Kenna Fliore, VP of Sales & Marketing for Quiksilver Girl's and Women's

Kenna Fliore, VP of Sales & Marketing for Quiksilver Girl's and Women's

For the past few months, whispers and rumors of Quiksilver altering its strategy to connect with female customers have grown to a roar. Despite the rumors, the company has remained silent—until now. In this exclusive interview, VP of Sales and Marketing Kenna Florie outlines the details behind Quiksilver’s new  junior’s line: Quiksilver Girl’s.

She also breaks down why it makes sense for Quiksilver—which already operates Roxy and Quiksilver Women’s—to launch a namesake line of junior’s apparel and accessories, where the brand will be distributed, the overall design direction of the initial line, and the marketing program that she has in place.

Here’s everything you need to know about Quiksilver Girl’s:

Why does it make sense to launch this brand now, when most junior’s brands have been struggling?

About three years ago, when I was the VP of Marketing at Roxy, we did some market research with an outside agency that targeted girls across the U.S. and Canada. We learned that only about 7% of girls nation-wide knew that Quiksilver and Roxy are associated.

We were really surprised about that … So, we tested this twice and we actually had our brothers on the Quiksilver side test it because we were all very fascinated with the results.

What we learned is that there wouldn’t be as much confusion in the marketplace as we thought there’d be [by launching a namesake female brand]. That led us to launching Quiksilver Women’s. We have had really good success with Quiksilver Women’s because it has taken us into the young contemporary marketplace, which we haven’t been able to penetrate before.

We’re doing really well with that [Women’s] and have full intentions of continuing to go forward with it, but it also made us keep thinking about whether or not we should launch a junior’s brand. That’s where the consumer most associates the Quiksilver brand anyway, in that 12-24 year old market, so we decided we’re going to go for it.

How long has this project been in the works?

It has really developed over the last 18 months or so. Once we made the decision it went pretty fast. We were quick to hire an outside design firm [Pop Studio] and get everything in place. I moved over [from VP of Marketing at Roxy] into this position to do sales and marketing, and they had Susan Branch [head of M&D] start taking over the design.

How has the sales staff been structured, and are there separate sales forces for Roxy and Quiksilver Women’s?

We have 9 sales reps on the Quiksilver Women’s side and I just hired 10 sales reps to cover the United States and Canada for Quiksilver’s junior’s line. We are keeping them totally separate because we see the account bases being very different. There are some surf/ specialty accounts that will carry both lines, but we want to continue focusing the Quiksilver Women’s line on the young contemporary market. So we felt it was important to keep a separate sales group managing that product.

The new sales reps for Quiksilver Girl’s start on August 1.

What else can you tell me about the design firm you hired?

We used a design firm in L.A. called Pop Studio. The Principal for Pop Studio is John Moore, and he came formerly from Modern Amusement. He really understands the DNA of Quiksilver, is a surfer himself, and understands the whole coastal vibe.

What’s the design direction and inspiration of the line?

The color story is a lot more subdued than what you’d expect from a brand like Roxy. Roxy is very colorful, bright, and energetic. The Quiksilver Girl’s line is a little bit more romantic in feel. There are some blues and greens, some chambray, gray, and some washed whites.

It’s classic in nature, which doesn’t mean it’s not on-trend, but it’s not a trendy line. It’s built around pieces that are worn and loved and you keep in your closet for a very long time.

A few examples from the new line.

A few examples from the new line.

How does Quiksilver Girl’s product compare to Roxy and Quiksilver Women’s from a price point standpoint?

Price point wise it’s more in line with Roxy [than Quiksilver Women’s].  It’s right in that mid-to-upper tier junior’s marketplace [$24-$88]. It will sit on the floor at the same pricing structure as its competitors.

What’s the initial distribution plan?

For the first year, we’re opening about 500 accounts, which is around 1,100 doors. The majority of the sales will be coming out of surf specialty. We haven’t decided on second year, we’ve kept that in the reserves for right now. All we know is that we’re committing year one to just surf specialty distribution, our stores, and We’re going to see how it goes.

I will say that we have a plan for very aggressive growth for the division. Who knows if the marketplace is open to taking another junior’s line at the magnitude and size of Roxy, but this will be a line we see tremendous growth from in the future.

We acknowledge that it’s a tough market out there, but we’ve also got some incentives in place to make this worthwhile for retailers. Namely, the fixture program that we have, the marketing program in place, and the fact that this will be exclusive product for our surf specialty base. I think they [specialty retailers] really want that right now, and they don’t want to compete with those big retailers.

What types of marketing will be rolled out for the brand? Will there be athlete involvement, a model, brand ambassador, or face of the brand?

We don’t have a face of the brand as of yet and I don’t know if we’re going to. We definitely will not be signing athletes to the line. Roxy really owns that position with world-class athletes, so we’ll let them have that.

We plan on doing some different things when it comes to the marketing side. We’ll be running print ads in titles like Foam and Nylon, so there will be a little bit of traditional advertising to anchor our campaign, but what we’re really looking at is more of a viral, online, and product-seeding initiative.

We feel like the product is so good, and I’m a big believer that with this younger audience if you can get an item of clothing into their closet they will become a fan. Product seeding in the marketplace is going to be a big deal for us and second to that online marketing is going to be big.

We’re probably not going to go the traditional banner sense, but we’ll be sending geo-targeted messages and messages targeted to individual girls to increase brands awareness and let them know that Quiksilver is making product for the junior’s consumer and exactly where in their area they can purchase the product.

What about in-store campaigns, POP, Windows, etc?

All of our accounts that we open up for year one will get a fixture program—we’re really big on that. We’re trying to reinvent the look and feel of traditional fixtures a little bit and utilizing video consoles into the fixtures and getting the girl to actually interact with the brand.

