I’ve always been kind of obsessed with the concept of “cool”. Even as a kid, I understood how the clothes you wear are a major component of that.
I grew up in Canada where winter sports dominate, and I started skiing when I was just four years old. By my late-teens, I had been ski racing in international competitions for years.
The role of style in ski apparel was fascinating to me. The functionality and technical performance could give skiers a competitive edge, but so could the style. To me, it was obvious. If the clothes you wore enhanced your confidence, it would enhance your performance on the hill. Mostly, I just loved the aesthetic of the ski apparel at the time and was especially influenced by the style of European brands.
The Beginning of Bored of Authority®
When I ended my ski racing career in my early 20s, I was eager to launch myself into the apparel business but wasn’t quite sure where to start.
It was 1987 and I had been living out my childhood dream of ski coaching in Whistler, Canada for the last five years. As a newcomer to the west coast, I was acutely aware of how casual clothing was heavily influenced by California surf culture. I sensed a trend and gravitated towards it.
Me and some friends in Whistler circa 1982. I drove cross-country, from Ottawa to Whistler and back, more times than I can count on one hand.
I wanted to be the first to export this new west coast surf style to the Canadian east, so I moved back to my hometown of Ottawa and opened a small surf shop called Board of Authority.
The shop didn’t do great at first, considering that Ottawa is landlocked and surfing, well, requires an ocean. I soon realized that the west coast surf-style I loved so much manifested in Ottawa most similarly through the sport of skateboarding. There was a lot of natural crossover between the two sports, and skateboarding (aka “sidewalk surfing”) was quickly constructing an identity and industry of its own.
I can’t take too much credit for turning to skateboarding when I did. It was the local kids coming into my shop who put me on the idea — all I did was listen. In 1987, I started making Bored of Authority® (BOA) streetwear for skaters.
Seizing the Snowboarding Market
By 1989, snowboarding was gaining a lot of momentum as a winter sport. In its early days, most participants in this new sport came from the surf or skate communities, bolstering the same west coast street style that had been gaining traction in the casual clothing market.
As snowboarders took to the slopes, it quickly became apparent that traditional skiers were not interested in snowboarding. In fact, they were hostile towards it! As such, there were no skiers in the snowboard industry at all.
The apparel brands that were making snowboard gear could nail the style element, but remained clueless about making clothing that kept snowboarders warm and dry on the mountain and in snow.
I seized the opportunity to combine my intimate knowledge of skate and snowboard culture with my technical knowledge of performance ski wear — and Bored of Authority ® technical snowboard apparel was born.
Professional snowboarder Ross Rebagliati wears BOA snowboarding gear while competing on Mount Hood in the summer of 1993.
Our snowboard gear had the edge and street style of the BOA brand with the technical proficiency of a high-end ski wear brand. By our first international trade show in Las Vegas in 1993, skiers were finally starting to gravitate towards snowboarding, and thus, the BOA brand.
Bored of Authority® was more than just a gimmicky name — which it also definitely was — it was kind of the way I had lived my life. Sometimes that was for the better, but other times it was for the worse. But as I began to see commercial success, I embarked on a journey to develop these ideas further. I wanted to articulate the positive messages of Bored of Authority® — making choices for yourself, living in the moment, and challenging the standard way of thinking.
For a young entrepreneur, there is nothing quite like the feeling of validation when people “get it”. The market “got” BOA right away, and the first truly technical brand of snowboard wear landed in prestigious shops in Canada, the US, and Japan.
My distributor in Japan in 1993.
By 1997, the snowboard market had reached full penetration and imploded. In my personal life, my wife had my first child and I went to pursue a career in another field.
Total Mountain: A New Vision for BOA
Over the course of the next 15 years, snowboarding actually began to influence the design of skis, encouraging a wider, more snowboard-like shape. This made skiing more approachable and pulled skaters and snowboarders into the sport.
It also brought Bored of Authority® back to the sport of skiing. Today, we see no divide in mountain sports and are embracing the way snowboard and ski have melded into one — inspiring a new category of apparel called Total Mountain.
Total Mountain represents a lifestyle epitomized in Whistler BC, but also in great (and not so great) mountain towns around the globe — and in the heart and mind of any person whose soul yearns to breathe the fresh, clean mountain air.
In this new digital era, however, this lifestyle can transcend regional and cultural boundaries. The new BOA isn’t limited to participants of any set of board sports. Today, the BOA message is not only universal, it's crucial.
Think critically. Question assumptions. Question authority.
Bored of Authority® speaks to your individual passions, whatever they are — not what authority says your passions should be.
Over 20 years after my shop closed its doors, BOA is back. We’re committed to encouraging individuality and critical thinking through streetwear that demands attention and innovative Total Mountain technical apparel that challenges the status quo.
My team and I have been working on re-launching BOA as an ecommerce site since 2017, and we are so excited to introduce a new Bored of Authority® to the next generation of skaters, skiers, snowboarders, free-thinkers, creators, and trend-setters.
So, do you get it? Are you bored yet?