From warmer and more durable clothing to increased functionality of equipment and better materials, the outdoor world has seen a wonderful progression over the years. There are plenty of brands that are pushing things forward in one way or another, but when it comes to championing women and producing women’s clothing, Roxy is THE name of the game.
It’s a brand created by women and doing things that not only improve the quality of the product, but also shine a light on the (hopefully) gender disparity in the action sports community.
Roxy was the first female-specific action sports brand when it was born out of Quiksilver in 1990, tracing its origins back to the birth of freestyle, snowboarding and twin-dumper culture in many ways. Although Roxy didn’t officially enter the snow world until 2003, their involvement in surfing made the transition to snowboarding and then freeskiing a natural fit.
In 1993, Roxy took a big step forward with an innovative board short for women. It was designed by a team of female designers and married function and fashion for women in surfing. Its impact, however, went beyond surfing, as it raised the bar of what could and should be made available in terms of women’s gear. Product aside, Roxy has also played a major role as a sponsor of industry legends, with a stacked list of names like Lisa Andersen, Sarah Burke and Torah Bright. The team continues to inspire the brand, the product and the consumer. Roxy has gone to great lengths to support athletes who wear their apparel in many ways, from the long-running “Chicken Jam” snow competition series, to supporting women hitting the streets long before it became somewhat common in snowboarding.
In December, Roxy organized the first on-snow part of her “Make Waves, Move Mountains” camp. An immersive days of team building, the camp connects Roxy athletes with an emphasis on a mentor and mentee type setup. It’s about “bringing in our athletes who are more experienced and have progressed in their careers, who have been to the Olympics or the X-Games, etc., and put them in contact with beginners who are starting everything just to understand their career. they’re just starting to hang out more and create a situation where they can get to know each other and also learn from each other,” says Roxy Team Manager Jenna Kuklinski.
When it comes to the team, the focus is on supporting athletes who want to give back and how their partnership with Roxy can enable that. When asked how Roxy continues the legacy of community influence, Kuklinski described the importance of being “deliberate in campaign choices, media features, what could be improved and how we can influence change through every facet we do”, be it surf or snow related. The progression of women in these spaces “will not happen overnight, it will not be perfect or comprehensive. It’s things like doing this team camp, we affect all the athletes we have here building on the themes of connection and inclusivity.
“We had the first make waves/move mountains camp, surf edition, which took place in France last May,” Kuklinski said of the creation of the program. The idea came to look at how we can help foster the growth of our athletes and work to connect them all together with a focus on a mentor/mentee type setup. Bringing in our athletes who are more experienced and have progressed in their careers, who have been to the Olympics or X-Games, etc., and connect them with newbies who are just beginning to understand their careers, they’re just starting to hang out more and create a situation where they can get to know each other and also learn from each other.
It created a space for fun, team building, and certainly some good old-fashioned shenanigans among the young women involved.
Maggie Voison and Tess Ledeaux were on the athlete roster at Copper’s camp. Lebeaux has been on the Roxy team since 2017, but Voison is a recent addition – and certainly a great choice to have on the roster given his success on the pageant scene as well as his recent video.”fast current“, showing a stint in the backcountry shooting game.
Voison is a great addition to the team for a number of reasons, but the relationship she was able to nurture with Roxy feels like a turning point for her career.
“For me, I’ve come to this point in my career…and it’s really hard to explain because obviously I’m doing something really cool, I’m doing what I love. But I have those times when I struggle with what I’m doing and wonder if I’m doing something to make the world a better place?” she tells me. “I’m so grateful to have had so many opportunities and I realize that, whether through sponsors or my career, but having the chance to participate in making a difference is really meaningful to me. It’s the perfect time to partner with Roxy because of all these conversations I’ve had about what I can do to make a difference. They do, and hopefully I can inspire some of the rising women, as well as bring more to the sport in the first place. It is in this direction that I want to go with my sponsors whom I represent and who represent me.
Voison continues to talk about his journey ahead and his goals.
“Later, I hope to work with organizations that are also making a difference. I just lost my brother to suicide and realized I could use my ski platform to join organizations, open up conversation and create change. It’s crazy to think that at 23 I’ve already had this incredible and successful career, but for some reason, and I think it’s just being human, I’m not necessarily fulfilled. It’s not like I need more medals, it’s like “what can I do with my life when I wake up and know I’m making a difference every day”.
Voison clearly continues to achieve great things through competition, with Beijing 2022 on the agenda as his third Olympics. But she is looking beyond that side of things now.
“It’s so cool to be part of a brand that doesn’t want you just because of your discipline. Like they don’t want me on the team just because I’m a competitive skier. I I thought I had to be a competitive skier to get to where I am in my career, but being around all these girls shows me that’s just not true. There are girls here who are focused on totally different paths. It’s important that there are brands that just want to represent people for what they love to do, whether it’s the streets, pow or pageants.
It’s important to support disciplines like street and film, as these are criminally underrepresented genres in women’s skiing. For the next generation, it is crucial to know that there are different ways to succeed outside of the realm of the podium. The brands that support film projects and the base are the backbone of ski culture, and it’s great that Roxy is stepping into that direction.
On a more corporate level, Roxy is also home to inspiring personalities. As Voison herself pointed out, “Having two female crew chiefs who have experience in the snow is really great, and they have different enough backgrounds that their combined knowledge is incredible.” Jenna Kuklinsky has toured the neighborhood with experience working in different outerwear brands, always with a focus on women-centric businesses and events. Nirvana Ortanez came from a career as an athlete and has traveled the world on the streets and released many video parts who are sick, whether you like to have a plank or two.
Having two women working in management is also quite a unique thing, but hopefully that will change. It’s refreshing, and it’s important for people, especially women and anyone who doesn’t identify with the “straight white male” persona that dominates this industry, to see that there is a multitude of paths one can take to work in the outdoor industry. this is not the way to become a professional athlete. There are roles in team management, roles in filmmaking and photography, roles in brand involvement or even just grassroots activism, and those roles are just as important as those played on our screens. It’s also beneficial for the women on the team, as it eliminates the factor of being compared to male counterparts, as often happens when the team leader is a man.
Roxy’s structure gives an element of representation for women in the industry, but the brand’s goal of building community was the biggest lesson from my time at Copper. Overall, it’s about using the channels you have to create space for what’s important, which ultimately, whether it’s skiing, surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding or whatever, is the growth of the community. That’s exactly what Roxy does, on a large and small scale, and it’s really cool to see.