If you live in a resort community long enough you will see the meteoric rise of small brands. It usually goes that someone thought they had a unique idea for a t-shirt or sticker company and then their friends got behind it and pushed them to go through with it. It’s in this brand creation that two things happen; it remains a local brand that goes no where and ultimately dies or through hard work and determination the brand starts to gain recognition and grow. Phunkshun Wear is one of those brands that may have small town roots but they aren’t a t-shirt company and certainly not some quirky sticker brand, they are in my opinion one of the best face masks in the industry.
If you’re from Summit County Colorado then you’ve more than likely seen their elephant logo plastered on decks, walls, cars, and wherever a sticker can be stuck. It’s here in what some have dubbed the current mecca of snowboarding that this brand has established itself. Having personally seen the growth of this brand and the progression of their product in just under the two short years they’ve been established has been inspiring to watch. What started in a basement in Wildernest now has a full warehouse and office located at 554E Brian Ave in Silverthorne. It’s here in this facility that ideas are made and tested.
Not so recently I was invited by Jay Badgley their CEO to go on what can only be described as a redneck team bonding experience. Yes, we went and shot guns and talked face masks. It was during this exercise of our second amendment that the key players of this brand were able to discuss the future of Phunkshun Wear.
As rounds were being popped off behind us Steve Norwood, their Global Sales Manager, spoke of his efforts to expand distribution and brand presence. When talking where the brand is and where they’re going his eyes grew wide with excitement, “We’re getting distributors aware of the brand and getting ready for ISPO (booth A2 426) and SIA (booth 678). We’re putting all the pieces into place and taking Phunkshun Wear from where they are to a serious player in the global market.” He spoke of how other brands may get more exposure from the mainstream media but “being under the radar” has played well into exposing the brand to different channels of advertising and market awareness. It’s through this that he believes the opportunities presented to them to make custom and one-off masks separates them from other brands like Airhole and NXTZ. In North America Steve has been able to harness some of the best reps in the business through his decades of experience and connections. It will be these guys that help put faces to the brand and push their retail markets.
While getting ready to shoot skeet Jacob Levy the man behind the designs admits that it’s harder for him to pop off a few rounds than it is to make a mask. Talking about the 2014 line up his enthusiasm over new materials and production methods exudes like a giddy school girl. The biggest fashion trend that he speaks of is how camouflage is making a huge comeback and they will have various digital camo prints. When asked if this trend would ever inspire them to consider working on a military grade mask he admits that they would love to play with Aramid and attempt to create a ballistic resistant balaclava or face mask, although a full bulletproof one would be impossible. It’s here that Lanny Goldwasser the owner talks about how in the long term they would love to be able to provide masks to both the U.S. Military as well as the Israeli Army in which he served.
As any rider knows functional products are what separate one brand from another. Fashion is fun but functionality is key and with face masks many brands don’t live up to the hype of being breathable and water repellent. While sitting in The Big Hit in Breckenridge Colorado I’ve bore witness on more than one occasion to them making a cup out of a Phunkshun Wear mask and pouring water into the hole to show how it does not leak through. It’s through this method that the shop has seen sales of the brand continue to grow and have nearly a one hundred percent sell through rate.
While some companies opt to come out the gate with big name pros to endorse their products Phunkshun Wear went with a more organic approach of selecting some of the most personable riders in Summit County. It was through this initiative that stoking out other riders has worked, especially the kids. Their week at Woodward at Copper alone caused new rules to be implemented due to the excessive amounts of stickers being slapped around the premise. The most notable snowboarder on their team is Olympic hopefully Justin “J Dubs” Morgan. In his first webisode of his new series The Life Of A Snowboarder you can see his love of the brand.
With SIA kicking off in just a few short days these guys are about to start to have their moment in the sun. If you’re in Denver swing by booth 678 around 5 p.m. on the 31st and the 2nd for happy hour and for all our fans of Parks and Wreck look for more of their riders as well as a special Angry Snowboarder x Phunkshun mask.