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Burton’s 1997 Rumors T-Shirt vs. Reality


January 20, 2012
By: Editors of Boardistan

In 1997 Burton Snowboards was at the nexus of a storm of rumors. The rumors were so pervasive that some clever instigator at the company created an extremely limited edition T-shirt for the 1997 SIA Trade Show in Las Vegas. The shirt jokingly outlined all the outlandish, outrageous things people were saying about the company that season.

Now, 15 years later, we thought it might be interesting to revisit the T-shirt that set out to sarcastically dispel the rumors and see how many of them eventually came true. Follow the jump for the complete rumor breakdown.

1. Burton is going public.

False. Burton is still a privately held company that seems to be doing just fine financing everything from their own reportedly deep pockets. While finance people often wonder about Jake and Donna’s “exit strategy” it would appear that their currently level of involvement in the brand would suggest that they are still interested in keeping all their financial information to themselves for the time being.

2. Burton is going direct.

True. While we always thought it silly that Burton didn’t sell direct as soon as it was technologically possible, they waited until around 2005 to begin selling softgoods direct and didn’t sell snowboards, boot, bindings on their website until the fall of 2009.

3. Burton is making skis, skateboards, wakeboards, and in-line skates next year.

Mostly true. Burton still has not to our knowledge made skis, wakeboards, or in-line skates, however, they do currently own (for a little longer at least) DNA Distribution (Alien Workshop and Habitat Skateboards), they make street wear with Analog, shoes with Gravis and they most certainly are making surfboards as the owner of the surf industry’s leading manufacturer Channel Islands Surfboards. The basis of the rumor was that Burton would expand outside the snowboard market as a way of increasing revenue and in that way the rumor is completely true.

4. Burton sized their bindings down this year so Airwalk boots wouldn’t fit them.

Most likely false. While it could be up for discussion exactly why Burton decided to change the heel cup size of their bindings (their reason was always that they wanted to create a better boot-binding interface), history suggests that Airwalk’s three year run (1993 to 1996) as the number one selling snowboard boot ended shortly after Burton’s binding changes. This is most likely a coincidence as some involved with Airwalk at the time say the company’s failure had absolutely nothing to do with Burton’s bindings and more to do with Airwalk’s loss of focus during their entry into snowboards, outerwear, and step-in bindings.