Although this might look like it’s going to be the worlds most boring article (and it might still get there) I’m thinking that this is actually pretty interesting. Tucked away in the generic release announcing half a dozen new licensing partnerships, was the announcement that Quiksilver had signed “SARL Euroglass and its affiliate Equity Bell to design, [to] manufacture and distribute globally Quiksilver and Roxy brand surfboards …”
Now, I know Quiksilver was never founded on shaping boards and that an agreement like this is probably not new at all. For all I know, it was just re-signing an existing one. But reading the detail got me thinking about the idea that Quiksilver is really not a company that makes things, but just brands things – I can’t claim this as an original thought, it’s Naomi Klein’s from chapter one of No Logo. The idea being that they no longer own the sewing machines to make the boardshorts, they just contract that to someone, somewhere else. And once the brand is on it, they create marketing to sell it… You end up with a company that generates nothing but advertising.
Nike, Hilfiger and other massive companies have been doing this for decades. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and I’d never advocate owning all the infrastructure to create every product they sell, but perhaps Quiksilver should put some time into questioning which products they really should actually own the tools and skills to create. Something like boardshorts, which were the foundation of the business, is something they should completely own.
It would add to their authenticity, bring them close to their roots and give them a personal investment in that product which you can’t get from something created far away from your design shop. Nothing beats being able to see the product rolling off the line, being able to make changes on the fly and really understanding the process of creating a part of the lifestyle you’re selling at the other end.
Then again, maybe no one cares and it really is just about who can get their brand into the consumers head the most. I like to think it isn’t though.