California-based clothing company 686 has announced the addition of Parker White to its team—a team that, until today, was comprised entirely of snowboarders.
This announcement comes in congruence with 686’s recent decision to branch out of snowboarding to focus on wintersports in a broader sense; the brand hopes to welcome additional skiers to its roster of sponsored riders and by extension, expand its customer base.
“At most shops, we already see 686 on the cusp in between skiing and snowboarding,” says Brent Sandor, the company’s vice president of marketing. “We have a history as a core snowboarding brand but we have been evolving since the inception of our GLCR outerwear three years ago. It’s really right on the edge, so we can take advantage of being on that cusp and we are excited to let skiers know we’re all-in with Parker.”
It’s no secret that skiing and snowboarding outerwear is really no different at the end of the day; every brand does its best to make products that will withstand the harshest of winters. Pat McCarthy, 686 team manager and field marketing coordinator, says the brand is ready to embrace that idea and break into new territory.
“As we were developing our new GLCR Collection, we realized our brand should be more about mountain culture and mountain people, not just snowboarders,” he says. “We want 686 to be more of a brotherhood amongst people enjoying the outdoors, and not be fueling any sort of separation.”
Brent, Pat and the rest of the team decided that starting out by supporting just one athlete would be the best way to move forward with its new vision. Parker White proved to be the ideal fit. His name first came up through talks with Forest Bailey, one of 686’s snowboarding athletes who grew up with White in Vermont.
“[Bailey and White] were just a couple of groms growing up together,” says McCarthy. “They never looked at each other as different, they just were stoked to go hit the mountain, skate afterwards and be around each other. It seems like the perfect synergy to bring them together on the 686 team, while not putting a big emphasis on the whole skier versus snowboarder thing.”
The staff at 686 trusted Forest’s word and brought Parker down to their Gardena, California headquarters a couple of times over the summer to talk business and get to know each other. Things clicked immediately for both parties.
“Right off the bat, it was just so easy, so mellow and just felt like such a good fit with all those dudes,” says White. “It wasn’t weird at all. I just went in there and everyone made me feel super at home right away. I had a bunch in common with a lot of the people and was just stoked.”
White shares the mentality with 686 that splitting up skiers and snowboarders in any way is a waste of time. After growing up with Bailey and spending time with many other one-planking friends, the divide doesn’t make sense to him.
“At the end of the day, there shouldn’t be any weird ego or animosity over something as petty as a sport. To me, that’s just bizarre,” he says. “They’re  making this big push into skiing, yeah, but they’re also just bringing on more like-minded individuals and they’re not discriminating about sports.”
Looking ahead, 686 wants to continue with its swift push into skiing largely by leaning on White. Much like they’ve let Bailey help bring snowboarders onto the team, they’ll count on White to find skiers who fit the mold.
“We’re going to do this organically, not through buying a ton of riders, media or events,” says Sandor. “Throwing a ton of money at a goal and hoping it works has been kind of a shame for a lot of brands. We’re trying to grow through the seed that is Parker White.”
A wise seed to plant, if we don’t say so ourselves.