It's been a whirlwind of a year. As it comes to a close, we take time to look back at the overarching trends, new brands that were birthed, and the big executive moves and company changes that have rocked our space.
Weighing the top 50 most highly-trafficked stories and the most important news that crossed our desks this year, we’ve compiled one last glance at the year that was, before we charge into 2019.
It’s no surprise that 2018 delivered a healthy dose of renewed focus on women, youth, minorities and an overall spirit of total inclusivity. Action and adventure sports are at the precipice of a global revolution – especially with surfing’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics and IOC-sanctioned events like the the announcement of the ANOC World Beach Games 2019 propelling our sports into the limelight. What better time than now to grow and embrace our diversity as an industry, on a world stage?
Vans kicked off the year with its global campaign to support women skateboarders – and the women executives that work for the brand.
Dew Tour added Women's skateboard Street and Park competitions to its summer Long Beach event line up, and Camp Woodward introduced a new campaign to push inclusivity, and emphasize that action sports camp isn’t just for youth who are trying to go pro.
Fittingly, the 21st edition of Surf Summit delivered an impactful message from Bobby Hundreds about how inclusivity could play a huge role in the surf market's growth.
Citing more than 250 million migrants worldwide, Hundreds said it would be amiss of the surf industry to not address the ever-growing racially diverse audience that is not just a rising trend in America, but globally.
Social and Environmental Responsibility
Social and environmental responsibility have moved to the forefront of many companies’ messaging. Some of the most captivating stories are coming from the brands whose business revolves around this concept – and who aren’t just attempting to add a single sustainable element to their business in order to “follow the trend.”
Volcom rolled out its New Future Alliance which hones in on multiple facets of the business, and highlights some of the amazing work the company has been doing with its Fair Trade organic cotton program.
The Ecology Center expanded its reach to the San Diego County community of Encinitas, where it’s been working all year to scale its 'Farm to Table' message with farming and food programs for youth and adults.
We also talked to Seea about the evolution of its sourcing, manufacturing and packaging processes, which has moved the company to a more sustainable model.
New Strategies for Heritage Brands
A few of our industry’s heritage companies breathed new life into their strategies for 2018.
Body Glove rolled out its 'Create Happiness' campaign with a yoga tour that will continue into 2019, as well as a grassroots fitness initiative.
We talked to VP of Marketing Mike Matey about the strategy behind Reef's rebrand, which was created to better align the brand with its roots.
Electric Women's split its 2019 collection into two categories: fashion and sport. The intention behind the change is to better to speak to its consumers’ needs and better educate retailers when it comes to merchandising.
The Outdoor Industry is Here to Stay
Although we didn’t need anyone to tell us that outdoor-inspired gear has moved to the forefront, this report confirms that the outdoor industry is a force to be reckoned with. According to the US Department of Commerce, the outdoor recreation market brings in $373 billion annually; that’s a lot of fleece jackets and headlamps.
How Do We Define Trade Shows Now?
Several years worth of discussions continue to reshape the role of trade shows. This year, after deliberating on the role of its B2B platform, Agenda decided to put its Winter Long Beach show, usually held at the beginning of January, on hold while the events team turns their energy toward festivals and other consumer-facing events. Agenda Las Vegas, however, will remain on the docket for February.
After acquiring SIA Snow Show last year, Outdoor Retailer has also gone through some reorganizing when it comes to show dates as a way to accomodate the many buyers and moving pieces that are now part of the winter show. The first round of a combined Snow Show + OR was well-received and it seems like the adjustments being made are good for the industry overall.
New Companies Take Shape
Our industry was founded on revolution, evolution, and the changing of the guard. So what better lens through which to view the past year, then by looking at the diverse offering of new companies that has emerged? We think it’s a strong gauge of where things are headed for 2019.
Pro skater Evan Smith launched a new outdoor-inspired brand, No Hotels.
Some of the most talented from the surf and skate community – including Rob Machado and Danny Way – have created Marea Coffee with a focus on single-origin blends.
As the craft brewing scene continues to explode, apparel and streetwear vet James Banuelos explains how he has applied lessons in entrepreneurship to start the surf-inspired beer company Beach Grease.
Straight from the mind of snowboarder and entrepreneur Takahiro Miyasaka, Bonx launched in the North American market in 2017. We talked to Miyasaka about why he sees so much opportunity with the tech brand in the US and Canada.
Founded by the same masterminds behind major brands like Poler, Finex and Field Notes, Muul burst into the outdoor accessories market this year with a new spin on a backpack that also acts as a cooler, bucket, makeshift chair – and just about any use you can imagine for everyday outdoor adventures.
The founders of Awayco created a solution to the astronomical-costs and hassles often attributed to traveling with board bags. Their new platform connects surfers with shops that rent out surfboards that feature the newest tech and high-performance features.
Longtime surf industry vet Paul Naude, who started Vissla and D’Blanc, has brought a new women’s surf brand into he fold. We caught up with Naude and Marketing Director Gina Turpel to hear the strategy behind SISSTREVOLUTION.
Acquisitions & Changes
Similar to the past several years, 2018 meant more changes afoot at major companies. Below, just a few of the major ones.
Some of the biggest news of year arrived just 5 days into January: Quiksilver Parent, Boardriders Inc., purchased arch-rival Billabong, illustrating on a large scale how much consolidation has enveloped our industry.
In July, Quiksilver listed its massive Torquay, Australia, headquarters for sale as more changes continue to drive the merging of these two major companies.
On the East Coast, VF Corp announced it will be splitting into two publicly traded companies come 2019, with its apparel and footwear brands – including Vans, Reef and The North Face – remaining under the VF Corp umbrella, and its jeans and outlet business spinning off into a new, yet-to-be-named company.
Rounding out the year, Burton Snowboards announced a shift in its executive structure by naming co-CEOs Donna Carpenter and John Lacy. The Carpenters will be moving to Europe at the beginning of 2019 for the year, to hone in more on the company’s European business, while Lacy mans the ship in Burlington, Vermont.
Dakine announced in early December it has been acquired by Marquee Brands, an investment company that also owns Body Glove. More info about the partnership is expected to be revealed in the coming months.
Here’s a list of the most-read stories involving industry execs who shifted roles over the past 12 months.
– Burton’s Creative Officer Greg Dacyshyn Steps Down
– Rip Curl Promotes Dylan Slater President of North America
– K2 Names John Colonna its New Brand President
It is said that the best humans are the ones who are taken from us too soon. In this case, the industry lost a few of its most talented, distinguished and beloved VIP’s this year. We take a few minutes to reflect on the impact their lives and legacy had on us – and will continue to have on the future.
In August, the snowboarding community lost one of its most talented, passionate advocates and most discerning voices, Gerhard Gross. His legacy, which he imparted on all who knew him and through the pages of TransWorld Snowboarding and most recently as the content director for Dew Tour, will continue to live on in the community.
The surf industry was stunned to learn of the loss of Boardriders Inc.(formerly Quiksilver) CEO Pierre Agnes, after his boat was lost at sea in February. Ultimately, searches were called off, and condolences from the surf industry began rolling in. Paddle outs in California and his native France were held in his honor.
The industry lost former SPY CEO Seth Hamot. Hamot was chairman of Spy’s board of directors and served as CEO from 2015 until late 2017, when he stepped down to focus on his family, health and business ventures close to his home in Boston.
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