If you’re having trouble finding your size in ski clothes then a new web retailer may have the answer.
Monica Balon knows ski and snowboard gear. As the second generation retailer of one of Melbourne’s most beloved ski and snowboard families, you may know ‘Mon’ from her days (twenty years) working at Ski and Snowboard Surrey before they closed their doors and took the business solely online.
Now she’s set to open Australia’s first plus size online ski store for men and women looking for outerwear from sizes 16 to 26 for women or up to 9XL for men.
“Last year, in my first year purely as an online trader, I found a great demand for the plus size stock I did have and all my customers were so appreciative of me supplying gear which was near impossible to find” explains Mon of her latest venture.
“That’s how they found me, they turned to their computer when their local ski shop didn’t have their size available. The jackets and pants which I did have in stock sold out really quickly and one of my customers suggested that I should have a website dedicated to it.
I thought it was a great idea! It’s a very specialised area, a niche in a niche. Plus all my customers are so happy and appreciative to find something that fits them they are a really lovely group of customers.”
Being a ski and snowboard retailer in Australia isn’t traditionally easy. Seasons are short and unpredictable and stock must be moved fast.
“The short season means there is a whole lot to do in a short time and I think plus size snow gear is just thrown into the too hard basket” says Mon.
“Snow retailers need to buy stock which is relatively ‘safe’ and can be turned over each season, otherwise you’re carrying your stock for another 9 months costing you money.
In my former stock we used to stock a small range of plus sizes snow gear for sale as well as a range of hire gear. To put it bluntly, the retail plus sized stock took up a lot of floor space and wasn’t a hot selling product. I think it’s more suited to online, as that’s where people turn when they can’t find what they need at their local ski shop.”
Searching for ski gear can be daunting if you don’t fit into the one size fits all, or four sizes fits all, mentality of mainstream brands. Trying on ski pants can be as depressing as trying on swimwear and can leave you feeling shame and misery. That’s not what skiing and snowboarding is about, a sport that relishes in outdoor activity designed to boost the spirits.
Many women that Mon spoke to would wear inappropriate men’s winter jackets as they couldn’t find anything to fit, or they would just miss out on the family holiday as they couldn’t join in on the fun and stay warm.
“They also talked about not being able to even pull on the pants as they couldn’t fit over their curvy hips, and also the pant legs and arm lengths being so long it was ridiculous and they felt terrible and embarrassed in the poorly fitting gear” says Mon.
“As sizes get higher, they don’t get bigger in all areas, there’s only so long someone’s legs and arms can grow! There was an element of people being embarrassed about the sizes they are buying.
Everyone knows ski gear makes you look and feel bigger than you already are, so for customers to be able to try on gear in the privacy and comfort of their own homes, it’s an attractive option.
With the diminishing presence of ski shops in Australia, finding a local ski shop which stocks your size outside of the range of ‘normal’ is just getting too hard. I do know first hand that operating in the ski industry requires you to make some tough decisions and unfortunately catering to plus sized people is not a safe bet for many in an already precarious industry.”
PlusSnow.com.au is set to officially launch in time for the Australian ski season opening on June 11.