Extending the Vending

Stu Nettle
Surfpolitik

Stuart Nettle July 8, 2010

Take a good look at the photo to the right. Click enlarge to ease your peepers. See anything unusual in that ad for Quiksilver?

No?

Check the backpack on the ground - Rip Curl. Since when do companies give advertising space to their competitors? The answer in short is: when they're not competitors.

Time was when Quiksilver and Rip Curl weren't in competition and each made separate products. Quiksilver, who's founder, Alan Green, chanted the mantra 'boardshorts, boardshorts, boardshorts', only dealt in duds and Rip Curl only made wetsuits...and the odd backpack obviously.

Then, in 1989, Quiksilver signed up Tom Carroll to a top-dollar deal based on exclusivity. Carroll's boards would sport the Quik logo only and, along with the obligatory boardshorts, Quiksilver would make all the other products Carroll would need, like wetsuits, clothes, sunglasses and backpacks.

Surf companies had learnt to diversify.

By making new products they'd scoop more of the market and increase their profits. So, led by the Big Three, surf companies came to be one-stop-shops for everything a surfer needs - wetsuits, clothes, accessories - and all the products bore the logos. Alan Green's singular mantra on boardshorts came to seem very quaint; Quiksilver, like the other two, was a surf company and couldn't be categorised by a single product.

Sometime in the 90's, I don't really know when, the surf industry was no longer enough. Reaching market saturation they expanded beyond the bounds of surfing to incorporate snow, skate and street, anything at all to do with young fashion really. And it's still not enough. A quick check of the catalogues sees Rip Curl, Billabong and Quiksilver logos pop up in the unlikeliest of places.

Rip Curl and Billabong have both badged cars. Billabong have made mobile phones in the past and have just joined with Sony to make a new laptop that matches their coming boardshort range. While Quiksilver have the most eclectic spread manufacturing bedspreads and tuxedos and perfume.

And new markets and opportunities are still being sought. Quiksilver today announced, what I believe, is their most exciting venture yet - boardshorts in vending machines! Yep, they're heading back to familiar territory and mixing it with a mad Japanese method of clothing purchase. Underwear in a vending machine? Boardshorts too.

The finance people could explain all of this, and it'd be worth listening too. 'A company has to grow to survive', they'd say, 'if they stagnate they die'. And so we end up with branded perfume and boardies in a vending machine.

Except it won't be where it ends.

Don't ask me where it's all heading, you won't find any answers here. Because I'm as amazed as anyone to see where it's at now, and I bet ol' Alan Green is too. However, I will admit to being kinda curious about what products the companies have in their sights - airplanes? whitegoods? sex toys? - and how they plan to distribute them. Who the hell knows?

Comments

kbomb's picture
kbomb's picture
kbomb commented Thursday, 8 Jul 2010 at 11:34pm

In the past I didn’t mind paying a good price for a T-shirt or pair of shorts from one of the “big three”. But these days it seems that the more these companies diversify, the more product quality they lose. These days I try to stay well clear of their products because I have been disappointed in the quality compared to how it used to be. Walking into one of the “big threes” “surf shops” is these days like going to an overpriced 2nd rate K-mart. These places are no longer surf shops, they are poor quality fashion shops with a couple of boards in the windows for looks. But hey, if you like walking around being a billboard for them and are happy with the quality then go for it.

195

kingofgc's picture
kingofgc's picture
kingofgc commented Friday, 9 Jul 2010 at 2:28am

yep me too. They're only focused on profit margins and expanding the business. The quality of all the products is absolutely crap. Every year the get worse too. Boardies that make your balls red raw, wetsuits
with super freaky bullshit descriptions such as "hyperfreak", "elasto technology", "core cell", "ultimate flex" its all BULLSHIT, how many fucking names can they make up for us to buy this overpriced NEOPRENE RUBBER ! I'm looking for products that last, products that function and products that help my surfing.
The big 4 SUCK BIGTIME.

kingofgc's picture
kingofgc's picture
kingofgc commented Friday, 9 Jul 2010 at 2:32am

ps - $100 - 140 Australian dollars for a pair of boardshorts !
pps - GO AND GET FUCKED !

stick's picture
stick's picture
stick commented Friday, 9 Jul 2010 at 3:15am

The big 4 lost me when they have Made in China tag. Not worth the money.
Regarding Wetsuits. They are costing as much as Boards and not lasting much past a couple seasons. A little more giving back to the customer instead of the share holder.

the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2 commented Friday, 9 Jul 2010 at 3:38am

Who in Australia is gonna work for the same rate that those crew in south-east Asia are gonna work? 'Made in Australia' has gone thew way of Dick Smith's Vegemite. It's a global world, get real.

trotsky-s-icepick's picture
trotsky-s-icepick's picture
trotsky-s-icepick commented Friday, 9 Jul 2010 at 3:43am

