a couple. $2billion? When will Supreme hit the malls? Target?

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi longboardkook,
      It is certainly true that VF will want to justify it’s purchase price for Supreme, and this will not doubt involve VF using it’s distribution muscle and generally excellent management processes to figure out to make that happen consistent with maintaining the status of the brand. See Vans. I’m just no longer sure there is the kind of obvious conflict between skate being cool and it being more broadly accepted and sold we all used to worry about. As I also said, I think our cultural and social evolution may have created a need/place/opportunity/reason for being for skate that didn’t exist before.
      Thanks for the comment.

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