Deep at the core of Michigan’s shred scene dwells a pack of young animals. So ferocious in nature, the mere mention of this group’s name strikes fear into the hearts of other snowboarders and bystanders alike. FLANEL……
Ha…. kinda like that but maybe not so dramatic. The Flanel team is a group of Michigan’s top shred talent, plus a few other Midwesterners. It’s a very tight knit group of kids who truly live snowboarding. Flanel is a group within a group. They’re often perceived as a gang to the casual snowboarder, identifiable to the innocent eye only by their matching nylon team jackets; usually seen with what they refer to as the “mars” logo printed on the back. They have also been spotted wearing an updated jacket with a skull logo. This seems to be the latest addition to the Flanel team’s wardrobe.
Just to clarify what I mean by top shred talent; at least three of the members have had their last season’s edit on national display by the likes of Yobeat and Snowboarder mag. The entire team is what we would describe as being top shelf. In groups that have so much focused talent such as Flanel, it’s typical to find egos that couldn’t fit through a fucking barn door, this group of youngsters for the most part manage to maintain a decent level of humbleness and we like that. In general, this is a group of real cool cats. The entire team roster is as follows: Alek Binder, Jack Harris, Tyler May, Andrew Carroll, Alec Ash, Brent Behm, Chad Wolfe, Justine Pinkerton, Paul Dobry, Adam Roberts and Charlie Hoffman.
Flanel, what is it? Well this group is a team and as with most snowboarding teams that usually makes reference to a brand. It is as simple as that. Flanel is a modern brand of clothing that started in 2012; show casing edgy designs with a more tailored fit. Flanel is 100% geared to the skate and snow crowd. This brand is fortunate enough to have compiled the best crew in the state and the brands energy is growing out of control like some fucked up nuclear reactor. This season is sure to mark their most successful yet. Flanel is releasing their new look book shortly and I can promise you it’s all amazing stuff. From design to quality this brand is at a very good point considering it has really just begun. Despite its growing popularity, Flanel maintains its core persona very well. A website is in the works, but if you want this gear your best bet is to contact them. Notably the rawest shop in the state People Skate and Snow have been known to carry their goods. You can also buy it from the trunks of their vehicles. LOL
The staff at Michigan Boarder is all in when it comes to what this crew is doing. There are numerous reasons why MB digs Flanel, but the number one reason is they’re adding so much to the scene. When a group of kids get together and does something like this it’s a worthy cause in our eyes. Flanel is giving back to Michigan snowboarding. Whether it was their intention or not, they are bringing excitement and brotherhood to what was once a dead scene. They are developing a (very nice mind you) Michigan-based brand and are putting the effort into promoting it. Flanel is adding something. Michigan Boarder is adding something, Hawk, Nub’s, Cburg… all adding something. We implore you to do the same. Snowboarding started here. It’s a fact. Michigan snowboarding has a momentum right now that is going to be hard to stop. Flanel is at the front of the pack.
I sat down with Flanel’s founders Jimmy Egas, Mike Harrington, and Charlie Hoffman to give them the chance to tell their story to the rest of us.
Alright guys, so go ahead…. When, where and why?
Jimmy : Sitting at a desk, filled with boredom. Not really, it started in May of 2012. I had always wanted to work with companies in the Skateboard/Snowboard industry like Rome or Rogers. I started it as a way for myself to build and showcase my personal portfolio. Then Mike came in. I’m pretty sure how Mike was introduced was through an email because he had a shitty phone. I sent him a photo of one of the first designs and asked him if he would wear it at the mountain for me. We started making small amounts of shirts with no real direction. It wasn’t until we made a sampler video, that we found a direction and set up Charlie as our first rider. The rest just all started falling into place. If it weren’t for the huge support within the local area none of it would have been possible.
Charlie : In Jimmy’s brain, which then infected Mike’s brain; those two then decided to bring me on to ride for them because they where from towns near me and mike rode with me all the time…the first day we met up to shoot Jimmy remembered I was a photo major and asked me if I wanted to come on board shooting photos….then I started helping do anything I could and filling in anywhere possible: snow, skate, photo, video, design, web, team, a little of everything.
