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"I want equipment that is designed to span multiple seasons, years, decades; let me know how we did in 2040." That quote sits prominently on Season Eqpt's about page, attributed to the brand’s co-founder and professional snowboarder Austin Smith. It perfectly sums up the ethos of Season, which Smith co-founded with professional skier Eric Pollard in 2020.
Longevity is just one piece to the Season Eqpt equation, though. To create ski and snowboard gear that’s designed to span multiple years of riding requires bucking the trends and doing away with the traditional model of a ski and snowboard company. That’s just the approach that Smith and Pollard took when launching the brand.
Season boards and skis have minimal branding (they’re nearly brandless in fact) — black topsheets, black bases, no gender-specific marketing, graphics or sizes, and few changes year over year. The Season board you buy today will look nearly identical to the one you buy in the future. This stands in stark contrast to the traditional approach, which aims to have consumers buying new boards and skis each year. Shapes, graphics and marketing messaging all change in service of that model. But it’s an environmentally irresponsible approach, and one that drives more boards and skis into landfills when in reality, they could see more life if they were simply repaired and maintained.
This brings up another unique aspect to Season’s business model: included in each board or ski purchase is a lifetime warranty, and, through a partnership with Evo shops, a host of repair and wax services aimed at extending the life of your board or skis. That includes: unlimited complimentary machine wax services, a complimentary standard tune every year and 30 percent off additional repair services for the lifetime of the product.
Everything about this model is earth-shattering in the ski and snowboard industry. But that’s what makes it even more attractive from a consumer standpoint.
We caught up with Season’s Brand Director Josh Malczyk to hear more about the driving forces behind the brand, its unique business model and dedication to sustainability.
TQE: Season is such a refreshing take on not only the snowsports industry but the outdoor industry as a whole. What was the tipping point that convinced you to start the company?
Josh Malczyk: “The only thing that makes durable goods like skis and snowboards expire is marketing. While revolutionary shapes and materials do come around every so often, it’s hardly every year. A slight change of a sidecut here, a graphic change there with marketing hype behind it makes a larger percentage of product go obsolete before its usable life, creating unnecessary waste. At Season we saw the opportunity to extend this life by offering a timeless look and not frantically changing our shapes for the sake of offering something ‘new.’”
“Our small group has over 60 years combined in snowsports experience as marketers, athletes, designers and sales, so we’ve seen the patterns throughout the last two decades and realized the industry didn’t need any more of the same. The annual consumer cycle is broken so we decided to offer a new perspective on what it means to own and care for your equipment for a longer period of time.”
TQE: Where did the inspiration come from to create non-gendered skis and snowboards?
JM: “We wanted to simplify the buying process, and equipment doesn’t see gender, so it was only natural to make sizes appropriate for all genders and market as such. Most women’s and men’s products are simply the same mold with appropriate sizes and a different graphic.”
TQE: What about the name? It's interesting to me because Season Eqpt, at least from what I can tell at this point, stays the same season to season (i.e. no topsheet graphic changes). Is that where the name comes from?
JM: “Most of society just tries to get through the winter season whereas the snow enthusiasts celebrate it, and actively look forward to and talk about their season. We’ve started with the winter season but in the future we hope to expand into more seasons. Our logo is a portal with 25 percent filled in (a season) and it’s also reminiscent of a focal point inside a camera viewfinder. We hope to use that portal to represent our perspective on play in the mountains and the community at large, and hope showing the world our perspective will inspire people to show us theirs.”
TQE: What about the color palette and branding? What inspired the minimalist aesthetic? I've read that black bases are the fastest — what made you continue the black onto the topsheet as well?
JM: “Austin Smith and Eric Pollard have had over 40 pro models with amazing graphics from Line Skis and Nitro Snowboards. While they were great and served a purpose in the industry, we didn’t want to “play the hits” and offer what was expected. With an overarching ethos of simplifying the aesthetic, it takes the focus off the product and onto the experience the equipment gives you on the mountain. Our ‘flag’ mark you’ll see on all our products is a distilled representation of the gradient colors you see at sunrise and sunset, which are some of the best parts of the day.”
TQE: What's next for Season? Any new products or partnerships in the works?
JM: “For winter ’23 we’ll be adding a wider lightweight ski called the Pass to complement our Pass Splitboard as well as a few more timeless pieces of apparel. While keeping a focused product line and being a small team, we want to lean into what we’ve produced — improving process and materials to build upon our durability. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so development timelines will get longer to offer products we’re confident will serve a purpose to our community.”
What It’s Like to Ride a Season Board
In practice, Season Eqpt delivers on its promises. During a few sunny, springy test days at Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, VT, the Season Aero ($549) delivered on its ethos of being a fast, hard-charging board that can handle varying snow conditions with ease. According to Malczyk, with the Aero, form follows function. Season looked to create a board that could handle many different hard-packed snow types, and the resulting shape is the Aero snowboard (for two-plankers the Aero is also available in a ski).
Euro-carves, slush slashes, and even lighthearted laps through the terrain park were all well within the Aero’s repertoire — it’s poised and refined despite the fact that the shape may have you thinking otherwise at first blush.
In the liftline, the Season draws more attention than you would think for a board with a simple black topsheet. But because of its simplicity, it actually stands out from the crowd. I heard refrains of, “Hey what’s that?” and “Who makes that board?” on more than one occasion. For someone who prides themselves on being ahead of the curve and having unique products, a sweeter sound doesn’t exist.
If someone asked today what skis or snowboard they should be looking at, there’s really only one answer. The minimal aesthetic, included waxing and maintenance perks (if you live within driving distance of an Evo store) and commitment to sustainability make it a no-brainer. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you like to be ahead of the curve, too. Here’s your chance.
While ski season is drawing to a close, rest assured that Season’s current offerings will carry you into the next season (and the next…and the next), too. Until then, shop Aero and more here.