Outerwear-focussed chinwag with Burton Snowboards' Chief Creative Officer.
Greg Dacyshyn is Chief Creative Officer at Burton Snowboards, and the man that heads up the whole creative process of the company - from marketing to assessing fashion trends, to board graphics and more. He is, pretty much, the dude. For our latest Tech Heads, we sat down with Greg to talk specifically about the way in which outerwear moves from concept to reality.
[Interview - Youri Barneyoud]
We guess the process of creating a snow jacket is different from a simple fashion garment. But what comes first in the creative process: function and then you see what style can do? Or style first?
For me, that is truly the hardest part of designing outerwear, ie., hitting the perfect balance of form and function. But it’s also the best part. At Burton, functionality is always on our mind. We are constantly figuring out how to make our pieces function at the highest level. But we never waver on style. That is the challenge - to translate an aesthetic into a piece and ensure we don’t jeopardize any functionality. So whether it’s through cut lines, fabric or construction we need to be relentless in ensuring the style is integrated with the performance. Take AK for instance. It looks like a stealth fighter because it needs to perform flawlessly.
It feels like snowboarding has been at the forefront of urban fashion, especially in the 90s. Now with many influences coming from all sorts of urban sports, blogs, videos etc... What’s your view on fashion and trends in snowboarding?
Just like in fashion or music or art, trends definitely come and go in snowboarding. And I think that all stems back to the fact that it’s an individual sport. From your riding style to your gear, snowboarding is the complete opposite to team sports in that it encourages individual expression over standardization. There’s so much creativity in our sport that it is only natural that looks, styles, colors and prints morph from season to season. Having said that, at Burton we never look in the rearview mirror. If something was hot for streetwear or fashion last season, we don’t hustle to try and bring it in the following season like many others do. We really rely on our own inspirations, riders, DNA and experiences, to set direction and look and feel for the coming seasons.
In that respect, do you think snowboarding has lost its ‘influence’ in the board culture (or the urban lifestyle more generally)? And if so, how can it take it back?
I don’t think snowboarding has lost its influence on any level. And with regards to the ‘urban lifestyle’ culture you refer to, I don’t think it’s ever been our intent to prioritize owning that genre as our ultimate goal. We make a wide range of products for all types of riders from newbie to pro and everything in between. What it comes down to is that we are rooted in snowboarding, having a great time and looking good while doing it. Not urban culture, or any other niche. We are and will always be focused on snowboarding and the surrounding lifestyle first and foremost. That is what keeps us grounded and authentic.
Where do you find your inspiration mostly?
Definitely it starts with the team. Hanging with these guys is such a great experience and one of the best parts of my gig. I am constantly energized by the time I get to spend with them, both on and off the hill. Their energy and passion for our products and our sport is amazing, and I come off every team trip more inspired than the last. And it’s a good day when all the samples disappear from a team product meeting. That means it’s mission accomplished.
Next, it’s all about getting out of comfort zone and having as much fun as possible. At Burton we are global travelers who charge around the planet 12 months a year, looking to get inspired and get into the mix. In my tenure with Burton I’ve had the opportunity to travel to, and experience some of the most amazing places in the world. For me, it’s not about the quick and dirty trips to knock out some meetings and order room service; it’s way more about immersing myself into the local scene, meeting up with some old and new friends, and hopefully making it back to the hotel alive.
Finally, I’d have to say that to get inspired creatively to build products, you absolutely have to be a product addict. Some might say I have to hit product rehab. But if you’re not a consumer, how can you make products for your consumer? Having a lust for products is key to making them. I am constantly on the hunt for great products, past present and future, and in this quest I get a constant stream of inspiration.
Burton might not have the corest image compared to the eternal small/rider own companies out there. Nevertheless Burton always had that ‘premium brand’ image. How does it work on the long run?
For the long run, it all starts with heritage. While heritage has always been an important factor in long-term success, never before has it been such a critical hallmark. In today’s very fluctuating economy, consumers want (and can really only afford) to invest in brands and products that have a history of quality and functionality. No one is willing to gamble on their disposable income purchases. Bling and flash won’t pull it these days; it’s all about quality, dependability, timelessness, and functionality.
The $100 question: What will be the trend(s) for, let’s say 2013/14 winter collection? You know, our readers always want to be so next year...
What I can definitely say is that we will be continuing to put the needs of the rider first. And while their needs change with the climate and the culture, we know that as long as we focus on them and the sport, that we will continue to stay a step ahead in designing and delivering the right product mix. And as far as what that new mix will be for 2014… well, if I told you I would have to kill you.