If you haven’t noticed we’re big on pop-ups. It’s a chance for our partners to introduce their brand to the Venice community in an impactful way. It’s an opportunity to tell their story to our customer and we’d be lying if we said they didn’t help drive sales too.
For our December pop-up we’ve partnered with three winter focused brands. Venice based outerwear brand Cold Smoke, Japanese out-door brand Snow Peak and Gentemstick, a alternative snowboard brand that has generated a cult following over the 18 years for their alternative approach to snow board design. To help us get a better understanding about the iconic Japanese brand we grabbed Dominique Churiki aka Domi and asked him a few questions.
-Can you tell me a bit about the brand?
Domi: Gentemstick is a Japanese snowboard brand founded in 1998. We're based in Niseko, which is claimed to be the powder mecca of Japan. Our founder, Taro Tamai, is one of the Japanese snowboarding pioneers. He's started snowboarding when it was called snow-surfing and kept the essence throughout the years without the influence of the mainstream, heavily skateboard influenced, mass-marketed, mass-produced,big-money funded sports.
- What makes Gentem Stick boards so special?
Domi: Functional beauty, Attention to details and precision, limited production, effortless and outstanding powder riding design, yet un-compromised carving performance on the hard pack. People usually think they're powder boards because of the shape, but they always come back amazed how good they perform on the groomers once they tried. Aesthetically, we believe we should leave the board speak for itself. A simple and functional shape is naturally beautiful. The graphic should be something that enhances the beauty of the shape.
- The shapes are very unique, did it take a while for people to get behind them?
Domi: Yes. We've been making those boards for almost 20 years. For the first 10 years, people didn't really pay much attention, but as "powder riding" and got more and more attention, people would start realizing how efficient those designs were.I also suppose people were getting bored of seeing the same old thing over and over again. Our shapes, although they were not so, appeared new and fresh. Next thing you know, most brands are coming up with designs that looks strangely familiar. I supposed it's the highest form of flattery.
- What’s the best conditions for them?
Domi: 4-6ft @20 seconds, glassy, light offshore breeze with nobody out but your crew. Haha, just kidding. (Ed’s note: These are conditions used to describe perfect waves in surfing) Though, we think that it's the same as surfboards. Each shape is different and have conditions that suits better for some than others. All our boards are designed to perform on any kind of snow, but probably not the most suitable board to throw a 1080 off a kicker or double corks on a halfpipe.
So for best conditions, I'd say 2 foot of fresh untracked powder, freshly groomed morning resort courses and smoothly thawing spring corn are the best conditions for riding our boards.
- How did the brand come about?
Domi: Taro Tamai, our founder, has been a professional rider for several brands during the 80s and 90s. Although he has been trying to bring his insights on board design to the brands, he never had a chance to have a board to fully satisfy his needs. The only option was to start his own brand in order to have no restrictions on design boards.
Gentemstick started in 1998 with 20 boards of 1 single model, ever since Taro has been expanding the lineup with all original and innovative designs.
- If you could ride one mountain for the rest of your life which would it be?
Domi: That's a tough one to answer, so many attractive mountains all around the world...
But since Niseko is my home, I'd say Mt Yotei, which is the iconic volcano in Niseko area of Japan. No chairlifts, but endless lines to do.
- What’s next for the brand?
Domi: Stay committed to the essence of Snow-surfing.
On the business side of things, we're on the process of setting up a north-american distribution system to make it easier for Americans/Canadians to see/touch/ride our boards.
All photos of Domi by Pascal Shirley