We’ll also be doing a window campaign because it’s such a great way to capture eyeballs and increase awareness. But I don’t think you’re going to see a bunch of traditional cardboard easels coming out of the Quiksilver Girl’s brand.

Have you been pre-lining, and if so how’s the feedback been so far?

We have not been pre-lining at all. We’ve been keeping this a little bit hush-hush because we’re really proud of the line and did not want to show the line until all the samples were complete and all in. We’re going to be making as spectacular a debut as we possibly can … [However] the majority of the feedback we’ve been getting from retailers so far is that they are excited to have something just for them. We need to give the girl a reason to come back into the surf shop.

When will retailers first see the product?

We launch officially at Agenda Tradeshow, and our sales meeting is that week also. The reps will not officially hit the road until August 20. That’s when the sample lines will be mailed out and we’re actually gong to be rolling out a pretty intense retail education program to all of our reps.

What can you tell me about that initiative?

We’re utilizing iPads to empower our reps to educate retailers on the line, and also reinventing the way that line guides have been used in the past. We’re trying to get away from printing paper line guides to produce sales. We feel like it’s time to step into new technology, and we’re using iPads with line guides on them with a plan to hopefully have retailers be placing their orders directly using iPads within the next 6 months.

Year one our goal is to cut down line guide production by 50% of what we normally do, and if by year two we can shave another 10% off of that we’re making inroads then. We’re hoping in the next two to three years we’re not even doing line guides anymore and getting the buyer to be very comfortable purchasing straight through their iPad or computer.

When does it begin shipping to stores?

We’re 2/25, 3/25, and 4/25. That’s technically Spring/ Summer, and then we’ll go straight into fall after that. So the shipments are pretty traditional with what we’ve always done for Quiksilver … This is a little bit different in that we’re starting late. Traditionally we’d start shipping Spring 12/25, so we are going late to the market because we see the consumer is going towards a ‘wear now’ perspective. So we felt good about waiting until 2/25 to launch this.

How big is the line and what product categories will it include?

There are 108 items in the line, and the majority of it is sportswear comprised of denim, shorts, dresses, wovens, fleece, and some knits. There’s also a very limited selection of swimwear and accessories. We felt like-especially with swimwear-that since we’re launching with Spring/ summer that it just makes sense to have swimwear as a part of the line. We call it modern coastal classics. That’s the title we’re constantly going to use to describe the line, and if you’re going to have a coastal line I think you should probably have swimwear. Girls these days use it as a layering piece these days anyway, not just for in the water.

The accessories are also a very limited selection, but we felt it really rounded out the line. They are very beach-inspired also and stick with that casual coastal style.

We’re not doing footwear in year one, but that could change. As of right now we do not have it in the line.

Stay Tuned to for photos and a recap of the launch party, to be held at Quiksilver’s Huntington Beach, California headquarters on Thursday, August 5.

Here’s the official press release & launch party announcement:

Quiksilver To Launch New Juniors Line of Modern Coastal Classics

Company Celebrates Its New Spring/Summer 2011 Collection

With a Private Party and Fashion Preview in Southern California

Huntington Beach, Calif. (July 27, 2010) – On Thursday evening, August 5, Quiksilver will open its Huntington Beach headquarters to approximately one thousand special guests for a private party and fashion preview to celebrate its new global juniors line of modern coastal classics.  Spring/Summer 2011 ranges for the collection will debut at upcoming trade events including The Agenda Show in Huntington Beach, as well as Class @ ASR in San Diego and the Surf Expo tradeshow in Orlando.

“We’ve come to realize that there is tremendous potential for our globally powerful Quiksilver brand in the juniors market,” said Bob McKnight, Quiksilver CEO.  “We have always looked for inventive ways to diversify our brands to fulfill the needs of our customers and we are very excited to expand our Quiksilver product offering in the young contemporary and juniors categories this season.”

The new Quiksilver line was designed to appeal to the 19 year-old girl with a coastal mindset and independent spirit.  Built on a classic, understated aesthetic with great washes and quality fabrics, finishing and fit, this line will appeal to a girl with a superior taste level.  The surfing spirit will be built into every garment, giving it an authentic edge. Priced in the mid-tier range of the juniors market at $24-$88, the new line will be available at select surf specialty retailers, Quiksilver flagship stores and online retailers and will complement the popular Quiksilver Womens collection.

“Quiksilver is committed to creating exceptional products for women who love the coastal lifestyle,” said Kenna Florie, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Quiksilver’s Womens Division. “To further our commitment to the womens business this year, we are dedicating separate sales, marketing and design teams to the new and existing collections in order to build the strongest womens program in the surf apparel industry.”

Quiksilver will introduce new and unique marketing and sales initiatives to support the expanded women’s product offerings, including: retail education, social media/viral marketing, and savvy strategies integrating new technology to simplify communications between sales reps and key accounts.

About Quiksilver:

Quiksilver, Inc. (NYSE:ZQK) is the world’s leading outdoor sports lifestyle company, which designs, produces and distributes a diversified mix of branded apparel, footwear, accessories, snowboards and related products. The company’s apparel and footwear brands represent a casual lifestyle for young-minded people that connect with its boardriding culture and heritage.

The reputation of Quiksilver’s brands is based on outdoor action sports. The company’s Quiksilver, Roxy, DC, Lib Tech, and Hawk brands are synonymous with the heritage and culture of surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding.

The company’s products are sold in over 90 countries in a wide range of distribution, including surf shops, skate shops, snow shops, its proprietary Boardriders Club shops and other company-owned retail stores, other specialty stores and select department stores. Quiksilver’s corporate and Americas’ headquarters are in Huntington Beach, California, while its European headquarters are in St. Jean de Luz, France, and its Asia/ Pacific headquarters are in Torquay, Australia.