Former pro snowboarder Steven “Jib” Hunt melds his athletic and artistic skills to create a streetwear line with an unlikely partner.
Steven “Jib” Hunt sold his first T-shirt in the 10th grade, when his vocational class was assigned to create and print designs for a nearby snowboarding shop. Hunt was an avid illustrator—often sketching during classes—and when the shop bought one of his T-shirts, “that’s when a light went off in my head,” he remembers.
Hunt decided to study graphic design at nearby Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, whose close proximity to several major ski resorts also allowed Hunt to pursue his other passion: snowboarding. All through college Hunt competed on the professional snowboarding circuit, sponsored by Vans and 686.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that today Hunt has married his two erstwhile interests and created an action sports–inspired line of sportswear under the eponymous Jib Hunt label. The brand is now sold in about 50 accounts and 120 doors, including Karmaloop.com, Blades, Urban Outfitters and Dr. Denim. “This line is very true to myself, with a lot of functional features and some technical pieces like snowboarding jackets with powder skirts, and boardshorts made from the same performance fabrics that Billabong uses,” notes Hunt. (Powder skirts attach the interior of a jacket to snowboard pants, in order to keep snow out.)
The sporty nature of the line is apparent from its moniker: “Jib” is a snowboarding term meaning to ride on non-snow obstacles like logs, picnic tables or rocks. Hunt has had the nickname since college because one of his old sponsors, 686, was then known as Jib 686.
However, while there are technical pieces in the collection suitable for hitting the slopes, Jib Hunt is primarily a streetwear line. The fall ’08 offering includes pieces like military-influenced peacoats, toggle coats, polyester hoodies with bonded fleece lining, hooded down bomber jackets, striped crewneck sweaters, wovens, clean-rinse denim jeans, cargo pants and printed T-shirts.
Hunt, 32, creates all of the line’s prints by hand on a computer, and many of his motifs feature stylized military scenes, including tanks, helicopter gunships, fighter jets, ninjas and Navy SEALs. “It’s guns and grenades—but in an artsy way,” explains Hunt of the illustrations that adorn his T’s, hoodies and the linings of his jackets. “I’m very peaceful, but they’re cool images that appeal to guys.”
Jib Hunt’s T’s retail for $30 to $48, denim for $94, sweaters for $75, hoodies for $120, zippered jackets with bonded fleece lining for $130 to $140, outerwear for $180 to $400 and triple-layer snowboard pants for the mid-$200s.
The production and sales of the line are handled by Schott NYC, the company best known for its iconic, tough-guy leather jackets, which signed a license agreement to produce Jib Hunt apparel in 2005. The line debuted that year with just T-shirts and has evolved each season with additional categories.
“We were presented with the opportunity and we couldn’t say no,” says Jason Schott, chief marketing officer and vice-president of finance at Schott NYC. “Jib really lives the lifestyle he’s selling—he’s the real deal. And he’s such a nice, humble guy. He doesn’t have to sell himself because the product speaks for itself.”
Prior to launching his own line, Hunt earned his design stripes at Burton, where he worked for five years after college as a soft-goods art director. “I gave up the professional snowboarding because I realized I needed to really dedicate myself to one profession,” says Hunt. After leaving Burton for a brief stint as a brand manager at Virgin Mobile, Hunt also racked up experience as a freelance illustrator and designer for brands like Vans, Helly Hansen, Rusty and Nixon.
“After doing all that work for other companies I decided to start making some T-shirts under my own name,” says Hunt, who enlisted InGroup Licensing to help find a company to expand on his ideas, a role Schott NYC jumped at.
“We are a fourth-generation, family-owned company, so we always keep an eye out on ways to reinvent ourselves and grow,” notes Schott. “We can help him with our distribution, sourcing and back-office capabilities. And we can learn from him because he’s got such a clear vision for the business.”
Which goes to show, paying attention in high school can really pay off sometimes.