September 6-8, 2013
Orange County Convention Center
Lived In Looks, Festival Ready Fits, And Anything Goes Attitudes Take Center Stage.
By Rhea Cortado
Today’s boardriders are far from one-note sport practitioners. Based on the digital bread crumbs posted on their Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Spotify, and Instagram pages, they like to eat a lot, ride fast motor-powered vehicles, sleep outdoors, urban explore, see and make art, covet high fashion and design, trade music playlists, tag their friends in all of it, and are constantly searching for what’s next in brands and apparel.
Brick-and-mortar retailers that can’t win the online price wars leverage their advantage—seeing and touching in person—and build loiter-friendly environments that speak to customers’ burgeoning diversity of activities. K5 in Encinitas’ new “Explore More” section sells camping stoves merchandised with Hippy Tree T-shirts and DaKine backpacks. Australian brand Deus Ex Machina’s Venice location dispenses gourmet coffee, surfboards, it’s own branded clothing line and is a meet-up spot for custom motorcycle gawkers.
Expect Spring 2013 product to look like the wardrobe for a lifestyle trailer depicting lads or ladies on the quest for adrenaline fix adventure on any choice of wheels and sleds. Last season’s cleaned-up and graduated classics for men continue with new subtly worn-in washes, fresh colors and smart, functional details for travel and trouble-making. For women, music festival–type looks are still queen bee. Though skirt hemlines rise and fall and sweater proportions expand and contract, the common thread is that the ensemble has some raw, ragged edge and bite to it.
Now that they've warmed up to khaki chinos, guys will be ready to try non-denim pants in more daring colors next year, like INSIGHT's shown here.
In The Wash
Men’s knits’ and bottoms’ silhouettes remain relatively static, which means designers are tinkering with washes, artistic dying, textured fabrics, and fit to inspire the customer to replace last year’s go-to raglan tee with one that has an altered neckline and sleeve length. Tanks will mutate into muscle tees and non-denim bottoms are bolder in color and fabric.
No matter the item, a washed hand feel and slightly aged finish is a requirement, as if the pieces have withstood a few seasons’ worth of exposed urban cycling rides, asphalt grime, and scorching, salty boat trips.
RVCA describes its “Mescalito Highway” delivery as “inspired by desert roads, beating sun, and peyote shaman—this collection is weathered.” Analog’s Joey Jorgensen says new fabrications, unique printing, and dying processes infuse freshness to successful styles. Its dropped-shoulder seam shirt is a balance of lean in the chest and loose in the shoulders, and “has a stretched-out thrift-store look to it,” Jorgenson adds.
Denim is holding steady, while chinos are going gangbusters. Slim cut pants will be seen in new fabrics and washes. Robbie Owens-Russo of Insight is trying out different fabric weights and fabrics and has added more color options for its popular Civilian II pant. Similarly, Rhythm updated colorways in its Beach Party Pant and Ian Control Cord.
All About Accessorizing
Bags, shoes, and accessories are inching up the ladder toward high design and are deepening the lifestyle narrative. Vintage-inspired bags that completed last year’s outdoor story get upgraded with redesigned interiors to fit all the latest headphones, smartphones, tablets, and slim laptops.
Simplicity and function for traveling is the cornerstone of VSTR’s clothing, and its nomadic accessories hit the same note, such as waterproof laptop cases and multi-faceted add-ons for an iPhone. “We are even currently developing a VSTR travel toothbrush. You know, the essentials,” says creative director John Moore. Special releases include an organic surf wax with Juniper Ridge and a Sandow Birk “Old Bull, Young Bull” beach towel and tooled leather belt.
Owens-Russo of Insight says that the hottest new accessory is “probably as simple as socks! With the whole chino, courier-inspired roll-up pant phase, these comfort accessories will be highlights.”
Wooing The Beach Babe
In the ultra-competitive women’s fashion market, surf brands must maximize their stories to forge emotional connections. Collaborations with special artists, fashion bloggers, and music talents rack up the cool points, credibility, and press impressions. Billabong’s Spring ’13 collaborations with artist Maya Hayuk and Andy Davis ensure exclusive product and media buzz. Element Eden’s Advocate program highlights women who are more than just riders.
“We like to remind the consumer that we are more than just a cute dress. We are a way of life,” says Element Eden’s Alexandra Swanson. “Our mission is to inspire girls along their own paths. It’s important to us to stand behind this thinking by supporting visionary women and instilling a sense of confidence in personal style.”
Brands push technology and design on boardshorts and hybrid shorts for Spring 2013, such as these by HURLEY.
“Girls who are looking for something disposable, we don’t really compete with them,” says Bob Abdel of Jack’s Surf Shops. “Our stuff is more quality, more fashion, and more surfing. The surfing atmosphere is completely different than over there.”
If the action sports dude has perpetual grease grime, dust, and sand underneath his fingernails, the beach bunny’s edge is in her confidence and costume: subtly sexy T-shirt cuts, decaying threads on cut-off shorts, tomboy chambray shirting, and in-your-face body con pieces.
Girls obsessively overthink the puzzle pieces of how separate items become an outfit: shorts versus a skirt, jacket versus a sweater, blouse versus a knit tee. Designers considered the exhaustive number of styling scenarios for every piece so that when they hit the retail floor, the customer gets the highest value and mileage for her purchase.
