Chart from Label Networks’ Spring 2007 Youth Culture Report–North America. Note Quiksilver’s “non-ranking” in the top 20 “Favorite Fashion Brands”

It’s almost painful to continue reading and writing about Quiksilver these days as they continue to re-invent themselves in the harsh wide-open of being a public company. Do a search on “Quiksilver” on our network for all of our latest stories, but here’s something that is even more important to note: The writing was on the wall ages ago that Quiksilver was losing its core target market share among 13-25-year-old consumers. I do believe Label Networks is the only company that has such data -and actually we have data ranking from consumers’ preferences on top brands and Quiksilver dating back to 2000, not to mention their ranking in 5 Western countries in Europe, Japan, and China.

But in this story, we focus on the results to one of many fashion questions in our North American Youth Culture Study, “What is your favorite brand of clothing?” Results over the last 5 years among 13-25-year-olds based on our representative sampling of more than 5,000 young people from 49 different locations, gathered twice per year (that’s more than 10,000 per year total) show that Quiksilver lost it and grew “older” starting way back in 2000. We mentioned this then, and every year since, along with other brands such as Levi Strauss, which did a nice job of re-inventing itself, first in Europe where we saw the rebound in consumer preferences, and now in North America,. But with Quiksilver, the preferences continued to show the brand getting higher percentages among older demographics to the point where it was off our charts in North America (we end at 25 years-old in North America but extend to 30 in other countries).

Quiksilver has become “something my Dad wears.” Not only that, the brand missed the boat when the whole surf-trend declined even though Hollister was making money off aspects of the lifestyle, but has since slipped. Unfortunately, Quiksilver become so closely associated with surf, that the anti-surf backlash (which they still don’t see happening) hurt them even more in terms of consumer preferences in youth culture.

While Roxy has done well among young women, but now is much lower and moved far younger in preferences, and DC, which they bought a few years ago, has taken the edge among favorite brands in youth culture in North America, Quiksilver couldn’t make up the ground. Brands such as Hot Topic, Rocawear, and Volcom screamed past it in our preferences charts in 06 and 07, and Quiksilver dropped more and more.

If you were to compare data from Fall 2008, for example, Quiksilver overall ranked 34th as favorite fashion brand among 13-25-year-olds. This was behind DC which ranked 21st and Billabong which ranked 22nd. It was higher among males than females but still not in the top 20.

In the Fall of 2007 however, Quiksilver ranked 28th overall, so it was doing slightly better, and 15th among 13-25-year-olds males. However it was at it’s lowest in percentages among 15-17-year-olds.

In the Spring of 2007, Quiksilver ranked 27th. You can see the progression here.

Eventually, brands that had more of a crossover appeal, including the blank T-shirt market such as American Apparel, and fast-fashion retailers such as H&M, and of course the music and action sports-centric Volcom and Hurley all skipped right past Quiksilver which grew older and less in favor by an entirely new generation.

On the flip side, across the pond we did see Quiksilver doing OK but then again, some countries are still just now hitting their stride when it comes to action sports -a trend that has faded considerably already in North America as a new generation of consumers have moved in and others have moved on. Quiksilver also did a nice job of re-inventing itself with Quiksilver Women’s launch and siteLA gallery and art space in Los Angeles. If there’s a bright light for the brand, it’s here -among savvy, hipster 20 or 30-something women. And possibly Eastern Europe, Russia, and parts of China (however Japan, like North America, has moved on according to our data).

If you were to look at just this one question about top fashion brands throughout the years from Label Networks and see who’s changed in terms of lead positions, but also by gender and age groups, that’s where significant trend forecasting comes it. Despite the bad economy now, Quiksilver should have looked at consumer insight data from their core target market and seen that change was drastically needed years ago.