We caught up with Gulliver Farnan, Art Director of Men’s Apparel at Rip Curl, to get all of the details on the brand’s Summer ’13 boardshort line.
What features are you adding/upgrading for your '13 boardshorts?
We continue to up the ante with our Mirage Boardshorts, introducing great new fabrics, construction advances and aesthetically appealing designs.
What inspired these changes?
We are the ultimate surfing company, aimed at making the ultimate surfing equipment. In every way, our spearhead is our Mirage program, with which we have been able to innovate with fabric, construction and design, while keeping the prices affordable.
How do you breakdown the categories in your boardshort line? Has this changed at all?
I would say that we start at the Mirage/ Top End/ Ultimate Boardshort and then work fabrics, construction technology, research, team rider feedback, etc. all the way through to our Essentials Line. We start out our price point end of the line with our essentials and move up to more fabric interest and fashion flavors with our surf essentials. Then we step up into our Mirage, which is the performance end of the line. Within the Mirage, we offer a lot of different looks and fabrications, with a range of price points between $50 and $90.
How much of your line can be described as "technical", "classic", and "hybrid"? Which of those "categories" are doing the best for you? Are you seeing major growth in the demand for hybrid boardshorts?
Mirage is our technical story and is about 50 – 60 percent of our line. Essentials and Surf Essentials take up the remaining 30 – 40 percent. About half of our walkshort line are now hybrids; We categorize our hybrids into our walkshort offering. We’re also offering double the amount of hybrids than last Spring.
On the technical end, what innovations are you bringing to market and what makes these stand out?
For our 2013 boardshorts, we are introducing a new super stretch ES5. The ES5 uses a higher quality yarn, along with a higher density weave to give greater durability and better stretch memory without compromising on the level of stretch. It was an answer to Mick Fanning, who was looking for a more sturdy, dense feeling fabric. Owen Wright is super happy with and prefers our ES4, which is slightly lighter fabric than in our high end Mirage program. This is continuing on from the amazing performance of our ES3 and ES4 fabrics. With a higher thread count, it is more durable and has better memory while still having amazing flex. We also have EXTERNAL illusion taping technology, which we are using on the outside of our MF1 Mick Fanning Boardshort and Owen Wright endorsed boardshort. By using the tape on the outside, the inside of the short gets an amazing seamless finish. You can’t even feel where the seams go together, so there is no potential for rash. The fabric and seam technology is spearheaded with our one piece construction block. One continuous piece of engineered mastery that’s engineered to wrap around the body and fused together with our EXTERNAL illusion taping, creating the ultimate boardshort.
Are your prices trending up, down, or staying flat?
For the majority of our boardshort line, we are offering greater consumer benefits while keeping the prices competitive. We are seeing better volume in the middle of our Mirage offering, so we are focused on offering more styles between the 50 to $60 price point. We are also working on an under $50 stretch fabric to expand our Mirage offering. But, overall we’re staying pretty flat.
What color stories are you going to be hitting on?
We are seeing great success with our Aggrolite color story, which stemmed from our Aggrolite wetsuits from the eighties and early nineties with neon oranges, limes, pinks, etc.; This is a very strong and vibrant story using clashing neon brights. You’ll definitely get noticed in these things!
Where did you find your inspiration for next year's line?
Our design team pools ideas from a range of different sources, including high fashion, technology, blogs, surfing and nature, to name a few.
What's the latest for waistbands, closures, hem lengths and design pattern lines?
We have developed the new GHOST WAISTBAND, a fused/multi-density stretch waistband construction that features stealth eyelets and batwing fly in our MF1 and Aggrolite Plus styles. Hem lengths on our technical are slightly shorter to make sure we don’t have any knee catch. We are introducing our one piece and illusion tape construction to illuminate seams and enable a lighter and faster performance short. Hem lengths are ranging from 16 inches to 22 inches.
If you had to pick two boardies from the '13 line to bring on your next surf trip, which would they be and why?
The MF1 and the Aggrolite Plus Boardshorts would be the pick. They are incredibly flexible and lightweight and dry super quickly, allowing for more time in the water!
What shorts did best for you last season at retail and how are you carrying over those influences?
Our Mirage Aggrolite has done very well for us. We have introduced this at a higher level with illusion tape for Owen Wright’s style, Aggrolite Plus. Matt Wilkinson’s signature board, the Freeline, has done well for us in-store, so we have given that new life with his new Cassette short for P13. We’re also expanding on the Aggrolite in Spring ’13 and have more team riders in this scalloped look
Which upcoming '13 SKUs do you predict you'll answer for the last question at this time next year?
Owen Wright’s Mirage Aggrolite Plus, the four new Mirage Aggrolite boardies and Matt Wilkinson’s Mirage Cassette boardshort should be our top styles this season
What features/styles/colors didn't do so well and are being axed based on retailer feedback?
We try to make it hard for styles and looks to get axed. However, we find that people can’t buy everything, so we find that some styles don’t get up simply because there are not enough pegs on the wall.
Will there be any changes in delivery dates?
There will not be any major changes, though we are offering less styles in our December delivery and more in our February delivery, as we have found that buyers buy closer to the actual selling windows.
Hybrid, tech, and retro have been the big trends for the last couple seasons – what do you predict will sweep the boardsports scene next?
Right now, we are focused on all-over prints, stripes, color blocking and retro looks to be the new trends coming into our market.