Mike : I got sent a Facebook message by Jimmy one day about wearing the clothes in some photos or taking photos of the clothes I can’t really remember. Then I said I’d shoot video of it because I’m not that hyped on shooting photos. Asked Charlie to skate in some of the clothes to add skateboarding to the lifestyle part of it. Then Charlie and I thought we could market it better as a snowboard/skate brand and talked to Jimmy about it and he was down. The rest is history.
Who does the designing of the clothes then?
Jimmy : Besides the signature series with Charlie and Justine (Which are insanely rad) I do the majority of the design work; however that doesn’t mean it’s all me. I always ask for input, or feedback on all the pieces. Charlie and I share the same view on a lot of things so it’s usually, “So this is what I’m trying to show” “Yeah, yeah go with that.” Pretty simple process.
What is the drive behind the brand?
Charlie : I’ve always thought the key factor to what creates the scene and backing of Flanel is a group of kids that just want to ride and have a good time. Simple graphics that people want to wear and none of that bullshit all over print. Not that those company’s don’t have gnarly teams, great media and what not but those dudes look at riders as people who can bring in revenue for their companies, don’t get me wrong I would love to be making an income with Flanel and not have to work other jobs but first off I want to create a vibe and team that is gnarly, dedicated and just all around good people. Being able to help these riders grow is just as important to me as growing the company. To put it as simply as possible I want kids who eat, ride, shit, sleep, and ride. Saying that we as a whole want the company to have a good vibe, we wont put anyone on the team simply based on how good they are. We ride with all these guys, gals, and tiny children. Saying that, if you are an asshole don’t expect to get shit, at least from me, or respect. It also helps some of our dudes have Satan backing them….for real.
Talk about the team, I mean did you know all of them or how did that work?
Mike : Where to start. We should say this first that the team basically formed as we met them. It was quite an amazing thing because the team formed really organically, we didn’t have to search anybody out either we met them and everything clicked or they came to us and we were more than pumped to have them join. First we started with what we had. Charlie. He was the perfect beginning. Then we looked towards people we knew and we wanted somebody young that murdered it like somebody our age. Brent Behm was an obvious choice. He was 15, had the legs of a robot and the style of a man. After we had added baby boy Brent Behm, we wanted somebody around our age. This is where Jack came in because we had seen him ride and were fucking amazed. Probably the only time we have been nervous asking somebody to ride for us, he was so pumped. Next day he came up to ride at Nubs and was a perfect fit. He then called Tyler May to come hit street with us. Watched Tyler do a front three out and a frontlip same way out of a huge drop rail. No question, he was on the team. Then they boosted up to Houghton with us and we had our first Flanel street trip with a formed team. Andrew was a shot out of nowhere. We just received a message one day on facebook, talking about how he was really into everything that was going on with us. Three days later we rode with him at Cannonsburg and it was a perfect fit as you can see because he is more or less the poster boy of the brand. He kind of embodies everything that we want to be. He rides for fun, he rides for himself and he never ceases to murder everything he rides. One of my favorite styles ever. Then we have our two Hill Billies, Jasper and Binder. I met Jasper when the Hill Billy Shred Show came to Nubs. I had never met anybody that snowboarded in Kansas City and he seemed like a really down kid for sure. Definite skate style, kills in both on a snowboard and on a skateboard. Binder came about when a couple of the Hill Billies stayed at my Apartment in Marquette to hit some street. He fucking killed this one rail we were at, but I thought he might be too cool for us haha. Made the edit for them and he was super hyped. Asked if he could get some stuff and we hooked him up. Then we have our last winter add with Justine Pinkerton. Rome had a shoot at Nubs for Great Lakes Insurgents and I was asked to help film it. At first I thought she was a 15 year old boy kitted out like the rest of the Rome kids. Filmed some lines with her. Straight up murks kinked rails. We always discussed having a girl on the team, but really didn’t know any good girl snowboarders. She hit up our instagram about buying a jacket, took advantage of the situation haha. Month later and she has been one of the people on the team that has done the most for us media wise. She rides for Trollhaugen by the Wisconsin/Minnesota border, they do some really innovative stuff there. I guess technically she wasn’t our last addition, little Paul Dobry was. Charlie and I have always rode with this kid, since he was about 12 years old. He really grew into his own this year and we took him to Pine Knob one trip and he just slayed everything he touched. Asked him to do a 900, did it in three tries after never having done one. Love that kid like a little brother. What I love about the team though is that my relationship to them isn’t just as like the guy that gives them stuff. For some of these guys I’m their only filmer and like way of getting to events. It’s a great way to connect with these kids and really develop a team into a family. I’ve never met more loyal and productive snowboarders in my life.