Sweaters and knits were cited by brands as the most versatile items for any ensemble, offered in crochet, fringe, texture-rich yarns, large open weaves, dip-dye effects and ethnic undertones. “Easing into Spring, knits play the biggest role,” says Kristy Michaels of RVCA. “Fun washes, macramé, and fringe help translate a basic knit into a more fashionable piece. The idea behind our knits is they can be worn many different ways. One day a knit can be thrown with cut-offs for a day at the beach and the next that same knit can be paired with skinny denim or printed pants for a sexy night out.”
Athletic knit cover-ups and boyish tops were key to defining DC’s new women’s range. “Our goal is to provide key pieces that allow our customer to mix and create their own unique style…Athletic layering will be strong [such as a] raw cut boyish fleece over a delicate dress. The perfect contradiction will continue to trend,” explains Cristiana Janssen of DC.
In shorts, skirts, and dresses, it’s almost anything goes, and each brand has a checklist of the key shapes interpreted in their own way: denim shorts, easy-to-wear, loose, structured maxis, minis, midis, and high-low hemlines.
Last year’s key silhouettes of maxi length, high-low hemlines, and breezy beach cover-ups will be cut in colorful knit or woven prints and mixed up with crochet and fringe detailing. Over at Billabong, Robinson’s “festival friendly” favorites are a tie-dye textured gauze dress with a handkerchief hemline and fringe, a high-low crochet dress, and sweet tropical sundresses with structured tops.
While it’s easy to get swept away by the hottest new thing on the block, Michaels remembers that customers come to RVCA for quality, not disposability. “A customer can look to us for ‘classic’ clothing items that do not necessarily focus around the fast, ever-changing trends. We definitely touch on the trends; however, we want to provide ‘lasting’ items that the consumer can wear for years to come,” Michaels says.
Keep Calm And Carry On: With the rapid pace of electronic upgrades, bags are going from beta to 2.0. They must be stylish on the outside but also compartment compatible to protect and store accumulating gadgets. Think carry-on size for bike riding, skateboarding, and trekking to the campsite.
Live Free And Dye: Even with more cleaned-up styling, nothing is ever too crispy clean. In all men’s categories, playing with washes and dyes was one way to infuse fresh style and life to classic tricks. Super-soft hand feels and unique yarns will make him think twice. For girls, dye techniques were bigger and bolder, such as tie-dying on dresses, dip-dye sweaters, and colorful bright hues for denim shorts and pants. Wear
Now And Later: Girls come to action sports brands for trend, not trendy, i.e., disposable. She expects higher quality and sharper, thoughtful details from us. Best bets are interesting sweaters that can still be worn into the next seasons, knits that utilize original prints (clever plays on logos and brand names, of course), shorts with ragged bite, and easy, light sundresses (both long and short) that personify coastal happiness. ―RC
An Insightful Look At What’s Trending Across The Nation Through The Eyes Of The Industry’s Most Influential Retail Buyers.
What are the top items you think will be important for spring this year?
Carrie Jennings (Buyer at Killer Dana, Online and Dana Point, California): Boardshorts, men’s tanks, and juniors’ skirts.
Kahana Kalama (Co-Owner at Aloha Sunday, San Diego, California): The key components to any product that’s doing really well in the shop is: it’s unique, there aren’t a huge number of brands creating the exact same product, they are under-distributed, there is a story to tell, and the final thing is that it’s very simple. It’s easy to explain.C
hristina Ferrucci (Buying Director at nastygal.com, Online): Right now I’m really into blouses. Pairing a blouse with cutoffs has become a Nasty Gal staple around the office and on our site. It’s a great way to make cutoffs look more interesting, especially when you pair them with a sloppily tucked button-up and cute belt. Spikes continue to be huge for us as well. Lastly, lightweight outerwear is always a spring staple for us.
Joel Hibbard (Buyer at Sitka, Vancouver, Canada): For men, a good summer hat, light canvas shoes, and a wallet your grandfather would be proud of. Women: Loose knit ponchos, sun hats, and the perfect pair of sunglasses.
What’s the difference between online and brick-and-mortar customers?
Jennings: It is like buying for two different stores. Our online customer is more traditional, and our brick-and-mortar customer is more willing to step outside of the box and try new items.
What’s new in how you are displaying products and the general retail environment?
Jennings: Going forward, all of our vendors have partnered with us for individual racks. We believe this will make for a better shopping experience, as it tends to be split down the middle with some people shopping by brand while others are driven to shop for a specific item. Look out for our new section designated to “Vendor of the Month.”
Kalama: You can get who we are just based on the buildouts, the reclaimed wood, all that sort of stuff. There isn’t any over-the-top branding from any brand. The boards are kind of tucked away in the back corner, and we display some boards [up front] with really nice finishes, resin tints. It’s not going to make someone who doesn’t surf feel like they don’t belong in the store.
Ferrucci: Look books are huge for us. It’s a way for us to engage our customers and get them excited about the product. Our May look book was all about mixing prints and piling on jewelry, and it was a cool way to talk about spring without being so literal.
Hibbard: Not only does [having a retail store] ensure that people can see the full Sitka line the way it was originally envisioned, but it also allows us to complement our collections with other brands. I see a lot of people drawn to the store because of intangible parts of the culture around the shop. Everyone is excited and passionate here, and I hope we inspire everyone who comes through the front door.
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