John John walks from his Hurley contract
Two weeks after his stablemates got the axe, John John Florence has walked out of his contract with Hurley.
The unfolding drama began in December when Hurley, who spent sixteen years cosseted to Nike's big-spending bosom, were onsold to Bluestar Alliance. Bluestar generously describe themselves as being in the business of brand management, when predatory speculating is a more apt description of their modus operandi. They buy companies, strip out excess costs, then run them at grossly inflated profits or sell them for similar.
To varying degrees, a similar process has happened over at Billabong and Quiksilver, so it should be to no-one's surprise that Hurley is now feeling the fangs of vampire capitalism.
Cutting the team roster is a simple fix for owners with no ties to surf culture. First to go were those surfers currently in negotiation, such as Michel Bourez and Rob Machado, who'd been with them twenty years, while those whose contracts were soon to expire were told to look elsewhere. In two days the Hurley team went from, what founder Bob Hurley called, "the most exciting, innovative and successful team ever in the history of surfing" to a ghost town.
For John Florence the writing was on the wall, as of 2020 Hurley was the same company in name only, so he's walked out on his contract with five years left to run. Following fourteen years with O'Neill - who signed him when he was six - Hurley first nabbed his signature in 2013, and then renewed it in 2017 for a rumoured eight year, $30 million play - the most lucrative contract in surf history, and only sustainable due to Nike's bulwark.
No-one knows the terms of JJF's exit, nor if he's being courted by other companies, but it's clear that if he signs with a surf company it'll be at a vastly reduced rate.
Also, with each of the former Big 3 in non-surf hands and Hurley on its knees, the surf industries' reckoning is almost complete.
PS: Might be time to reprise this article from last year - The Only Essential Apparel