CATCHING UP WITH AUTUMN HEADWEAR'S BRAD ALBAND
CATCHING UP WITH AUTUMN HEADWEAR'S BRAD ALBAND
Keep reading to meet Autumn's founder Brad Alband and to discover more about the brand, its origins and inspirations.
Autumn is a true breath of fresh air in our stores. Where did the name come from? Thank you, that means a lot to hear coming from you guys. The name actually took a little bit to land on. We knew we wanted to do a beanie/headwear brand and had a list of names going for a few months. I knew I wanted something that had feeling behind it and I started going down some paths of words associated with Winter and the mountains. That started feeling too literal and when I pulled back a little bit further and thought about when things change, the season just became the obvious choice. It’s really our time of year when there are these natural signs that the best is yet to come - the drop in temperature, the shorter days, the light gives off a different glow…you can sense it.
You worked for a few different skate/snow related businesses over the past few years (Kr3w, Volcom, Thirty Two, Gnarly, etc). What motivated you to stop working for another brand and to start your own? I think to put it best, I wanted the control. I know that sounds a little cocky, but at those brands mentioned although I loved my time and am proud about what we did at all of them, I didn’t always agree with things that were done or put out. That is part of working as a team and learning to work together. For Autumn, I wanted to see if all that I had learned over the years and the way I felt about our industry and a brand’s place in it could be done still the way I thought was right. It’s a very interesting time right now where the bigger brands are almost the only options, especially in snow. In skate you’re seeing more small brands pop up and connect in a real way because their intention is right. I want to create autumn to compliment those brands in skate and be a leading voice in snow for taking back some of the culture that makes it special.
What is Autumn doing differently from all these other brands you worked for? So I wouldn’t say we’re doing anything differently, but I would say there is an advantage to being new and not having sales data to lean on and in most cases, dictate direction. When you’re a young brand it’s your duty to bring some fresh ideas to the market. Whether that be the products, the way you market, the people involved…if you’re coming out with the same things buyers and customers have seen repeatedly, there’s really no reason for you to exist.
So differently? I’d say from headwear we want to highlight colors, patterns, and textures. We are building out a fit story for beanies similar to how you would buy your bottoms- you know your fit and expect consistency to that fit. We have 3 main fits that for FW21 will have 8-9 styles of beanies for each. we want to be known as beanie experts like a Levi’s to denim.
From team/ambassadors, its all about style- on & off the board. Autumn will not be sponsoring based on contests, exposure, or number of followers. We want people with unique and authentic personal style that translates to how they push, how they link a turn, make music or express creativity. That’s not usually what a marketing director is looking for…
You guys do beanies, but also offer a wide variety of items that seem to be as good for boarding than for usual everyday life. How would you define Autumn? I think we’re still trying to define that honestly. we want to be known for our headwear primarily. We also love working with different artists for our printables program. there are so many creative people in and around skateboarding and snowboarding, we want our printables to highlight their interpretation of the brand, the season, the feelings of both.
I think the biggest question mark is for me and what I helped build previously at 32, Volcom snow and gnarly and if I explore more of the on-hill/off-hill tops and bottoms categories. Right now we’re doing some after-ride loungewear that scratches that design itch for me a little, but there is a huge hole in the market for a brand to be this hybrid between techwear and street. Maybe autumn isn’t it and there’s opportunity for something with a different name that compliments what we’re going to do here? That’s probably more likely…
What role did skateboarding and snowboarding play in your brand building process? It’s the heart and soul of it. So much of our industry right now is looking outside of skate and snow for their influences. I think the industry internally is aging and a lot of people at brands want to identify with outdoor more than what’s in front of them. I understand that market is bigger, but I don’t think its cooler. I don’t think it has the personalities and creatives that skate and snow have. I think there’s a lot of underestimating our culture right now and what we could do as an industry if we all put focus on the people, the stories of what’s going on globally.
The Autumn athlete team is stacked with some of the best skateboarders and snowboarders on the planet. What do you guys look for in an athlete? I kind of touched on it earlier, but I would say someone involved with Autumn is not the new-normal sponsored athlete. This is going to date me, but I started working in a skate/snow shop in the mid-90’s and I knew right away I wanted to be involved with this for the rest of my life not because I loved to skateboard or snowboard, but because i loved the people around skateboarding and snowboarding. It’s a different breed of human. That’s changed over the 25 years as its grown and more people have come in, but there is a distinct group who still have that DNA of just being different and being ok with it. that’s Autumn.
We love the fact that there’s also an artistic side to Autumn, especially with the Artist Series apparel selection. How do you guys pick your artists? There’s a natural group based on riders who are doing really cool things- Griffin Siebert, Bryan Fox, Kennedi Deck, Franky Villani…creatives on & off that we can highlight them both ways.
Outside of that though, I find some of the most interesting work is being done by people associated with skate & snow retailers. The people doing their shop tees, deck graphics, etc. they’re sort of like us, where they’re just doing what they like because no one is telling them it’s supposed to be done a certain way. I think that shows in a lot of the best stuff in the market right now is shop’s private label programs. It feels real and we appreciate that.
Judging by Autumn's website, you guys love and embrace the changes and transitions coming with seasons. What’s the one thing you like the most about each season?
Spring: A random April powder day at Mammoth Mountain
Summer: Mexico beaches
Fall: City downtowns in the rain with leaves on the ground
Winter: Chair lift rides with friends. Pull up a seat…