Parlor Skis thinks it’s time for us all to take the ski industry personally.
Parlor, an East Boston ski company primarily serving the New England mountain community, works to create custom skis designed for the individual based on your own unique needs and styles from first draft to final cut. The only East Coast ski company that designs and produces all of their skis in-house, entirely within the U.S., Parlor is proud of its homegrown designs and personal relationships with its skiers. Thanks to the company’s dedication to building these relationships and employing innovative technology that monitors distinct skier styles and patterns on the snow, Parlor can create skis that meet customers exactly where they are and help skiers reach their personal best with the help of a personal design.
Mark Wallace, founder of Parlor Skis, offered us some insight on what makes his company so remarkable as part of the wider snowsports market, and why custom skis matter when it comes to pushing the sport to your own limits.
What sparked the idea for launching Parlor Skis?
Parlor was founded on the idea that just making the highest quality, most tailored skis on the market wasn’t enough. We felt New England needed a laminate construction ski that could hold up to the sometimes less than ideal conditions we have – one that was informed by a wider platform and some of the more progressive all-mountain shapes. In addition to the product need, we quickly learned that before Parlor, there wasn’t a brand that represented with it means to be a New England skier. Parlor has a passionate group of skiers – some travel the world, some move out west, and some ski every weekend at loon, but they identify as Eastern skiers.
What should our readers know about the materials used in Parlor’s skis? How are they different than mass-market skis?
The biggest difference in the materials we use is the quality. We build every pair to-order and never cut corners on materials. Informed clients know Parlor skis are on some of the most durable skis on the market. We use a vertically laminated hard and soft wood core, laminates from Vectorpy, and plastics from Crown. When you use the best materials, the focus shifts more to how they come together rather than what they are made of. That is the beauty of custom, we can change and refine the composition of every ski to match each client’s needs.
What is involved in the creative process of designing each ski?
Designing a ski is the best part of my job. It starts with a mental picture of skiing a run. I spent many years racing in the US and Europe, and a big part of daily race preparation was visualizing the course. So, each ski starts with an image of the trail and how I envision a customer skiing down the trail. For example, if a skier wants a powder ski that is not too damp, I picture a steep bowl run with trees on the top of it, then opening out onto some more low angle powder below. Then I figure out how they’re going to ski the run: is it a lot of short turns, or are they going to send it off the top and then make two turns on the run out? I meet with our design team, then create an outline, a profile, and needed materials. We model the performance, and a new ski is born.
Are custom skis for a specific level or type of skier?
Each pair of Parlors is build for a unique individual. We make skis for everyone from our pro team to people who are just stepping off the bunny hill. One of the issues in the market right now is that a lot of intermediate level skis are very poorly built, and having a high-quality product really helps build the confidence of a lot of our mid level skiers, which is exciting to see.
Where do you see the ski design and technology market heading? Where does Parlor fit in here?
There are two major shifts happening in ski technology right now. The first is around material science — there have never been as many exciting options available for what we can put into skis. Materials are lighter and damper than ever. Parlor is always working with suppliers to test new materials, and as soon as we see something that works we’re able to add it to our range of custom options and make it publicly available much more quickly than the large brands. We’re innovating fast. The other big area where Parlor is really pushing the envelope is integrating on-snow data into the customization of the ski. Right now we use the proprietary algorithm behind our fit tool, coupled with a skier interview and video footage to analyze and customize a ski. Increasingly, we’re starting to use both GPS and wearable technology in order to understand even more precisely how people are skiing and what adjustments we can make to give them better on-snow performance. Having the flexibility to build skis one at a time is a huge advantage here.