Interview by Jeff Schmuck
Photos courtesy of FD Virtika
Hey Lesh, how have things been?
Schmuck, good to hear from you mang! Things have been good, we’ve just been renovating the warehouse and getting everything dialed for when our gear arrives. We’re pretty excited for the season, Colorado has already been getting snow in the high country so our heads have been filled with thoughts of skiing and sledding.
Paul, David, and Nick conducting business as usual.
Last year was one of the worst snow years in history. How did that affect you guys?
Sales were actually way up from the year before. It sounds like retail shops and larger, less flexible companies were the ones that really had a tough time. We heard all kinds of horror stories from shops around the world; going out of business, liquidating inventory, not paying their bills, etc. I guess it was a great year to sell direct!
Graffiti artist friends Taste and Emit stop by to put together a custom tag for the warehouse.
How was your summer? What did you and the FD crew get up to?
Our summer was pretty mellow, but lots of fun. We spent most of it in the Midwest (Chicago, Madison and Minneapolis). We actually just released a new edit to show what summers are like in the Midwest. Enjoy!
A Midwest Summer
Chasing double rainbows. Naturally.
Filming near Madison, Wisconsin for A Midwest Summer.
David Lesh meets President Obama and hooks him up with some FD.
What’s the latest on the FD Virtika team?
Well, B and Lyndon spent the season down in NZ; skiing, competing, shooting, etc. B ended up winning the NZ Open Big Mountain contest (congrats B!), and Lyndon was back home training and coming back from a knee injury. Tosh was out at Hood; skiing, coaching, and filming, and you can check out his summer edit here…
Tosh Peters' Summer Edit
New Zealand rider Lyndon Sheehan training at Snow Park, NZ.
B Devine at Mammoth...
...and winning the NZ Open Big Mountain competition.
We also signed Texas rapper Nick Pratt to the FD team this summer; he’s got a great style, and you can hear his music and learn more about him by clicking here. Josh Stack’s has been crushing it for us as usual, and his new banger segment with Poor Boyz Productions can now be seen in their new film, WE, A Collection of Individuals. Stack is a backcountry machine and kills it so hard on skis, snowboard, sled, etc. We’re excited to see what he puts together this season. And in more recent news, we just signed Paul ‘B-Paul’ Bergeron to the FD Virtika team. Paul has really turned some heads (including ours) in the past few years with smooth style and tons of creativity. He’s also a really kind, positive, motivated, all-around good guy. He’ll be traveling around the country this winter for the Inspired Media Tour with Iberg, B-Dog, and E-Dollo, stopping at little hills to ski, make edits, sign autographs, and get kids stoked on skiing. I think it’s a great concept that provides a unique opportunity to lots of out-of-the-way places. We look forward to having Paul on the program, and for more info on the Inspired Demo Tour, check out http://www.inspireddemotour.com.
Paul 'B-Paul' Bergeron, the newest addition to the FD team.
What’s new product-wise for FD Virtika this year?
For outerwear, we’re offering two designs (V3 and V4) in a total of 15 colorways. We made some minor tweaks here and there to our new Virtika gear, but overall the construction is very similar to last year. We had almost zero warranty issues, and got some really positive feedback on the improved quality of our gear. We are in constant pursuit to improve everything we make and want our gear to be the absolute best, so four of us spent a month in China last year going around to check out new factories. It was an incredible experience, and we were fortunate to find one of the best outerwear factories in the world. They make most of the high-end European brands. We contracted with them for all our Virtika V3 and V4 outerwear.
China, always an adventure.
Exploring some of the local markets.
Our accessories have also come a long way, but we still wanted to improve a few things, mainly our hoodies, so we found a new factory and completely redesigned them. They now all have huge, #8 tooth zippers, better stitching, and improved fit/sizing. We are producing a number of limited items including the Newschoolers collab t-shirt and pull-over hoodie, which we are super excited about, along with letter jackets, various t-shirts, thermals, etc. We are working on a few other products right now that we’ll be testing this winter for production next year. You can expect everything we make will stand up to our high quality standards.
Behind the scenes tour at one of our new factories.
FD received both strong praise and disapproval over the last year for marketing tactics that at times pushed the boundaries of what we’re used to seeing here on Newschoolers. What are your thoughts on that?
Honestly, we were really surprised at how easily we can get reactions out of some people in the ski world. We thought our marketing was relatively mellow, but it seems the ski industry is used to a much more subdued form of advertisement and self-expression. It’s really too bad, I had no idea the ski industry had become so cookie cutter and lame. Skiing was born from a counter culture and it’s strange to see such conservative, close-minded people getting involved with our ever-growing sport. It’s been incredible how supportive Newschoolers and many Newschoolers members have been since the beginning though. As freestyle skiing grows, it’s great to know that we aren’t the only ones who want the sport to be pushed towards a more diverse, fun, interesting place.
David Lesh jumping his sled for the controversial “Last Friday” video.
What is in store for you guys in the next few weeks?
We’ve got a lot on our plate right now. We’re hosting the annual Boulder, Colorado Pro Sale this year on October 14th, where tons of pros, industry people, and local companies sell their new/used gear at super low prices. It’s a great opportunity to meet the pros, get autographs, and hang out. We’ll be supplying free beer, food, DJ’s, etc. It should be a great time, so be sure to check out the Facebook event page for more info. We’re also sponsoring a ton of events including the entire Poor Boyz Triple Threat Tour, various early season rail jams, and events like the La Familia “Pray For Snow Party”, which takes place in Boulder on October 18th. And on top of all that, our gear is arriving in the next few weeks, so we’ll be shipping around the clock. Our pre-orders have been going really fast this year; we’ve already sold out of some sizes/colors. This week is the last chance for people to get our special pre-order pricing and free hoodies, beanies, balaclavas and bandanas on outerwear pre-orders, as we’ll be raising prices on Friday at Midnight.
Graham Owen at Breckenridge.
David Lesh enjoying some Swiss pow.
Thanks for the update Lesh! Anything else to add?
Just a big thanks to everyone who continues to support us, we really appreciate it! FD was founded and molded using your feedback, and we look forward to continue interacting with our customers to produce gear just the way you guys like it. Just be free!