Deep Winter Thoughts: Jake Burton Discusses The New Mine 77 Collection
In 1977 Apple Computer was founded, the Raiders won their first Superbowl and the seminal mini-series Roots was released on ABC. As it pertains to snowboarding it was also the year that Jake Burton Carpenter launched his namesake company. What was created as a passion project targeted to stoner college kids looking to graduate from stand-up sledding to actually surfing the snow, ballooned into a market leading brand as ski area acceptance quickly transformed snowboarding into a billion dollar industry. Technically, snowboarding isn't Jake Burton Carpenter's middle name but the company he began 42 years ago is.
As snowboarding grew Jake and his company kept pace. Beginning in the 90's Jake pivoted Burton's overall mission to become a brand that was focused on providing products that enhanced the riding experience for the most snowboarders possible regardless of gender, size, age, trending, niche affinity, preferred discipline or economic means. This initiative would continue Burton's meteoric growth into the new millennium.
As of late Jake has metaphorically elevated from "father" to "grandfather of snowboarding" and reprioritized his motivations back to developing gear to suit his own wants and needs as opposed to focusing on snowboarding as a whole. The result of this initiative is Mine 77, a limited run, custom collection of wares borne out of Jake's enviably selfish desire to use the resources of his company to kit himself with the stuff that he wants to ride without the constraints of spreadsheets, bean counters, market researchers, minimums and sales managers. With more than four decades of standing sideways within his pedigree and a regimen that still takes him to the hill over 100 days a year, rest assured there's still a little something for everyone within the Mine 77 line.
The following interview took place recently in Vail, Colorado while Jake was taking a break from cheering on riders like Danny Davis and making his yearly sidecountry sojourn down the famed glades of the Minturn Mile.
Pat Bridges: After building Burton into a company that enrichens the riding experience for the snowboarding masses it appears as though Mine 77 is your way of taking four decades of knowledge and insights and focusing it all on an intimate passion project that will improve your own riding enjoyment.
Jake Burton: Yeah. Burton is a big machine. It's not bureaucratic. I would hate to say that because it's not really the word but with Burton there are a lot of people and steps a product goes through before getting released to the public. This is my way of getting back to where it was in the beginning when we were just winging it. I mean, we developed this new Deep Winter line a couple of months ago whereas with everything else at Burton we are currently talking about 2021 products.
Pat: Before we get into Deep Winter what are your takeaways from the launch of Mine 77 in the Fall and the release of that first collection? What was the feedback like?
Jake: It was good. The gear got into the hands of the right people. I think we made the right quantities and it is cool to keep it small. Some stuff we didn't make enough of like the MFI First Layer Shirt. They were gone in a day. That wasn't the intention. We aren't trying to build hype by having shit sell out in three hours. We don't want the gear to just go to collectors or people that have more money than they know what to do with. Sure people are gonna cough up to get this stuff but we are making Mine 77 for people who are truly going to use and enjoy the gear. I just saw a kid riding in the Mine 77 Bibs in the US Open Jr. Jam and that's rewarding. It's cool to see. The pressure of doing it all over again is a little daunting though.
Pat: Moving forward is there carryover from line to line?
Jake: That's a really good question. Carryover wasn't something we perceived in the beginning. The MFI First Layer is so banger. That product doesn't need to be changed. It may need a new print or whatever but it is pretty on point. We are working to make sure the magnet doesn't pop out in the wash but that is a minor thing. We do want to improve everything but the bibs are also pretty dialed in and I know people are feelin' them so there is some carryover product. There's also a bunch of new stuff and new materials. On the fabric side is where a lot of the innovation will come.
Pat: When you and I first starting talking about your Mine 77 initiative in November you said that one of the most satisfying outcomes of it would be for a product or design or piece of technology to get incorporated into the main Burton line. Has that happened?
Jake: Yes. The MFI First Layer Shirt and some other technology has transitioned so yes that has happened. It is as if the rest of Burton has said "mine". I know that if the mothership does it then it will be made as well or better than what we can do with just our Mine 77 resources. Mine 77 has also morphed into a testing grounds or style lab for Burton.
Pat Bridges: Like a skunk works.
Jake: Yes. The other parts of Burton are now coming to me with stuff like the 3-in-1 First Layer Shirt. It wasn't my idea but they brought it to me and I was like, "yes!". Mine 77 served as the ideal testing ground for that concept. This is a great testing ground because the quantities are small and we are able to get something to market quickly to get a good read on how it will be received. I'm sure the 3-in-1 First Layer Shirt is something that will eventually make it into the main line.
Pat: With the Deep Winter line you are making your first foray into Mine 77 boards.
Jake: Yeah. People were leaning on me to do that and as I was figuring out what board to do I started riding the Process and really liking it. I was riding the Con Artist and was more into taper. Mark McMorris is a really dear friend so I thought if we are going to do a Mine 77 Process then why not do it with him. I was riding Flying V1 and I don't know how marketable that is because people are more into straight camber. He got super into it and they went off on the graphics. They really got what they wanted. It is a cool board and the Mystery construction is so insane! It's so light and responsive.
Pat: Up to this point Mine 77 has been very "Jake centric" but with Mark you have expanded the message to be "just because I am into something doesn't mean Mark McMorris isn't into it to."
Jake: Right. Now I want to do a conventional boot. It isn't a Step-On boot and I do ride Step-On bindings. I knew I wouldn't be the one to develop that boot so Danny Davis is doing it.
Pat: You already have the relationships and the short hand dialed in terms of developing product with them over the years so why not?
Jake: Yeah, they are friends and they know it isn't a massive endorsement situation. Like, we aren't going to make thousands of Mark's board. It is a fun play for those guys.
Pat: The first Mine 77 line had unisex pieces.
Jake: And there continues to be unisex gear in the Deep Winter line. The other day Anna Gasser, who has been working with me, was like "we need to make more of the smaller size stuff." More women are into it than we thought and that is an easy fix. Anna then pointed out the need for women's lasts in the boots and that is something that hadn't even crossed my mind. Of course we should do that and we will do that.
Pat: Another takeaway I have from looking at the Deep Winter line is that with the stomp pad and technical t-shirt you have introduced more egalitarian and accessible pieces into the collection. This reinforces the notion that Mine 77 isn't just targeting the elites.
Jake: Like the Mine 77 gym shorts. How many times have you been working out and wished you had zippered pockets so you can keep your shit with you instead of using a locker or carrying a little bag around.
Pat: And that isn't even a snowboarding specific need but a Jake Burton need. Not to put you on the spot what is the one piece from the Deep Winter collection that you are most stoked on?
Jake: The Barback Pack! I have one right here that is already full of booze. It even has a sticker to put on it that says "Fragile."
Pat: And what's next for Mine 77.
Jake: I just know we've gotta keep making shit better which again is the same mindset I've has since the early days of Burton. I'm so down with getting fresh materials. I'm doing another board for next year that I am testing now that is insane but I ride shorter boards. I also need to pull more people into the mix like Mark and Danny and get more influences.