Revelstoke-based Mon Balon is bringing inclusivity to the sizes of ski and snowboard clothing and technical gear
Six years ago, Mon Balon launched Plus Snow, an e-retailer that offers high-quality, technical adventure clothing for sizes 1X to 6X in women’s and XL to 10XL in men’s. “Growing up, my mom had a second-hand ski shop in Melbourne, Australia,” she said. “Later, my husband and I ran that together. When my mom passed away, we decided to do something new, and I started an online ski shop.”
Mon discovered a huge demand for plus size ski and snowboard gear from her customers. She took the idea to suppliers at trade shows, and it expanded into a website dedicated to brands that offer technical gear in plus sizes.
Though it began in Australia, Plus Snow is now available across North America, filling a gap in the market. “In Canada, you can get some basic plus size gear online, but it’s not high-end, technical gear,” Mon said. “For example, I can’t find anything in GORE-TEX, which I would love. If brands like Patagonia and Arc’teryx that are already making high-quality gear started making plus size ranges—and not just an extra size, but specifically looking at plus size people—there’s a huge opportunity for them to support the 70 per cent of American women that identify as plus size.”
She continued: “I honestly think that whatever brand does a proper comprehensive range of plus size gear—whoever does it well and embraces them rather than a token effort—they will be so appreciated and their loyalty from the North American customers will shine through."
I asked Mon why she thinks brands aren’t creating more plus size technical gear. She explained the economic constraints, saying, "There’s a lot of work involved and hurtles for wholesalers to go into that realm. They think they’re testing the market by doing one size up in one item.
“I think there’s a massive fat stigma that is so engrained in culture. Brands often show images of men and women at the top of their league. These images are aspirational, not inspirational. They’re not the everyday person. Now there are plus size athletes starting to inspire the everyday person who is plus size.”
Plus Snow products
Mon is passionate about making change and including everybody outside. “Plus size men and women are included in the outdoors. They can scale mountains just as well as skinny people. They have a desire to get outdoors just as much as a size 8 or 10.”
Plus Snow is completely online, so selecting the correct size is extremely important. There’s a dedicated “Shop Your Shape” portal that allows a real person (not a bot) help you determine the best style and size for your body. “There’s more shapes in the plus sizes that need to be catered to,” Mon said.
“There isn’t one reason why people are plus size,” she continued. “Often it’s women who have had kids and don’t fit into their ski gear anymore. They’re not that lazy, fat, sit on your couch, fill your mouth full of food and watch TV all day kind of people. They’re everyday people that are being active and outdoorsy. I think it spans the whole North American continent.”