But just right now! Bright days maybe ahead!
Do you remember being a youth and needing surf accoutrement? I do.
I remember walking into a surf shop, smelling the wax, seeing the pink Astrodeck, the Mountain and the Wave, the fluoro Shark watches, the checkered Vans, the Op shorts, the Gotcha Fishman and thinking they were the only thing that mattered in life besides actually surfing.
The product, the image, was, in my juvenile mind, synonymous with the activity.
Oh how I wanted it all! My parents could afford very little/nothing so I was left mostly on the outside looking in/with Wahlboard t-shirts from Pismo Beach but still. I dreamed.
And I wonder about kids today. They don’t lust for product, do they. They don’t walk in to surf shops with eyes wider than Matt Biolos’s pant legs. They don’t need anything to belong. There are no more signifiers and thus the industry has been in a decade long death throe.
Whose fault is it?
Maybe the Australian Surf Industry Awards!
I read this morning about them on the industry blog Shop-Eat-Surf. Let’s tuck in!
The Australian Surf and Boardsports Association held its annual awards in Sydney on Thursday May 26, celebrating the high achievers of the Australia’s multi-million dollar surf industry. Held at the Crowne Plaza in Coogee, the night attracted over 200 retailers and brand representatives from all over Australia.
Both retailers and brands were recognised with 30 awards presented across a number of retail, product and marketing categories.
On the brand side, relative newcomer Vissla has announced its arrival as a significant player when it was awarded the Breakthrough Brand of the year. Rip Curl’s attention to technical details was well rewarded when it took out product of the year in the boardshort, wetsuit and surf accessories categories. The Otis Youngblood won sunglass of the year while Reef was the number one footwear brand.
It was also a big night for Billabong, taking out swimwear brand of the year and the men’s and women’s brand of the year. To cap things off Billabong also won the men’s and women’s marketing campaigns of the year.
It was another big night and SBIA president Anthony Wilson was delighted with its success:
“It’s nights like tonight that really sets our industry apart, it really did have it all,” “Wilson said.
And what the goddamn hell?
There are too many wrong things happening here to fully digest but the Crowne Plaza in Coogee?
Attracted “200” people?
Billabong swimwear “brand” of the year and marketing “campaign” of the year?
Arbitrary award shows are, in and of themselves, embarrassing. This embarrassing one launched in 2011, smack in the middle of complete and utter surf market meltdown. In the five years since things have gotten steadily worse.
Not that we shouldn’t fiddle while Rome burns (welcome to BeachGrit!) but celebrating and awarding our mediocrity/squandering of an entire movement/at the Coogee Grand Plaza just seems….lame. And if I was a kid today I would want nothing to do with any of it.
How can we fix?
I think Michael Tomson was very right when he proclaimed size is the enemy of cool and there are many interesting smaller brands popping up all over. Like Rolling Death Maui or OurCaste or Insted We Smile or Saint Laurent’s Surf Sound collection. Brands run by people who have a finger on the pulse, who still care. A trimmed Quiksilver is better than it has been for years and Lost, pulled from the teeth of a management group, has snap again. Etc.
Is the future bright? Who knows! Tune in this time next year for the first annual BeachGrit Awards live from the Santa Ana Holiday Inn to find out but in the meantime, fuck the other bastards.