The crowd was buzzing!
I totally can’t believe I slept on surfing’s most important night, the gilded Surf Industry Manufacturing Association awards. Like, I’m sorry. Can you accept my apology? Will you be able to find it in your heart?
They happened three days ago or maybe even four, it’s hard to see through the tears in my eyes, because that means I kept you unaware that Stab beat sister publication and Venice-adjacent neighbor The Inertia, winning The Consumer Media Feature of the Year. I kept you unaware that Vans’ UltraRange Rapidweld beat Nalukai Kapa Boot by OluKai for the Footwear Product of the Year. I kept you unaware that Billabong’s Recycler Boardshorts beat men’s and women’s Fall ’18 Yulex wetsuits by Patagonia.
I’m having trouble forgiving myself.
Let’s just read the Orange County Register. Let’s turn to an outlet that didn’t royally blow it.
Billabong celebrated a sweeping victory at the awards, signaling a major comeback for the surf brand that has endured a run of ups and downs in the past decade — but is clearly on the upswing with five wins in categories that showcased both men’s and women’s designs.
It wasn’t just a night for the legacy brands, though. Newcomers also made their mark, showing there’s a new wave of innovation in the industry.
But it was Billabong’s five wins that had the crowd buzzing.
Billabong has come a long way since a decade ago, when the brand was losing money and embroiled in a takeover battle. In 2013, the company inked a $360 million deal with C/O Consortium, a group of investors from Centerbridge Partners and Oaktree Capital Management. The goal was to help Billabong address its debt and revive its brand.
In 2016, Billabong announced it was profitable for the first time since 2011. Then in 2018, in a move that shook the surf industry, Billabong, which has its North America headquarters in Irvine, was purchased by Huntington Beach company Boardriders Inc., which owns rival Quiksilver.
There was concern the two brands would overlap, but it was clear at Wednesday’s awards ceremony that Billabong has maintained its own identity, winning honors for Environmental Product of the Year for its Recycler Boardshorts, as well as Boardshort of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year for both its men’s and women’s divisions, and Women’s Apparel Brand of the Year.
BeachGrit will not be nominated for The Consumer Media Aggregated Feature of the Year in 2020 because of me. This was our chance and I wrecked it.