What’s up for Flanel this season?
Charlie : I’m going to assume you mean snow season but I’m going to disregard that and talk about skate season anyways. We have two kids on the team and I’m looking to grow a squadron of people who don’t care about much else than skating. We are working on a bunch of different apparel for skate season and adding things like tank tops and possibly some women’s clothing to the line up. The graphics are pretty basic but raw as fuck I am thinking that people are really going to be into them and wanna buy the product, I mean I would buy it all and we won’t print anything that we ourselves wouldn’t wear, cause that’s just dumb. I should be in San Diego and able to film/shoot photos of skate stuff year round and grow the skate portion of our company even more, so we will be pumping out both skate and snow media all winter long next year….news feeds are about to get clogged like your grandpappy’s toilet.
Mike : Next snow season is really important for us. It’s our sophomore season, last year we were learning everything and really working out the kinks. We were adding people as we went along and coming up with ideas on the fly. Now that we are going into a new season with a full team, our apparel all planned out and trip ideas in motion I believe that you’ll see even more media out of us. Apparel wise we’ll be pumping out different types of clothing, such as different jackets and different types of hoodies, while still sticking with our signature look and attitude. In media development though after seeing how much footage we could output for “Fuck Yeah!” in less than a month of filming, we are planning on filming for a full video for next season. We are already starting to plan trips all over the MidWest to film. Still expect to see tons of updates like we did this year of the team murdering resorts and random stuff that is going down with us. We also have a couple event ideas that we would love to see set into motion with us backing them. You’ll have to wait and see where we are heading, but I know you guys will love it.
Design wise where do you draw inspiration from?
Jimmy : We pretty much just steal ideas from all of the big wigs. Joking. The original inspiration came from my obsession with space. That’s where the idea of the logo comes from at least. Our idea is really we make what we would and do wear. You wont see FLANEL releasing an allover print sweatshirt with ice cream colors. Why? Because that’s not something any of us would wear. I design things that are simple but just as appealing without the cluster fuck. If any of that makes sense.
Charlie : Pretty much all the designs come from Jimmy, not that he doesn’t ask for input on designs and base ideas from time to time. Any of the designs I create are normally simple designs created from objects in everyday life that interest me like knives, dead animals, and other things along that vein of design; simple shit that way people can interpret it however they want, even if they hate it.
Mike : We try to keep our designs simple. Personally I’m not a big fan of really complicated designs or anything incredibly flashy. We try to make clothes we would wear ourselves. Muted colors, blacks, whites and greys are generally what we work with in terms of colors. Try to work with very simple designs too such as our Penta Hoodie design that reflects our attitude yet still reflects a simplicity that all three of us enjoy.
Being all over the Mitten what do you guys consider the best resorts?
Charlie : Well our home mountain in Nubs Nob in Harbor Springs, I’ve worked there for 4 years, I took a minimal hiatus from Nub’s 2 years ago to live in Grand Rapids….and lets just say I get bored of going in straight lines without tranny finders riding corporate stamped features. Not that it isn’t fun…I just need a bigger hill, mountain, resort or whatever else you need to call it to feel good at night. That aside I’ve rode at Nubs since I was 3…..so 19 years of Nubs, fuck. Other resorts in Michigan that I actually enjoy riding are Pine Knob, Boyne Mountain STRICTLY during test fest and the last weekend in April…it seemed less Boyne and more fun, Pando is also a good time cause it’s super small and DIY style, I’ve also heard good things about Hawk Island it looks sick, also the private session we had at Otsego Club was rad…but other than that I don’t go there. I just base where I like riding off whether there are random side tranny hits or non man-made features to find and if I can go fast. If it’s a slow resort in general…I’ll probably bail; going slow is for snow bunnys and tapout bros.
Mike : Agreed.
