Few riders can lay claim to being as influential, both in terms of pure progression and style, as Peter Line.
At the peak of his career in the mid 90s, Peter played a monumental part in sculpting snowboarding into what it is today, and from cementing the 'video part pro' as a legitimate route through snowboarding, to pioneering new tricks such as the backside rodeo, Peter's legacy is unquestionable.
Since the untimely demise of Foursquare and Forum in 2012, Peter has been looking for a new outlet for his creativity and has since landed a new role as the lead men's outerwear designer for Dakine. Here, we sit down with Peter to talk design processes, stylistic influences and more. - Sam Oetiker
For the readers who are perhaps unaware, could you tell us a bit about your background in snowboarding and how you got into it?
I guess my background in snowboarding started with skateboarding as a little kid, probably when I was like 12. Then I started seeing snowboards for the first time and snowboarding in Thrasher magazine. All our friends skied at the time but I would just snowboard, because I skated and was loving it, and it kind of went from there.
I just fell in love with snowboarding and just kept on doing it and doing it, and eventually turned pro. Now I’m sitting here, in Europe, in a chair in the snow!
How did your relationship with Dakine come about?
I forget what year Foursquare ended, but before it did they kind of brought me back in again to be kind of a creative director in product. But Burton shut it down before any of my products came out. I didn’t really know what my plans were after that, because everything in my last 15 years was working with Forum and Foursquare and then that just kind of ended. For a year I was kind of floating - figuring out what was next for me, and what I felt like doing.
Then Mark Welsh called me up who’s kind of the marketing guy at Dakine and asked if I was interested in coming in and seeing if I wanted to design their outerwear. And Scotty [Conerly] kind of got involved as well and I had an interview and they liked the stuff I presented them. So I designed my first line and everybody seems happy with it, and we’re moving forward!
Was it pretty straight forward applying all of the knowledge and experience that you gained working on Foursquare to the new gig?
With the Foursquare stuff I kind of got the beginning elements of designing outerwear, working with the developers over there at The Program, learning Photoshop and Illustrator to kind of get a foundation down for the whole process of designing outerwear. And then with Dakine I’ve just gone even more in-depth with it. Going to visit the factories, learning about all the fabrics and stuff in more detail, drawing up all the tech packs, and getting really detailed about everything - more so than I did with Foursquare where I was really busy riding. I would just do some sketches and then work with the guys in the office to perfect the designs, while they were the ones who actually knew the majority of how to create the pieces from beginning to the end.
So what’s your official title now?
My official title is ‘Lead Men’s Outerwear Designer’
So you’re involved with everything in the process, including choosing all of the materials and textiles and stuff as well?
Yep, colour, to textiles, fits, everything pretty much. The only thing I can’t really dictate are the overall product lines. It’s like: “ok we need a jacket in this price range in Gore or whatnot and here’s a line plan that we want you to design for". But even then I can add my input, like: “I think this would be a cool jacket to add in here, or in the midlayer or whatnot".
Then they’re like, “ok colours are due", and then I have all my colours I present to the team, and we whittle it down. I also work with the backpack, bag and glove designers, to get an idea for what colours they’re feeling too.
The next development is to print some patterns. This year I did three of the patterns: the peat camo, the plaid and the smoke one, and the art department did the trophy print, and it seems like it’s carrying on that way for the future, with me working on my own prints as well.
What’s your favourite part of the whole design process?
I think it’s like Christmas when we get our first samples back. They get shipped from the factory in these big boxes, and you’re like, “aaahh I wanna see my designs", and just like rip it open, check out your jacket and your pants, like, “oh this will turn out awesome", or “ah man this isn’t gonna work, I gotta re-draw those and fix it again".
It’s really exciting to see what you create be physically in front of you and actually check it out, or put it on or whatever, and have the fit model put it on and see what’s going on and change it from there. To just see it go from drawing to actual product is pretty exciting.
It’s really exciting to see what you create be physically in front of you and actually check it out...To see it go from drawing to actual product is pretty exciting
Could you summarise the kind of aesthetic you were going for with the designs for the new Dakine collection? What looks were you going for and what inspired them?
