For those that are unaware, what is Vimana?
Vimana is a new Scandinavian snowboard hard-goods brand with a completely fresh approach.
You’ve been in the industry a long time, what was your background before starting Vimana and what was the drive to create something new?
When I was 19 years old I rode for a Norwegian board shop called Session. One day the owner of the shop Bjarne asked me if I wanted to have a go at running one of the two shops. I agreed and made a deal to purchase 51% of that shop.
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at the time but I want all in and we really clicked well. For the next 13 years we built Session into Norway’s biggest chain of board shops with over one hundred employees and 17 branches. Session`s snowboard team was the sickest in the world and still is, with team riders like Torstein Horgmo, Ståle Sandbech, JP Solberg, Fredrik Austbo and Andreas Wiig to name a few.
Over the years I`ve seen brands come and go. I have seen how hard it is to make it as a core shop and I had a vision to make it better and in 2013 I said to myself it`s now or never, so Session and me parted ways on really friendly terms.
Pursuing this new venture with Vimana is super exciting and kind of scary at the same time. It`s another “all in” adventure I guess.
You have, boards, boots and bindings for year one, that’s a big move and I’ve seen a really positive response. What sets Vimana apart from another board start up brand?
Well, as said it is an “all-in” adventure. Nothing is half ass, our riders must approve all our products regardless of price point. Our line is divided into two separate lines, one is our LTD (limited editions), which follows the “this years model” cycle, and one is our AWS (Always In Stock) line.
The AWS is your high-end boards, boots and bindings at an affordable price point. Our team riders use all of these products.
The LTD is our limited edition graphics on juiced up gear. We want everyone on a budget to be able to buy high-end gear, instead of buying low-grade cheaper equipment from a bigger brand. All our boards are made in the EU, supporting EU workers that make the best boards with no compromise.
The brand has a nostalgic 90’s feel to it, like the good old days. What message do you want to portray with Vimana?
Vimana is all about simplicity. Our approach is clean cut Scandinavian design mixed with high-end engineering. If you have a look at graphics today they look like how we dressed 10 years ago, all over prints, crazy color combos etc. Vimana is different; our visual statement is black and white, we bring some nice colours but with quiet tones in tone layouts.
We are definitely influenced by brands from the 90`s like Atlantis etc. but we mix that with our own influences from the future.
Isn’t this a really bad time to start a board company?
Yeah, you may think so. Big name riders are getting cut, brands are cutting down their budgets to the minimum and some are even stepping out of the business. It`s kind of like an all time low.
And that my friend is the perfect moment. We are fully adjusted to the state of our industry, we are bringing some new ideas to the table and we are bringing a game-changing plan for both our core retailers and our consumers.
You have got a solid team including Makku Koski, Freddy Austbø, Saku Tillaikainen and Thomas Iversen. Will you be signing riders from outside Scandinavia? And how much involvement do the riders get in Vimana?
Fredrik Austbo is a long-time friend and overall ripper. He called up the silent assassin Markku Koski and we brought back the A-team. Both Markku and Fredrik are some of my favourite style kings. To work and travel with those guys is unreal, they bring such an über positive vibe to Vimana. Saku and Thomas got signed shortly after for our am team. The whole team clicks really well together and feeds off of each other. We don`t tell our riders to do anything they don`t like, we believe in backing up the riders on whatever path they choose. Our team is the most important input we have. They are our judges and jury and we work closely together to get you some awesome products.
As for all being Scando’s, it was just a natural thing to launch the brand with Scandinavian riders. The future will show how the team evolves but we are working on something cool at the moment…
What products are you personally most stoked with?
The Pharomana is a great shred, soft flex but juiced up with our Kevlar/Carbon blend. It’s got so much pop you don’t have to buy a lift ticket, just Ollie the bars.
Our boots and bindings also turned out great, It`s been 2 years of R&D before any of the products hit the shops.
You’ve been working closely with Peter-John de Villiers who is quickly building up a really strong portfolio as an amazing artist. Is he leading the design front of Vimana? Does he get complete free reign on the products?
I have been working with PJ at Session before, so kind of knew each other already. He was meant to be a guest artist but we work so well together and he really helped set our visual statement. He works with a pencil and paper; the shit that comes out, is out of this world. He is by far my favourite artist and he is definitely a big part of the brand.
We usually sit down and do a brainstorm, some will last for hour’s even days and some, like the Pharomana, took like 2 minutes. He then goes into his creative state and stays there till the end. It`s amazing to see his progress and yeah, he basically he has a complete free reign inside the Vimana universe as I wouldn’t want to mess with his creativity.
Where would you like to see Vimana in five years time?
Time will tell. At the moment we are working blind because the brand has not yet launched, only a few outside people have seen the whole range but the feedback so far is awesome. We want to evolve into a brand that is easy to recognize with our visual statement and great quality boards, boots and bindings. Snowboarding is definitely the most fun you can have and it will fulfill your life.
This is just the beginning.