The stories and trends that shaped our industry in 2017

We reflect upon the year's most influential stories and overarching trends.

As we look back on 2017, a few common themes emerge in the adventure sports and outdoor space. We’ve put together a list of stories that shaped the year as they unfolded, from January through the final hours of 2017.

January

top stories 2017

American Apparel made the decision to shutter its LA headquarters and all 110 of its U.S. retail storefronts.

American Apparel announces closure of L.A. headquarters, all 110 U.S. stores

It’s no secret that brick and mortar retail has been challenged this year, an unfortunately, the news that American Apparel would be shuttering 110 of its U.S. locations was some of the more heavy retail news to start off the year.

top stories 2017

The September 2016 issue of SURFING.

The consolidation of global properties SURFER and SURFING

For avid surf fans and readers all over the globe, the news that Surfing magazine would close its doors left ripples in an already consolidated surf universe. The strategic move, however, placed SURFER front and center, poised to continue its reign as the long-standing bible of the sport.

February

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The dispute over Utah’s public lands designation leads to outdoor industry uproar

Kicking off a chain of events that saw us right through the end of 2017, Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution in February urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, which President Obama had put in place at the end of his term.

A chain reaction of outdoor industry support for Bears Ears led to protest of the state and its decision by key brands like Patagonia, Arc’teryx and PolarTec pulling out of the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City.

At the same time, REI and The North Face pledged to remain loyal to the show as they re-evaluated venue options. The issue had everyone talking, with no shortage of opinions and ideas.

Despite overwhelming unpopularity from the outdoor industry and its multi-million dollar influence in the state, Utah’s state officials refused to budge on the issue.

Billabong sells Tigerlily brand

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Billabong sells Tigerlily brand for $60 million.

The signs of Billabong’s efforts to unload brands and regain its position in the market started in 2016 with the sale of Sector 9, and continued into 2017 with Tiger Lily’s acquisition by Crescent Capital Partners.

Resort consolidation was an ongoing theme in 2017

top stories 2017

Stowe Mountain in Vermont is now under the wing of Vail Resorts, which owns a myriad of other mountains across the country.

In the first of many moves in 2017 by major resort corporations, Vail Resorts announced in February its plans to purchase Stowe for $50 million.

March

boardriders inc. & oaktree capital discuss new name

Quiksilver’s new retail location on Pacific Coast Highway is anticipated to open Fall 2017.

Major changes at adventure sports companies

In March, several big names went through some rather large changes. GoPro, which underwent a few setbacks with its drone recall, made the decision to eliminate 270 positions across its multi-headquarter locations.

top stories 2017

GoPro’s strategy gets flipped on its head, as 2017 presents a few challenges.

Around the same time, Quiksilver Inc. underwent an identity overhaul. While the iconic Quiksilver brand still stands, the corporate entity made a symbolic name change in March signifying a new chapter for the company, setting them up for big things to come in the last half of 2017.

April

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Emerald Expositions owns Outdoor Retailer, which experienced a year of changes with Utah’s public land disputes and relocating from Utah to Denver.

Acquisitions, IPO’s and continued resort consolidation

Another big month for news, April saw the acquisition of LRG by Mad Engine, a leading global licensed-apparel wholesaler for brands such as Marvel, Star Wars, Disney, Nickelodeon and many more.

stories that rocked the industry 2017

Mammoth resorts was acquired by KSL Capital and Aspen Skiing Company.

Surf Expo and Outdoor Retailer parent company Emerald Expositions announced plans to go public, and resort consolidation continued with Aspen Skiing Company swallowing up Intrawest Resorts, which include Steamboat and Stratton Mountain, and then Mammoth Resorts as part of a joint venture with KSL Capital.

May

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Photo courtesy of K2.

The acquisitions trend ran deep in May, especially inside the snowsports industry.

K2 and Ride Snowboards parent company Newell Brands announced it would be acquired by Kohlberg & Company as part of $240 million winter sports brand sale. The deal resulted in a new holding company, chairman and leadership team for the brands.

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Neff has been acquired by Mad Engine

On the tradeshow front, Emerald Expositions acquired SIA Snow Show, setting up what would soon be a shared experience for 2018.

After announcing its acquisition of skate and streetwear brand LRG in April, Mad Engine followed up that news with its purchase of Neff, a brand rooted in snowboarding lifestyle.

June

top stories 2017

Jack O’Neill. Photo: Courtesy of O’Neill

Paying tribute to lost legends

The surf community lost two legends in June: SURFER Founder John Severson and O’Neill Founder Jack O’Neill.

top stories 2017

Nike faced its share of challenges in 2017, restructuring its workflow with a focus on direct to consumer sales.

In other news from June, Olukai made an investment in emerging brand Roark Revival.

Nike announced it would undergo a major restructuring, cutting about 2% of its global workforce, or 1,400 employees.

chloe kim secures U.S. Olympic spot Dew Tour

Chloe Kim clinches a spot on the U.S. Olympic team with her winning run at Dew Tour.

