Shredding it on the slopes is a beloved pastime in Central Oregon. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, you likely have a favorite coat along for the ride. It also means you probably wear down that coat and have to replace it.
One big corporation decided to do something about that and has turned to a small Bend company to help customers preserve that gear while also helping the environment.
An eight team members from Burton, a mega snowboard and apparel company, visited Bend earlier this month to learn from alterations company Rugged Thread.
“We were looking at all of their items for designing for repair, eventually the goal is to produce more products that can be repaired more easily,” said Rugged Thread Founder and CEO Kim Kinney.
“We partnered with them in 2019 and they helped with some of the more technical repairs,” said Kyle Smith with Burton’s soft goods department. “We do a lot of repairs in house in Burlington but we quickly realized that in order to reach some of our sustainability goals of 50% by 2025 that we were going to need some help.”
Repair. Not replace. It’s a new direction for Burton at a time when saving what you have can equate to saving the planet.
“There’s that nostalgic, those memories that you have with that piece that you build over time, and that’s something that’s pretty irreplaceable,” said Kim
“It just makes sense environmentally a lot of times if you are issued a replacement product, the damaged ones just end up in the landfill, there’s not a place for it to go, we don’t have a ton of recycling facilities yet,” said Josie Kinney, Rugged Thread’s Director of Business Development.
Rugged Thread has already been acting as Burton’s warranty repair house, fixing damaged items purchased in the United States. As Burton uses new techniques to offer more repair options, that means a heftier load for Rugged Thread.
“Burton is one of our key accounts and we’re on a scaling trajectory so that means we’re going from 6,000 repairs a year to 14, 20,000 repairs a year,” said Kim. “What does that mean to Central Oregon? It’s really great because we’re able to employ, this is a craft skill so we’re able to employ and train people who really want to learn how to sew.”
It will take a couple of years before the methods learned in the workshop will show up in Burton’s products.
‘The hope is that this resonates with our consumer, it makes everybody feel good to get their jacket back, especially when they’ve made those memories over the years with it,” said Kim.
“It’s really cool to see the whole outdoor industry moving towards a more circular economy and repairs is one of those keys in there that kind of has to happen in there in order for circularity to happen,” said Josie.