Business of Fashion this week has put together a fine story on how the surfing industry heavyweights have managed to miss the market on several occasions, resulting in s sagging industry that can’t seem to get out of its own way. Profiling Rip Curl, Billabong, and Quiksilver, it goes back to the history of these brands, surfing culture in Australia, and how their expansion plans were too fast and ill-timed.
What’s interesting also is that Volcom is highlighted as the surf brand that battened-down the hatches and was not necessarily pigeon-holed as a surf brand (more of an association with other action sports) and continues to be profitable.
It’s a good read and we highly recommend it, especially because the piece comes from a non-surfing editorial angle.
However there’s another huge part of the puzzle that is missing and that’s the potential opportunity for the surfing industry via women’s surf culture. As we note in various Youth Culture Studies at Label Networks, more females want to learn to surf than males and the aspiration around the lifestyle of surfing, i.e. shopping for apparel, accessories, and associating with the icons of female surf competitions are all clear signs at the potential for growth.
Unfortunately, instead of more money funneling into women’s surfing, many of the competitions have been cut, meaning less of an opportunity for girls to see women surfing professionals, which is a detriment to the sport.
As we noted also in our story on the U.S. Open of Surfing (for the past few years), the prize money for women surfers (surfing the same wave on the same day as the men finalists) is a fraction of the amount that the men win. You won’t find this in snowboarding whereby brands like Burton make sure prize purses are the same for professional competitors.
Until there’s a change in the culture of surfing to re-shape strategies that are more female-focused, the industry will never reach it’s full potential.