As everyone looked forward to an approaching Olympic year, Dew Tour became sanctioned as a U.S. ski and snowboard Olympic qualifying event for the 2018 Games. The event went off without a hitch in December, and saw key athletes like Chloe Kim qualify for the global event.

July

top stories 2017

Nike released this mock up of what we can expect from the new buildings. Photo: Nike

On the heels of its restructuring news, Nike announces a $1 billion campus expansion, adding three new buildings totaling a collective 3.2 million square feet to its existing infrastructure. Real estate and construction experts speculated the project is ringing in at the tune of $1 billion.

Changes to the tradeshow space

top stories 2017

The main stage in full swing at Agenda Festival Summer 2017. Photo: Kevin Wong

The first-ever Agenda consumer day was a hit, drawing a crowd of 15k attendees to Long Beach following the traditional industry tradeshow that’s been in place for nearly 15 years. The event marks Agenda’s big shift in 2017 from an endemic, business-to-business audience to a more direct-to-consumer approach, similar to many of the companies in our space.

In other tradeshow news, Outdoor Retailer announces its big move to Denver, following the Utah land dispute over Bears Ears. The move also signified the shows alignment with sister show SIA Snow Show, and we will see the first iteration of what that’s like in the Mile-High city this January.

August

top stories 2017

Consumers will now have the capability to order Walmart products on Google Express. Photo: Benjamin Dada/Unsplash

On the retail front, Google and Walmart (and later Target) partnered up to compete with powerhouse Amazon. The move, which combined the low prices of Walmart and the accessibility of Google, was intended to provide a viable opponent to Amazon's current dominance of the online retail market -- a speculation that has yet to be proven out as 2017 comes to a close.

Even more consolidation

Mammoth Mountain. Photo: Facebook

The consolidation of ski resorts continued, with KSL Capital joint venture acquiring Deer Valley Resort. The newly-formed resort group also named Erik Forsell, former CMO of Mammoth Resorts, as its new CMO.

High Cascade and Windells summer camps saw further consolidation, a trend that’s been ongoing since 2014, when High Cascade and Windells joined forces to form a parent company called We Are Camp.

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Dickies parent Williamson-Dickie was scooped up by VF Corp.

VF Corp announced it would acquire Dickies parent Williamson-Dickie -- one of several acquisitions of the year for VF Corp, and symbolic of the company’s heavier investment into the workwear market.

A 2017 outdoor recreation study indicated that outdoor participation reached 144 million, or 48.8% of the U.S. population. The metric marked an overall increase in outdoor sports participation, year over year.

September

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Steve Van Doren (third from left) and the Vans support team head to Texas to provide relief aid to those who have been hit the hardest. Photo: Courtesy of Vans

The industry responds to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

Due to Hurricane Irma, which caused an estimated $2.8 billion impact on retail, Surf Expo’s September show was called short on safety concerns as weather forecasters stumbled to predict the storm’s exact path.

In the meantime, many companies in our industry including Vans, Ethika and Jetty pulled together to help fellow friends, colleagues and families who were hit by the devastating effects of Irma’s predecessor, Harvey.

In other news, Nike reports even more job cuts -- 490 more, to be exact -- expected before the end of September.

October

top stories 2017

Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters /Unsplash

Amazon, the mega-retailer causing serious disruption across consumer spending, announced it would partner with a Taiwanese vendor and supplier to create its own line of athleisure apparel. The vendor apparently also produces apparel for major companies like Gap, Uniqlo and Kohl’s Corp. The move gives Amazon even more firepower to fulfill gaps in the market and indicates an even more significant shift toward direct-to-consumer demand.

November

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Steve Van Doren goes on camera at a recent Warped Tour stop. Photo: Vans

After nearly 25 years, the Warped Tour comes to a close, ending an era the iconic traveling music festival established for itself since 1994. At the heart of the tour since its inception, Steve Van Doren reflected on what it means to say goodbye to Warped and how its shaped the iconic footwear brand over the years.

On the heels of the Dickies acquisition, VF Corp scoops up merino wool specialist Icebreaker to add to its ever-growing portfolio.

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Icebreaker prides itself on innovative products and sustainable sourcing.

Burton also unveiled the U.S. Snowboard Team Olympic uniforms, which took a creative spin on the red-white-and-blue colorways we’ve seen in the past.

December

patagonia files suit bears ears

Bears Ears National Monument. Photo: Jeff Foott/Patagonia

We sure did end the year with a bang.

Patagonia, joined by a group of conservationist and outdoor industry companies and alliances, filed a suit earlier this month over the Trump administration's decision to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument.

top stories 2017

Keith Hufnagel, founder of HUF. Photo: HUF

Popular streetwear and skate company HUF announced its sale to Japanese apparel group, TSI. And, perhaps the biggest news of all, longtime rivals Billabong and Quiksilver could be sitting under one parent company soon if a proposal submitted by Quik parent Boardriders Inc. goes through to purchase Billabong.

We’ll have to wait and see what 2018 brings!

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