The little teenage millionaire and that insinuating smile and those winking eyes! From 2009.
Target is a department store chain providing a wide variety of goods to the consumer. Everything from milk to clothing to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for $9.99. Due its tremendous size (over 1200 stores in the United States) and buying power (over 64 billion in revenue) Target can offer exceptionally low prices on their complete range of products.
Size and buying power on that scale strike fear into the heart of the surf industry. Billabong, for example, has revenue of one billion. Australian dollars.
The surf industry, as a whole, has been successful in keeping non-endemic companies, like Target, out by trumpeting the idea of core as well as organizing successful marketing campaigns and making a desirable product. If, however, a non-endemic company, like Target, was accepted by even a plurality of surfers the ground would quake. Target could sell boardshorts for less than half of what Billabong or Quiksilver could. If those boardshorts were not seen as kookish because, say, a handsome young man named Kolohe Andino sports the Target bullseye logo on his board, it could cause a flood.
With the idea of core no longer essential, other non-endemics could get into the surfwear game. Like Adidas (11 billion in revenue) and Nike (proper. Not 6.0. 18 billion in revenue). Shadowed by giants, the surf majors would face their biggest challenge in history.
Target just signed Kolohe Andino to a deal. He used to ride for Billabong. Graham Stapleberg, VP of marketing, North America, for Billabong says, “It was a good four year relationship that Billabong had with Kolohe, and we certainly helped elevate his profile on the international stage. He definitely has talent and we wish him all the best in his future. I don’t see the fit with Target at all; it is generic mainstream retail where surfing doesn’t belong.” Long live the core!
I meet Kolohe Andino at Irons in the Fire, clubhouse for the famed San Clemente municipal golf course. It is a mission revival-style bar/grill catering to upper middle class whites. The San Clemente high school golf team lingers on a practice putting green next to the front door, waiting for their coach. They wear red polo shirts and khaki pants. They are upper middle class whites. People who work at Target also wear red polo shirts and khaki pants but are never upper middle class whites.
Kolohe is at an outdoor table, fresh off a plane from New Zealand but fresher from a surf at T-Street. His hair a sun bleached halo. He sips a Rob Roy and checks a new BlackBerry.
C: Are you tired?
K: Ahhh, I get used to the travel. It’s still fun, you know. But it feels good to be back home. I was with my dad on the road so that is cool too.
C: Are home for a while?
K: Tomorrow morning Nike is flying me up to Portland for some discussions. I want to design some sick shit. Then I am out to Australia again.
C: You have a whole new slate of sponsors, Young Money. Tell me about Target. You are causing earthquakes with that one.
K: What do you mean?
C: I hear you are the next Shaun White. That Target is going to create a whole line of business around the Kolohe Andino brand. The floodgates have opened. Non-endemics! Surf companies are running scared.
He glances at his BlackBerry, takes off his sunglasses (black aviators), rubs the bridge of his nose and studies me.
K: Target is a great company. You know, they are providing great support, but look at where the sticker is.
One of his gorgeous Mayhem rockets is resting against his chair. I look. A red and white bullseye maybe three inches in diameter is back near the tailpatch. Saltwater drips reflect the early afternoon light and I put on my sunglasses (tortoiseshell aviators).
C: So what are you saying? The rumors aren’t true?
K: Look, Shaun White is a legend. He is an Olympic gold medalist and the absolute top of his sport. He is sick. And I haven’t really done anything yet. I would love to get to that point some day, but it all depends how my career goes. I guess.
He says the “I guess” without a care in the world. His voice so flat. So confident. He sounds like George Clooney saying, “It all depends on how the night goes. I guess” when asked if he will end up with a beautiful woman. Pre-ordained.
K: Right now Target is super great. They are sending me on boat trips with friends. They are helping me do whatever I want to do. They are very open and not aggressive at all. Not pushing their own, like, thing. It’s great and we will see where it all goes.
C: Will shoppers be greeted with giant posters of you doing hot aerials when making their purchases? How will Target use your image?
K: No, no, no… they won’t do that. I am not a big enough name. I’ve got the stickers on my board. And that is it, for now.
C: How did the romance start? You and Target?
K: My manager, Mark Erwin, is also Shaun’s manager so he just works it all out. He’s a great guy. And that is basically that. There is no conspiracy. No big deal.
He glances, again, at his Blackberry and we both get up to leave.
Kolohe Andino doesn’t golf. He is 15 years old. The day after tomorrow he is renting a limo and taking the hottest seventeen year old girl in San Clemente, Maddy Forrester, to the winter formal. He would have rented a sports car but doesn’t have his license yet. We talk about tuxes on the way out and he asks me if he should pair it with Converse. I say no, only patent leather Ferragamos. He nods. The golf team coach has arrived and is giving a motivational talk. None of the red polo’d student athletes are paying attention. They are staring at Kolohe. He is wearing all black.