With the exception of my first two snowboards ever, a Sims 165 Gart Sports edition that my dad bought me and a 156 Rossignol that I bought off a male coworker to downsize the Sims board, I have always ridden what would be considered a women’s specific board. It wasn’t necessarily intentional, every few years or so I would find a board I liked and I would buy it – it was that simple. Over the years, I have learned what type of rider I am and have started shifting my gear purchases based off those specific qualities. Let’s be honest though, a majority of us purchase our gear in this order: preferred brand, board specs and graphics. Don’t even tell us that graphics don’t influence your purchase; in fact, I bet for some people, the first thing they look at are the physical aesthetics.
Photo by Corey McDonald
Graphics go a long way in influencing someone’s decision to buy, which is why many brands have learned how to market to the different genders. Whitelines Magazine came out with an article recently about targeting graphic designs towards women and how these marketing techniques are perpetuating stereotypes that all women like overtly girly graphics. While I can’t necessarily argue with the fact that women’s boards are obviously feminine while a men’s board can remain gender neutral, I can argue with the fact that their techniques are effective. I believe that the women who buy gender specific boards may be caught up in the idea that gender specific boards are more useful to them as riders, which is what we will be looking into here. Are gender specific boards relevant or is it more of a persuasive marketing gimmick?
I had been playing with this idea for some time now and it really came to its conclusion when I sat down and had a long conversation with Dinosaurs Will Die co-owner, Sean Genovese. I met Sean last spring at a quarterpipe event and was impressed with the integrity of the company. I caught up with him a few weeks ago to see how Snow Bunny Mag could help market DWD to female riders. Our conversation shed so much light on the marketing behind gender specific boards and how, coming from a business owner’s point-of-view, limiting it can be to market to only one type of rider, male or female. Not only do you have the two genders, but you also have a variety of styles of riders. Some prefer all-mountain, some prefer urban or freestyle, while others prefer big mountain – it’s extremely difficult and costly to manufacture and market to only one demographic. That’s why Sean said, and we paraphrase, “we don’t necessarily market our boards to men or women. I know that women sometimes need a narrower, lightweight board, which is why we have The Brat, our light-rider board. We could call it a young men’s board or a women’s board, but by calling it a light-rider board, it opens up the market to more types of riders.”
Photo by Dylan Sifford
Sean is quite the conversationalist and super nice guy. As we continued talking, we got on the subject of women’s pro-model boards. It is not uncommon for a woman to ride a men’s pro-model board but it is pretty uncommon for a man to ride a women’s pro-model board. “It would be revolutionary for a guy to be riding someone like Jess Kimura’s Capita pro-model board. She throws down just as hard as any guy; guys should be riding her board. Yet, due to the idea of women specific boards, it’s less common for a guy to ride a woman’s pro-model.”
Photo by Dustin Johnson
Sean brings up a very interesting point – are we limiting ourselves as riders by being so focused on gender specific options? Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to ride a board that is pink and is adorned in flowery graphics, but are we looking to the wrong things that define our riding?
The first thing you as a snowboarders (or skiers) need to establish is what kind of rider you are and what limitations you have. For example, petite girls may struggle with a heavier, wider board so they should buy a board conducive to their size. Taller girls may not be limited when it comes to snowboard sizes but they should at least know what type of riding they are going to be doing.
Photo by Dylan Sifford
Honestly, do I think feminine snowboard graphics are hindering women’s progression in snowboarding? No, I don’t. What it boils down to is knowing who you are as a rider and finding a board that supports that style; as well as, supporting brands that progress the scene, whether you’re male or female. Thanks Sean and the rest of the DWD crew for supporting the scene, whether you have XX or XY chromosomes.