Tuesday, June 17, 2008


As reported on Style Sight website: June 16th, 2008
The association of surfers with unmotivated, youthful, pot-smoking slackers is long gone. In its stead is the growing and predominant image of robust and vibrantly healthy men and women, young and old, with a zest for life. It is a mix of surfing’s professionals and these newest ambassadors that are transforming the surfer world into a thriving market opportunity now aggressively being tapped by retail’s biggest players, including Nike, J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch and even Nissan Motor Co., reported Bloomberg. “Everybody wants to be part of this,” general manager Ronald Enriquez of Jack’s Surf Shop in Huntington Beach, California, told Bloomberg. “Everybody’s looking for the fountain of youth.”

U.S. surfing and skating stores raked in $7.5bn in sales in 2006, up 15% from 2004, according to the latest statistics from the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association.
Quiksilver is a leader in this market. According to its CEO Robert McKnight, the key to success is “you have to bleed it in your DNA; you cannot fake it. These kids know which companies are cool,” he told Bloomberg. Founded in 1976 as a maker of surfing shorts, Quiksilver now generates sales worth $2.4bn.
“We have this theory around Quiksilver that half of the world’s population lives at or near the beach and the other half cannot wait to get there,” McKnight added. “Everyone has a good experience with the beach.”
The leaders of the sports themselves are also finding success in retail. Surfing icon Laird Hamilton recently inked a deal with Steve & Barry’s retail chain to distribute a clothing line inspired by his life on the waves called Wonderwall. “It represents a fantasy but also a goal — someplace to get to,” Hamilton told Bloomberg of the allure with surfing.
Everyone else is now working hard to get a piece of the action. Nissan Motor Co. promotes “surf safaris,” and chemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp. runs ads featuring surfers chasing the perfect wave.
Nike Inc. executives are said to have visited Enriquez’s store to learn what customers liked. According to Bloomberg, sales at Nike’s Hurley International unit, which caters to the surfing and skateboarding market, rose 33% in the third quarter. Hurley “is connecting with our core consumer and with the broader action sports market,” Nike Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker told analysts on a March 19 conference call.
J. Crew features surfers Buzzy Kerbox and Campbell Farrell on the cover of its summer catalog, while Abercrombie & Fitch sells Southern California lifestyle clothes through its Hollister unit, which targets teenagers interested in this market.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently launched a line of young girls’ sweaters aimed at the surfing crowd, a move that attracted the attention of Quiksilver, which promptly sued Wal-Mart for copying the firm’s Roxy trademark.

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