THE RADICAL EDGE OF PORTLAND’S GRENADE SNOWBOARD

 

grenade-gas-bad-religion-jacket-red-14-1JOURNEY FROM BRAZEN OLYMPIAN TO REBEL BRAND

Grenade Gloves is an action sports lifestyle brand that fashions its products with an edgy persona based on the founder – Olympic medalist Danny Kass.  Kass, a Nike-endorsed athlete also has his own line of Nike snowboarding boots.  With Danny’s 2 Olympic Silver Medals, 7 Winter X Medals, and 4 US Open Championships providing the credibility, Grenade’s popularity has grown steadily.  Grenade’s heavily exploited “grenade” graphic can be found everywhere on its clothing, gloves and stickers.  Unsurprisingly, the weapons-grade design was established in America – Portland, Oregon to be precise.  It appeals to a specific niche in the snowboard industry which helps amplify the rebellious aura of youth.  Naturally its main demographic is teenage boys.

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Hoisted onto the national radar by hipster radio-turned-TV show Portlandia – Portland has more than just a hip arts and crafts cottage-industry.  It is also home to a burgeoning snowboarding business scene. Access to year-round training on Mount Hood’s Palmer snowfield provides a canvas for the world’s best snowboarders to carve their lines.  It is also one of the few places where snowboarders outnumber skiers.

gre-unbreakable-j-bk-08Bonfire, Betty Rides and Homeschool are just a few of the small ski apparel brands that call Portland home.  Founded in California in 2006, fast-growing snowboard brand Grenade Gloves offers a line of gloves, apparel and footwear.  Kass moved the company to Portland because it was already warehousing its products there and the appeal of the design talent beckoned.  Like many brands Grenade Glove manufactures most of its products in Asia while keeping design and marketing in Portland.

A few years ago, he shared ownership with businessman Joseph Condorelli, who brought some product management experience.  Grenade grew quickly from a company operating at a loss to a thriving brand with 25 employees in 2011.


STUMBLE, JUST DON’T FALL

In an open letter to the action sports industry, pro snowboarder and Grenade Gloves founder Danny Kass talked about the changes at his brand

Danny Kass apology for the past and explanation for future brand ventures:

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the exciting changes coming up for Grenade Inc. First, I would like to thank you for all of your support throughout the years, I am grateful for every door that you have opened up for me in my life and career. In 2001, my brother and I set out on a radical mission: we wanted to create a new clothing and gloves brand that was out-of-the- box and not like every other lame brand that we had to work for as teenagers. Not because we didn’t respect the successful brands out there that had done so much for our respective sports, but because we wanted to push the boundaries and create a line where you would never hear the phrase “no we can’t do that”.

I am proud to say that there is an incredible new era of Grenade that will be blossoming in front of your eyes – soon you will start to see the new brand direction emerge on the worldwide web as well as at storefronts of our amazing retail partners. When we started this business I never wanted to be the sole owner of the company, because I truly believe it was built with a family, the Grenade Army, and very close friends that shared a common goal as simple as this – to snowboard and skate as much as possible, and travel enough to one day get barreled or hang 10. So as of June 17th, Joseph Condorelli has been let go from his acting role of CEO, and we have completed a full redemption of any and all shares in Grenade Inc. At this stage I am not looking for a “respected business man” to fill the big title as lead of the company. This is our brand and it belongs to our family, so moving forward I will be taking the active role as leader of the company – to bring it back to its roots and return Grenade to the brand that everyone knows it can be.

We have made a lot of mistakes throughout the years, and with a team of some of the best people in the industry we will be fixing and improving in all departments from everything we have learned. I am dedicating my time to ensure this happens, and am really excited to share with you our dedication to board sports and love for all things wild and crazy that Grenade was founded on.

We all know our industry is in a delicate state and times have been harder on some more than others. Fortunately for Grenade we have a well-built KAT (kick ass team) of passionate people that know the industry and our mission. I hope one day you all can join the family at Grenade Inc., but for now I’d like to introduce you to our new upper management team . . .

I’m willing to answer any questions and comments you may have, so please email me at the link below. We are excited to answer and learn from any feed back – even if its just a “heck yeah dude”. And also just to clarify, as a preemptive strike on what many of you may be thinking right now, Yes!! we will be delivering on schedule!

It’s an honor to have worked with so many great friends, athletes, and industry leaders over the years, and looking forward to many more!

Thanks awesome industry.  Thanks friends.  Thanks Matt.

Yours truly,

General of the Grenade Army,

Video Courtesy of Grenade Gloves Youtube Channel

TOWARDS A NEW BEGINNING

Having made a very public admission as to its missteps and early failures Grenade Snowboard has moved forward calling itself Grenade Gloves.  The appeal of Grenade Gloves remains as ever IS the edgy, in-your-face graphics that hold tremendous appeal for young boys especially.  Outside of florescent colored clothing the Grenade Gloves line of clothing is one of the most recognizable branded snowboard apparel on the slopes today.   Now that the company is being steered in a more fiscally viable manner its place in snowboarding is stable.  So long as the appeal lasts amongst the fickle teen demographic we are likely to see this brand persist.

From making its first product – a glove –  in 2001 Grenade has steadily expanded its lifestyle image product lines.  A full line of streetwear, stickers, and accessories was soon followed by technical snowboard outerwear and now Moto X.   Collaborations have been a big part of Grenade’s designs and expansion and none have looked better than when it partners with artists.

sullen_grenade_jacketARTIST COLLABORATIONS

Sullen and Grenade partnered to release an exciting line of art-inspired snow and moto outerwear, skate apparel, and accessories.  The collection made its debut at the ASR and Magic trade shows and represents a part of the Grenade Artist Series.  Art from Sullen Creative Director Ryan Smith can be seen in various renditions across the Grenade line.

grenade-jacket-480x480Another example of the Grenade Artist Series comes from their collaboration with Portland Artist Jesse Reno.  The essence of Reno’s artwork presents nicely on the jacket & glove “canvans” of Grenade’s products.  The result is a functional utility backing up the statement-making design that Grenade’s customer base so desire.

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The Artists Series clothing seems to represent a maturing of the the company without compromising the energetic backbone that distinguishes Grenade from other apparel brands.  The appeal of Grenade clothing and accessories remains rooted in it’s choice of vivid graphics.  Tapping into the artistic community is an exciting vein for growth with benefits shared mutually between artists, customers and communities.