Saturday, April 18, 2009

illicit Snowboarding’s Guide to Face Fashion


We all know that the most important thing about snowboarding is looking good, but there is a point when it becomes pretty difficult... when it gets bloody freezing.
At this point you have to balance the embarrassment of coming back with a snotty nose and mumbling through frozen lips, against covering up with some sort of natty looking face protection.
Not a good face look
The difficultly of providing a solution for this facial problem has driven designers to great heights over the years. Let’s take a look at some of the solutions as we delve into Illicit Snowboarding’s Guide to Face Fashion...

A Quick History of the Balaclava/Ski Mask
In the early 1850's the knitted mask was invented. The new, stylish and versatile face-warming garment spread like wildfire and it quickly became a fashion must have across Europe. Unfortunately no one could agree on a name for the face adornment and this ultimately resulted in the first and only fashion war in recorded history. On the 25th October 1854 a great battle was fought at the Crimean port of Balaclava between the Russians and the British-French-Turkish fashion alliance. After a long and gruesome battle, which inadvertently also brilliantly introduced the world to the nurse's uniform, everyone agreed that it should forever be known as the Balaclava to celebrate the great sacrifice to fashion.
Or something like that. Here is the Wikipedia "version"
Original photograph of the Battle of Balaclava.
Balaclavas once again appeared in the heat/cold of battle during World War II although by this time they seemed to be sporting the faces of dead Pandas

In the 50's it just became very homoerotic.
This lad has got wood
And then in the 1960's this happened:
Now just imagine. It’s Christmas. You’re surrounded by generations of your loving family. The joy of the occasion permeates everything. Everyone is in a frenzy of giving and receiving. Then you pick up your present from your Nan and you open it to find one of these…

These masks are from some 60's knitting magazine. Some of the comments on the blog which exposed these monstrosities capture the horror we all feel at the sight of these.
Susan, "Something died inside of me when I saw that."
Magpie Nest (probably not real name), "That poor little girl looks like a burn victim."
The Unfinished Thought Police (or TUT Police for short) said "I'd rather be faceless from frostbite."

Today knitting is apparently still practiced and today’s knitters are continuing to try and perfect the art of face warming. Let's take a look at how they could possibly have improved the technique.
Essentially it looks like they haven't learnt. Order one of these beauts from Leethal

I think this one was knitted from his chest hair...

 For some reason I suspect this one was made in prison

Heres a couple of ideas for your next fancy dress party...
Dr Zoidberg. You know the character from Futurama. Yeah the unfunny follow-up to the Simpsons...

Cthulhu. The fictional horror character... 

This one is a bit limited because
a) you need to be able to knit, and
b) you need to have friends that get this reference, and
c) if you find yourself in situation where a) or b) is the case it ain't going to be much of a party anyway.

If you are a bit too lazy to knit your own, but you'd like to dress like a suicidal movie star, then you can buy this freaky thing from Amazon 

This one is a bit more adaptable. The Jackyll and Hide Knit your own beanie. Here's the pattern if you have some time to kill, or relatives to kill. 

That’s enough knit-picking. Let’s have a look at other ways that snowboarders can style up their faces. 
This next bunch are some options that seem to have a few small technical limitations which is probably why not everybody is wearing them this season.

Why no lower jaw? People can tell that it is not actually Skeletor and you'd still have a cold face

Mess with your kids minds by making them dress as a droopy-faced shaven monkey... 

Again limited practicality and most of the face is still exposed

A neoprene tiger mask... 
Sweaty and so ugly-bad they must only sell this as part of a government conspiracy to tag complete idiots.

This Spiderman mask seems to be designed for human/giraffe crossbreeds...
This one will keep people on their toes. Useful if you plan to snowboard into a lake

A Panda mask for civilian use. Seemingly only wearable by people with huge heads.
Mexican wrestling mask. Who knew how practical these could be? Nice that he has managed to get one to compliment his jacket. That's fashion!
This is a bit bulky but if you do need to suddenly graffiti an entire town then this is ideal.  

There are a couple of specialist snowboarding face fashion companies who have produced wears that are a little more practical for this sport.
This one is probably a little too practical. Talus Outdoor Technologies take on the face mask...

  Like a pig in a Darth Vadar mask
Neff are a hat company that also produce the recent snowboarding must have  - the bandana. This is a good example of the art

This is a company that was set-up by a couple of pro snowboarders. Here is their introduction from their MySpace page:
We are a new company about to blow the f**k up. From the sizzled minds of Chris Brown and Kale Stephens comes "Airhole ninja masks". We specialize in face rags for all your lifes activities. Snowboarding, Snowmobiling, Robbing banks...we don't give a f**k, as long as you look dope doing it. Our masks are super functional as well as styley to the max bro. So look out for our gang of ninja mask wearing shredders assasinating a slope near you! WORD........ SHITS OUT ON THE STREETS!!!
That’s a hell of an intro and it’s in classic vapid pro-snowboarderese slang. It's weird that they are trying to be so hard core but they are a bit too prudish to write the word fuck. I think the only bit that rings true is the sizzled minds bit.
I’m normally a big proponent of guys trying to establish a small snowboard company. Unfortunately the more I read about these guys the more disappointed I was. Essentially these lads are twats.
Their big invention is that they have a hole in the mask that allows you to breathe without the mask getting all wet from your breath. They have gone with the tag line
You breath through the hole...idiot.
To be honest lads I think a monkey could get the concept. It’s not quite the genius leap in clothing design you think you have got here. And let’s not be calling people idiots when you can’t spell the word breathe.
Here are the two guys in their first TV ad:
In summary, I think their own weak pun says it all - arseholes.

Thankfully this next company is the exact opposite. These guys have no pretensions of being mountain gangsters:

Beard Head will protect your head from the cold and keep your upper lip and chin toasty warm, much like a real beard would!
*Now with special interchangeable moustaches!*
Everyone looks so happy in the photos. I just feel I need to join in. 

And finally one of the main issues with all this face fashion is nicely stated by this guy:
"It's pretty easy to wear warm clothes on just about every part of your body except for your face. As far as I can tell, the main reason that cold-weather facial attire is somewhat socially taboo is because it generally obscures the identity of the person wearing it. Despite all of the progress our society has made towards accepting and treating all people fairly, we are still yet to escape the notion that a person in a balaclava (or ski mask) is generally up to no good. The "Identity Preserving Balaclava" is my solution to the social stigma associated with the identity concealing effect of the average balaclava. Here is the method and pattern that I used to make my own "Identity Preserving Balaclava." Hopefully other people will be able to use this to liberate their cold faces from social repression"
How scary is this?

And that's all she wrote. If you need more fashion fix why not try some of our other exclusives:


  1. Great website. Managed to spend a few hours on here today.

    Was pleasantly surprised to see meself on this page (wearing the mexican wrestling mask).

    Keep up the good work

  2. this blog had me laughing like an idiot.

    love the blog - keep it coming

  3. Unfunny follow-up to the Simpsons in YOUR worthless opinion. The show lasted seven seasons and has millions of fans. How do you explain that if the show isn't funny, huh? Just remember that every single movie and TV show you love has multitudes of haters who would call you an idiot for being a fan.


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