The inspiration for me was just where I live and where I grew up riding. In the North-West we have all sorts of elements, from rain, to zero degrees powder snow, to ice, we pretty much get it all, so I need outerwear that’s going to work for everything really. And with Dakine coming from the North West it kind of has that same sort of feel and aesthetic going on.
Basically I design first-and-foremost to work on the mountain number one, and then aesthetically to look good when you’re just kind of walking around on the streets. Not looking like some mountain climber or something like that with really bright colours, something to just wear everyday that fits your normal wear, keeping that classic design rather than going crazy tech.
When it comes down to that stuff, the most important thing is to keep you dry because if you get wet you get cold, you know? It has to be breathable too because if you start sweating and it doesn’t release, you also get cold. So I kind of build that way first with the waterproofing and the fabrics and the materials, and after that it’s just the very simple aesthetics that just work – things that you don’t actually think about but just work perfectly. You know, like the way a cuff works. You don’t think about it when you’re actually wearing the jacket but you’ve got to make sure that it works well for everybody.
I also kind of stay away from kind of nick-nack tech, stuff that’s there because some other company has that in their product or whatever. If it actually doesn’t work that well, or if it’s more annoying than it is functional, then I want to make sure it’s not there because often the most tech pieces are the simplest pieces.
Is it tricky having to work so far in advance? Obviously your line is coming out now and you started working on it almost two years ago, is there ever a risk of what you designed at the time going outdated by the time it comes out for example?
I think having to work so far in advance you do have to plan ahead for sure and it will get tricky when you’re trying to be on trend. Like if you’re one of those brands that are like “we want to be cutting edge with the patterns and prints and whatnot".
I try and keep it very classic to where the piece is very wearable in a few years from now, just kind of timeless. There are definitely a few pieces that are a little more fun, but more of our higher end pieces are very clean and classical, designed to stand the test of time.
What styles are you into right now and where do you see it going in the future? What are you into personally?
Yeah I think most of the stuff I kind of design slightly for myself, but then also something aesthetic that I can just look at and be like, “oh I like that", even if I wouldn’t necessarily wear that piece - where I’m like, “that’s pretty dope but it’s not necessarily my style".
If it’s me designing just for myself I just like all black or army green realistically (laughs), but I designed one of the pieces – the Baring jacket I believe – with a brighter yellow with white snaps which just looks really clean.
But like I said, most of it is very military, workwear inspired type stuff - very classic designs. Pieces often start speaking to me when I start doing the colour-ups: “oh this is a little more workwear" so I kind of add a little more workwear colour to it. Or another piece might have a juxtaposition of a tech zipper with more classic storm flap and snaps. It's just putting all that down on the computer, looking at it and re-drawing, and you kind of start envisioning it in your head. If it looks good then I’m stoked.
What was the transition from pro rider to outerwear designer like? Did you have to change your mindset and approach?
I pretty much accepted I wasn’t pro anymore for quite a while now and I was ‘the legend’ pro on the team for a long time until Forum ended and then it was kind of time to get more of a ‘real job’ I guess - less just me and my name being attached to a brand and getting paid for that, while still kind of working with them at the side with other stuff.
Throughout the years when I was full-blown pro and doing X Games and whatnot I was still going into the office in the summertime and working on the outerwear pieces or creating graphics for Forum, so I’ve always kind of had that element of working with the company the whole time, even when I was full-blown pro.
Do you still get to ride as much as you’d like to?
Not as much as I’d like to I guess although I can’t really say it’s the work’s fault. Since I started working with Dakine it just seems that the weather hasn’t really been that awesome, and then sometimes when I have to do a mandatory trip to Dakine or China or whatnot it always seems that that’s the time it dumps in Washington. I’m like: “aaaaargh 3 feet of pow at Alpental… and I’m in China, in the smog!"
So I think it just kind of randomly always ends up that way, and then when I’m home it’s either just raining, or ice and cold. So I’ve just been unfortunate this past year and a half with Dakine weather-wise. But I think I could make a routine of just cruising up everyday for an hour or two in the mornings and then coming down and working.
I think that's a routine we could all get used to! Thanks a lot Peter and we look forward to seeing the new line on the shelves soon.