The media design and promotion is very sharp. Who handles all that?
Mike : Well, the media is split between all of us based on our respective degrees. Sounds funny because we are kind of like a tiny core snowboard upstart but we all have degrees in media arts. Charlie takes the photos, Jimmy does all the graphics and poster and I handle most of the video. Sometimes we mismatch like Charlie will film a look book video and I run the instagram. We really invest time in this because nowadays online promotion is key; I really think without our media we wouldn’t be half as successful as we are. We’ve met some of our team that way, we’ve made most our connections because of it.
Seems like you have some relationships with key players in Michigan snowboarding i.e. Rich Whinnie from ROME, Pete from Interior Plain, Cody Pruhdol with the Hill Billies. These guys give you any wisdom at all?
Charlie : Yeah, Rich has known me since I was about 12 or 13 I think?? He was friends with my older brother. Back before rich was the Rome rep and was the tech rep for Pete they both looked out for me snow wise and I would help them out in any way possible. It’s good to know dudes like Rich and Pete they know their shit and are good people all around, both dudes killing it harder than anyone in the game. It probably helps that I ride for Rich as well…..no it does, thanks Rich! Those dudes definitely help spread the word by posting our video’s photos and simply hanging out with us and our crew all the time. I mean you have seen the almost motorcycle gang like crew of Flanel Coach jacket wearing mother fuckers…shits awesome when there is like 6 kids wearing the same jacket and then an additional 5 in the sweatshirts…kids get scared. I love it.
Another important word of mouth friend who helps us out is Ben from People Skate and Snow, currently the only shop in Michigan carrying our stuff. Ben knows a lot about the industry and I always feel like I’m smarter after I visit him in the shop or just talk to him in general. Not to mention he’s probably the nicest guy you will ever meet. GO SUPPORT THEM!!! They are in Keego Harbor Michigan, thanks!
Mike: I met Cody when the Hill Billies came up and it was love at first site. Actually it was with all the Hill Billies. They really endorse what we are doing and they are just fun people. Cole Linzmeyer is a fervent supporter too, always making me smile and promoting us through the Hill Billy Shred Show FaceBook. Could not ask for a more rad group of people. Some other really supportive people you should checkout are the Planet Snow group around Hawk Island. Those guys definitely know what they are doing and are really looking out for local snowboard hills, try to create places for people to ride that haven’t had places to ride. Matthew VanSteenis and Jeff Dudewolf, you guys are boss.
Rider wise who is killing it right now that’s not on your team lol?
Charlie : Mike Fink is from Michigan and KILLS it all the time, dude rode for monument for a while…probably hit that dude up…I got his digits. Other than that I can’t think of any snowboarders that are worth covering that I don’t dislike.
Mike : As far as Michigan riders, you should definitely check out the Blunts, Brews and Bad News crew. They are holding it down in the Detroit area, filming for a two year video that is going to be worth the wait. Shout out to Scott Smith for making that video happen. So stoked to have Chad Wolfe from that crew join our team this upcoming season. Apart from them, I would check out those Kalamazoo kooks Mac Eckstrand and Nate Anderson, they film some goofy stuff and kill it at the same time.
Any thanks or info you want to put out there?
Jimmy : That we are very grateful to everyone that has helped us out, and supported us. Whether they know they did or not.
All of Our Riders
The Hill Billy Traveling Shred Show
John Curtis and Everyone at Nubs Nob
Rich Whinnie and Rome SDS
People Skate and Snow
And so many more!
Mike : I don’t know, I would just like to say that this whole thing is definitely not about selling the apparel for us. If that were the case I wouldn’t be driving these kids around in my little Kia all winter. This was always about kinda making a group of snowboarders with a vibe that I would like to be around. I really liked created a snowboard community around this, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are right now. That’s been more important to me than anything. If you take away the fact that kids want to buy our stuff from all over the Midwest, we have our stuff in a shop and that we are being asked to sponsor events and just leave it with the fact that now these kids riding for us have a little bit more to look forward too, I would keep doing this.
Oh shit! So where can you get this shit?
Charlie : Where you can buy product? The back of my car, People Skate and Snow, or hit us up on the Internet. Follow us on instagram bitchessss.
Fair enough. The end!