August 30, 2012

Quiksilver Buying Billabong?

… Probably not but Boardistan picked up the rumor from the Business Spectator who suggested that Rhone, a 20% owner of Quiksilver, might be circling if the price for the embattled company was right. I would think that doing so would be doubling down on a bad bet – it’s not that either brand is dead, but that they have lost their connection and head space with their audience.

At the moment, I’m not hearing people racing to surf stores to buy clothing. The offering of the major labels is often either perceived as a copy of what’s fashionable or not fashionable at all. And where they are copying trends, the product lacks the authenticity the average person (with access to the internet) is after. If I want a pair of jeans like 501’s, I’ll buy 501’s. If I want Wayfarers, I’ll buy Ray Bans. I don’t want another brands copy of them.

As I mentioned back here, the big surf brands need to return to creating products based on their philosophy, not what they think the kids want. Be thought leaders and independent, try new ideas and don’t be scared to have one or two failures. I was in the design shop for one of the big brands a few years ago where I had a designer take me to a wall of tee-shirts from the other big brands. They were sketching their own versions of these competitors tees – I’m not even joking. The designer told me that there’s nothing new and everyone was doing the same thing and that somehow made it okay. That amazed me and I think the situation they’re in now is a direct result of that thought. These companies were built on servicing a niche community well which gained mainstream traction – they switched their focus to trying to please the mainstream instead which has cost them in both audiences. At least that’s my thinking anyway.

What do you think? Are the big surf brands doomed or can they recapture what they used to be? Are any doing good things and not getting credit?

by POP Magazine