Without ever having been a member of the surf, skate or other action sports community, I’m allowing myself to explain my deepest regrets about something that I observed in the last two decades: how the surfwear segment has lost its relevance.
Growing up as a teenager in the ’80s I remember brands such as Quiksilver or Billabong being the epitome of cool. But over the years the once big names in surf lost their standing and recently made more headlines with their economic struggles over anything else. Much has been written about the decline of this whole segment ever since.
While action sports itself is still popular, still attracts whole generations and doesn’t go out of fashion, the brands did. They made the same mistakes that many fashion brands did–which even weighs harder because the surf labels used to be tied up to a subculture and youth culture: they lost their credibility among their core clients, the surf community, while chasing the big money.
Stretching distribution to the limit brought higher turnover, but as a natural result started to weaken the desire for the product. Mixing and mingling in all kinds of areas–from surf over skate to snow, addressing to rough boys and cute girls–sped up the process.
“From a business point of view, I think part of the problem is not only that consumer behaviors have changed and Internet shopping has taken a huge piece of the pie, but all the big businesses that have entered the action sports market with the objective of making money and not bringing passion to the sports,” action sports veteran and Ispo sales manager Rasmus Ostergaard recently said in an interview.
Meanwhile a new generation of (surfwear) brands such as Saturdays (read more on page 48 in this issue) has found its place in the industry, not only catering to the consumer with a fresh collection approach but so far also staying away from outside investors and the pressure to please everyone.
But apart from all ups and downs for surfwear brands and labels we took the opportunity–namely with this Beach Issue–to show that while it has indeed changed, that beach and surf culture is still very vivid, influential and sexy.
Enjoy summer. Get a tan. And hang loose.
Read the magazine online here.