Parts & Labor will have a unique exhibition format.
Parts & Labor will have a unique exhibition format.

Just as the fashion trade show world continues to change in new directions based on industry and consumer demand, so too has Snow Industries of American (SIA) recently announced new changes for its organization and trade show for the snow sports industry.

Meanwhile, core snowboarders Joe Suta (Nightmare Snowboards) and Steven Kimura (Owner Operator/United Shapes) have created another snowboarding-only trade show during the similar timeframe with some overlap to the annual SIA trade show January 27-29, 2017, in Denver, CO.

First, in the SIA newsletter released Friday, July 8, 2016, the new President Nick Sargent addressed several concerns about the changes taking place in snow sports. First, SIA is moving their office from Maryland to Park City, UT, and will keep the annual Snow Show in Denver, CO. The hope is to be closer and more in touch with the snow industry, retailers, and stakeholders.

According to Sargent, “The new location allows SIA to be more involved in the fabric of the winter sport community and will provide the inspiration and breeding ground for new programs and strategic collaborations that will result in greater growth opportunities for the entire industry – east, west and in between.”
This means letting go some people who previously worked at SIA, however the list of those people has not yet been released.

The other significant parts of the newsletter had to do with the Snow Show’s relevancy, buy-sell cycles, and “poachers” –meaning those hosting side shows during SIA. Committees are being formed to address these issues and come up with a better strategy, especially for making the Snow Show more relevant.

SIA will be creating a “poachers policy” as described by Sargent: “We are developing a poaching policy, but how can we use industry peer pressure to show the poachers how disrespectful, maddening, cheap and unproductive it is to Show outside of the Snow Show at the same time. How can we ensure that retailers are not only attending, but growing in numbers? We need to be utilizing all channels and platforms of communication available to each of us to collectively reach out to current and new buyers. Let’s work together to address these issues more effectively and build the Show back to a position of THE show not to miss.”

Gallery Walls and Meeting Places 3-D rendering from Parts & Labor.
Gallery Walls and Meeting Places 3-D rendering from Parts & Labor.

This reminds us of when Bread & Butter fashion trade show, the leader in European fashion which everyone wanted to follow, was eventually also the magnet for other smaller shows to pop up during Berlin Fashion Week at the same time, including Bright. You could also say this happened with the Sundance Film Festival and the development of side festival Slamdance, X-Fest, among many others.

It’s not uncommon for smaller shows, usually for smaller brands or more niche cultures to spring up around the Mothership. Look at Magic and how it’s become less relevant because of fashion shows such as Project, then Liberty Fairs, Capsule, Agenda, and so on. ASR trade show got stomped-out eventually by Agenda.

Outdoor Retailer constantly has to watch their backs, as does Surf Expo. Such is the nature of trade shows, which comes into question their relevancy.

So when we heard about Parts & Labor, a trade show intended for snowboarders by snowboarders, was going to launch, it wasn’t all that surprising (both announcements were in the same week). Burton for example, had left the stables of SIA a couple of years ago and showcased in their own warehouse in Denver, complete with sustainability shuttles from the convention center to their destination. The writing was on the wall for others.

At Parts & Labor, they seem to understand the need for many snowboard brands to have a new format and show of their own, back to the roots of snowboarding culture and the more punk rock culture of how it all started. Just as snowboarding was once the bastard child of skiing, and treated that way with the induction into the Olympics and SIA trade show, snowboarding has clearly become the leader in snow sports from which the Olympics can’t live without. And many ski companies clearly follow the lead of snowboarding trends.

Parts & Labor has announced that they know this may be a challenge for some brands and have a concept called Dual Citizenship to address the needs for those who have to be in both locations. But here’s the real juice of why the organizers felt there was a need for a snowboarding only show:

“While outsiders have been tolling snowboarding’s death knell, we have all been building an amazing scene of our own. There is more energy, ideas, style, diversity, and positivity in snowboarding today than ever before.
The increasingly commodified and fragile ski and sporting goods industry was never the right place for the snowboard industry to exist. We need a place of our own – where good business goes hand in hand with a truly responsible marketplace.”

So, what they’ve done is created a fairly diverse invitation cross-section of best brands, and implemented a format that includes a Gallery Wall for showcasing gear, and new way to exhibit altogether, and a meeting space for doing business and networking.

In the middle of July, it’s sometimes hard to think of how the next winter will be shaping-up, but clearly there are changes underway. It will be interesting to see what happens next.