Fueled by last year's film "Blue Crush," surfing images are proliferating this season. Target Corp.'s "Red" campaign features teens with surfboards. The new "Charlie's Angels" film is being advertised with a billboard campaign featuring Cameron Diaz on a surfboard.
Hawaiian, Southern Californian, and other island themes are abundant in summer fashions. One of the struggling retail sector's biggest success stories of late has been Abercrombie & Fitch's surf-theme chain, Hollister, which sells lower price surf-style clothing. Pacific Sunwear, with more than 600 stores in 48 states, reported net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2003 up 142% to $8 million, while sales at stores open for more than a year, an important retail indicator, were up 13.1%.
Even the upscale and older-targeted Tommy Bahama, the marketer of Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica labels recently acquired by Oxford Industries, has been making a splash beyond resort retail shops, moving into high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Some high-priced designers have indicated they are considering fashion made from wet-suit style neoprene.
"In general, the surf industry continues to see very strong acceptance and support not only at a core level but at a mass level," said Norb Garrett, VP-group publisher/editorial director of Primedia Action Sports Group.
Research firm Board-Trac puts the number of participants in board-riding sports at 22.3 million, with skateboarding accounting for 13.1 million participants. Board-Trac, however, believes skateboarding has reached a plateau or even slight decline in popularity, while surfing is up about 11% from 2001 to 2002 as Generation X and Y begin to discover the sport.
And that's just in the U.S. Quiksilver and other surfing brands have been making their biggest sales gains in Europe.