Are we still pointing out the flaws of the capitalist system? Was my death in vain?

maks-zorin's picture
maks-zorin's picture
maks-zorin commented Friday, 9 Jul 2010 at 6:29pm

something terrible might happen to the economy,
like downsizing private jets and yachts or...
or even worse,
like these two hairy dudes
http://surf.transworld.net/files/2009/08/10/img_0613.jpg
will start looking for job instead of living rock stars life.
and all that because few tightarses refuse to pay 100 bucks for a nice pair of boardshorts.

brianp's picture
brianp's picture
brianp commented Sunday, 11 Jul 2010 at 1:37am

I never wear any surf apparel, can't stand it... I don't mean to be a snob or whatever, but when I see that the brand is being peddled in huge shopping centres and being worn by bucketloads of non-surfers.. the appeal of it being a 'surf' brand wears thin.. It's not the mass production, or the quality of the gear, but the way it's falsely marketed...A quiksilver T-shirt to me is no longer assosciated with the beach and surfing.. but rather with the key money demographic of young, teenage not necessarily-surfers...

hungry-hank's picture
hungry-hank's picture
hungry-hank commented Sunday, 11 Jul 2010 at 10:38am

Shit! That's settled it then.

Tomorrow I'm gunna burn my 3 Rip Curl steamers, 2 pairs of Quicky boardshorts and any surf brand T Shirt I can find in my chest of drawers.

Next surf I'm gunna coat myself in fish and chip fat and paddle out at a local reef down here in Western Vicco and prove I'm as hard core and anti establishment as you blokes.

Sorry for being such a 'brand slut'! I've just come to my senses after 30 years of wasting my money on that overpriced, underperforming poop...........Being warm in the surf is over rated anyhow.

stuz's picture
stuz's picture
stuz commented Monday, 12 Jul 2010 at 11:43am

Big W has some nice piping hot clothing items.

Stu

fergus-mcdingo's picture
fergus-mcdingo's picture
fergus-mcdingo commented Sunday, 25 Jul 2010 at 9:34pm

Maybe the big three low life corporate greasers will now find it more profitable to make something other than the crappy shit they try to offload on us and just FUCK OFF and leave surfing alone.

Fergus McDingo

gaptron's picture
gaptron's picture
gaptron commented Sunday, 8 Aug 2010 at 6:56am

Many good comments, quality is shit but not because its made in china espesially the wetsuits... they just make the stuff how you specify it.. e.g. if you specify cheap materials thats what they use! dont know if anyone has seen any of the japanese surfers paddeling past them in their wetsuits but their wetsuits are way better they use completly different mateiral!

I too hate being a billbord for overpriced crap however i do like to support more indipendent guys like rythm, i think there is some alternative wetsuits coming into australia soon too! monster wetsuits will be coming to australia in 2011 with jap rubber yeeeaw

cold-water's picture
cold-water's picture
cold-water commented Tuesday, 10 Aug 2010 at 3:34am

i agree totally with hungry hank, all you blokes bad mouthing the biog brands must be from a warmer climate, because if your wetsuit isnt quicky, ripcurl or peak, i can garuntee its shit or not as good as those three, iv been trying to find a decent cheap wetty for years but down in vicco if you want to be warm youv got to cough up the big bucks

my-6-4's picture
my-6-4's picture
my-6-4 commented Wednesday, 18 Aug 2010 at 10:13pm

Not realy sure what the point of this all is. What does it matter what you put on after a surf or to the pub, you dont need to show everyone you surf. These companies were about marketing a while ago and were always heading this way. As for prices i picked up a new last season billong wetty for bout $200. I also play guitar and jam regularly but dont get tatts or wear tight black jeans. My feeling is if you like something and the price is right for you get it regardless of a name.

rialto-fresh's picture
rialto-fresh's picture
rialto-fresh commented Sunday, 7 Nov 2010 at 1:08am

I bought my surfboard "custom made" from trigger brothers,St Kilda. The staff we're helpful and the price very reasonable. I felt as though I was genuinely being looked after. Prior to buying the board I spent endless hours researching on the internet and somehow I was always directed to the website catalogue of the big brands like rip curl. With it all layed out in front of you - off the shelf - buy it now mail ordered right to your door! Now if you are passionate about surfing do you really wanna buy a board straight off the net, I mean a bit of real human interaction can be very reassuring. Anyway thats just my take on it. My wetsuit was also purchased from trigger brothers for 170 bucks! Its the comfiest 4'3 i've ever worn! My old suit is rip curl and its wearing fast... As far as apparel goes i do have some brandname boardies! But I don't think of them as a fashion statement. If you wanna be truly fashionable - we'll I'd say steer clear of big brands and make you own look! After a surf I usually jump into my brandless byron made hippie pants and bondsy!

Guvnr