World-renowned shaper Al Merrick recently teamed up with one of his former pro surfers, Mike Lambresi, to launch a softgoods and accessory line. Less than a year into the project, Lambresi says the response from retailers has been overwhelming.
Lambresi oversees Hexline, LLC, a company formed by him, Merrick, and several other partners, to handle the Al Merrick/Channel Islands softgoods and accessories license, which includes tank tops, T-shirts, rashguards, backpacks, accessories, and other items people use when they go surfing.
The spring apparel line was first launched in November, and reorders were taken at the Surf Expo show in January. After doing so well with the spring line, Lambresi decided to completely redesign it for summer and show the new line at the Long Beach ASR Trade Expo in February. Again the response was very positive.
With the move into softgoods, Lambresi and Merrick have the ability to expand the Channel Islands business beyond surfboards. The company already has established retailers across the country and is at maximum board production at its Santa Barbara factory. However, with the softgoods business, new retailers can be added to sell the apparel and accessories.
Although the softgoods are being sold through a separate company, the established Channel Islands surfboard reps will handle the apparel line. There’ve been some recent changes in the rep force though. Zog’s Florida rep John Brooks has been picked up to help Tory Strange in that state. Strange is also the owner of Surf Station Surf Shop in St. Augustine.
Pat Murphy, who also handles MCD and Body Glove, has been brought on to rep from Seal Beach to Santa Barbara in Southern California, while Pat Lynch will be covering San Diego. Joe James will now only rep the Orange County area. Louie Hayward has also been hired as the new national sales manager.
“We can build the brand up and make it hot,” says Lambresi. “The key is we have to create a demand at the consumer level. The name’s there. The kids love it.”
To help create demand, the company will be financially supporting amateur surfing and will display banners and give away products at NSSA, USSF, and CSUS contests.
Having six-time world champ Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Dan Malloy, Jon Rose, and other top surfers riding for the company won’t hurt the powerful Channel Islands/Al Merrick name one bit, either.