Third time a charm for the titan of sportswear? I will answer now. No.
Two winters ago Nike sat their stable down in a North Shore home and said to each and every surf tanned face, “Go to Hurley.” Kolohe Andino looked through the window, morose. Julian Wilson stormed out of the room. And the surf world was semi-officially rid of Beaverton, Oregon.
The footwear giant first came in with a whimper called 6.0, maybe the most misbegotten idea of all time, then with a bang called Nike Surf. I embraced wholeheartedly and welcomed this second rendition. I felt their dollars would spur growth in a stagnant industry. I felt their being outside the traditional structure would help shake the evil conservatism that has rotted surf’s core. I felt that they would make a tech product that might be sexy.
Boy, was I wrong. They made one trunk and it was multi-colored yuck. And then they vanished before they could do anything of note. One measly year they lasted before disappearing in an ugly, nonsensical North Shore implosion. They added nothing. They did stupid things. They were gone before Billabong’s Graham Stapleberg (now of the ASP) could exclaim, “Hot damn! Nike’s 27 billion dollars in product sales is coming into surf? How will we compete?” while busily dreaming up horrible slogans.
Although it was disappointing to see Nike go so quietly and weirdly and pointlessly, I was happy because the company showed its true stripes (in multi-colored yuck) and who wants that? Who wants shit surf product heaped upon shit surf product (here’s looking at you Rip Curl)? The very last thing surf needs is more of that same.
But guess what? The coconut wireless is burning with rumor. Nike is returning for a third try, the whispers say. There is a plan, apparently, to take John John, who was signed by Hurley post-implosion, and Carissa Moore, hit the eject button on the rest of Bob’s crew and steal market share based on the most dynamic male surfer this side of Neco Padaratz. Part of John John’s deal was that he had to jettison Vans, which opens those feets up nicely. Nike would then be positioned holding only the Michael Jordans of surf and none of the excess baggage (also known as Michel Bourez and Alejo Muniz).
Again, it is only a rumor but my sources are good. And it was once only a rumor that Kelly Slater had thinning hair. A small, wounded part of me is happy to see Nike back because it will be very fun to see them fail miserably once again. It takes a lot more than 27 billion dollars to wow the cool kids. It takes a faux French name (just kidding D’Blanc). Really, it takes even the smallest measure of heart. Nike has none. And remember, when John John dons the Swoosh next year, you heard it here first. And Billabong’s Graham Stapleberg (now of the ASP) would like you to remember that, “Life’s better in boardshorts.”