Surf Expo September 2015

The consensus amongst show goers at this week’s Surf Expo show is that there’s a lot of business being done. East Coast buyers are setting appointments to see brands that they otherwise would not get a chance to see. And this September’s show had some new twists.

For example, The Neighborhood is a new section carved out on the show floor for surf lifestyle brands, with many of the industry’s emerging players in the field and getting work done. From eyewear brands like Otis and Von Zipper, to apparel brands like Roark and OurCaste (who have banded together on an apparel collab, which is slightly uncommon in our somewhat competitive space), the brands showing in the Neighborhood definitely were emitting a youthful vibe, and it was really apparent in the aisles throughout the course of day one.

Technology played an increasingly major role, with many of the tech accessory brands building their presence around GoPro, which was drawing some serious traffic around its booth. One of those brands creating buzz in the tech zone was Xsories, a company that is becoming known for its POV cam accessories. The brand is rolling out pocket-sized projectors that have 3 gigs of internal memory, and are USB and WiFi compatible. The idea is genius if you are going camping, having a backyard party, or just want to relax in the living room with a 120 inch screen at your disposal. The company is offering the projectors in  bundle packages for next season—something that retailers are getting excited about, says Sales Manager Josh McLeish.

SP Gadgets was also rolling out some innovative takes on POV mounts, with the most interesting being a mount that screws onto a bottle like a cap, and could be used to float around a pool and capture epic party photos.

It speaks to how younger brands are banding together to tell a story, and shows the evolution of our industry,” says Roark Creative Director and Founder Ryan Hitzel.”The days of the big guys hating each other are gone. We're all here for the same reason.

On the boardshort side, we saw some innovative spins on fabrication and functionality. Roark and OurCaste are launching a boardshort that marries rugged materials and technical features like an attached water resistant phone case that fits in your pocket.

"It speaks to how younger brands are banding together to tell a story, and shows the evolution of our industry—the days of the big guys hating each other are gone. We're all here for the same reason," says Roark Creative Director and Founder Ryan Hitzel.

The beauty of the two apparel brands teaming up is that it also allows them to cross over into each of their niches within retail, giving Roark exposure in many of OurCaste’s boutique-style shops and OurCaste a chance to get in front of many of Roark’s core surf accounts.

O’Neill has a really interesting approach to its new Hyperfreak boardshorts for next summer. They’ve teamed up with Liquipel, a company known for its waterproofing capabilities, and in addition they’ve added the Hyperflow technology in its waistband that uses crushed jade—a stone that naturally cools the body temperature. Rip Curl was showcasing its latest latest update to Mick Fanning’s signature board short and the brand's Mirage Ultimate Series, the Fanning MF Focus, which features welded yoke and inseam, a welded hip pocket, and laser-cut perforations.

On the board side, Laird Hamilton SUP was showing its Surrator board, which is an interesting mash-up of a play on volume and rail shapes, based on snowboards’ magna traction technology. Hamilton got the inspiration to create the Surrator after a heli trip in Alaska, when he realized that SUP boards were lacking “bite” in their rails to make quicker, more controlled turns. Surfboard companies like SUPERbrand and Surftech were also present showcasing the latest shapes, collaborations, and technology.