COMMERCE, Calif — Hot Tuna USA, LLC, has acquired the master license and will re-launch the legendary Australian surf brand Hot Tuna in North America for Spring 2005. The new product line will include men’s and junior’s apparel, shoes and accessories and will debut at the Action Sport Retailer (ASR) tradeshow in San Diego, Calif., September 10-12, 2004 and Surf Expo in Orlando, Fla., September 17-19, 2004. Hot Tuna USA acquired the license in May 2004 and will retain the license for 20 years distributing the line throughout the U.S., Mexico and their associated territories. The brand is currently active in Australia and the United Kingdom, and will be licensed and re-launched globally in other countries including Europe, Japan, South Africa and Asia in the first quarter of 2005.
Hot Tuna, the iconic surf brand originally established in Australia in 1969, has been one of the most recognizable surf brands worldwide for 35 years. The famous Hot Tuna piranha logo has appeared on T-shirts, surfboards and has even been tattooed on body parts on all corners of the globe. Hot Tuna will draw from its history by retaining the same raw and creative designs and edgy surf attitude that the company became known for in the late ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s. Reaching back to its roots, Hot Tuna USA will focus significant attention on core surf items but take on more of a collection approach to its offering.
Targeting men and women ages 16 to 26, the line will push forward beyond the original Hot Tuna collection by offering more fashion-forward items that transcend from beach to night. The collection will be available at core surf shops, select retail stores and boutiques beginning with Spring ’05 which will hit retail in late-January/early-February 2005. Retail price points will range from the low $20.00 range for T-shirts to upwards of $100.00 for denim and outerwear.
Keeping true to its surfing roots, Hot Tuna USA will support and sponsor both professional and up-and-coming amateur surfers. Hot Tuna USA will search the country for the hottest and most charismatic characters to be the face of its brand. By early 2005, the company expects to have surf teams established on the East and West coasts and Hawaii.
This August, Hot Tuna USA will kick off a national print advertising campaign in Happy, Free Surf and Eastern Surf magazines. The company plans to expand its advertising to Surfer, Surfing and SG magazines and other lifestyle publications as well as outdoor. Continuing Hot Tuna’s legacy as the first surf label to use professional models, fashion photographers and stylists in its advertising — resulting in some of the most memorable ads of the time — the company will further push the boundaries with an amalgamation of big wave images and sexual innuendo.
The Brains Behind Hot Tuna USAEntrepreneur David Rosenberg, the man behind Hot Tuna USA, has a vast history of successful ventures. No stranger to the apparel industry, Rosenberg is a third generation garment manufacturer that has been around the fashion industry his whole life. His family owns one of the largest privately held women’s clothing corporations in the U.S. under the City Triangle, Connected and Hot Tempered banners. Rosenberg will utilize his family’s experience, resources and infrastructure to ensure a successful launch for Hot Tuna USA. Manufacturing for the brand will be done both domestically and overseas and distribution will initially be housed out of the Rosenberg’s 200,000-square-foot facility in Commerce, Calif.
Prior to signing the Hot Tuna deal, extensive market research was conducted with retailers and the Hot Tuna target market (teens and young adults) to get a read on the existing brand perception. It was discovered that retailers still remember the brand and its history. The discovery from the older teen market was a bit more surprising — a significant number recognized the Hot Tuna name and even more recognized thee infamous piranha logo. When queried further, it was learned that teens remembered Hot Tuna from their older siblings and from surf videos, photographs and advertisements.
“I’ve had many chances to get involved in the apparel industry, but it was never right, said Rosenberg. “When presented with the Hot Tuna opportunity, I felt it was the perfect fit. Having lived in Australia for the past seven years, I have an intimate view of the Hot Tuna legacy. My wife and I are Hot Tuna customers and it is our all-time favorite surf brand. I’m excited to utilize my promotional and marketing experience from 20 years of owning and promoting night clubs, restaurants and outdoor events as well as my understanding of the garment industry to successfully re-launch Hot Tuna in the U.S.
Hot Tuna’s executive team will consist of a blend of seasoned creatives, marketers, merchandisers, surfers and industry pros. Creative Director Alan Newberg, a worldly surfer and fashion photographer born and bred in Huntington Beach, Calif., has been brought in to mirror the irreverent creative style and energy of the company’s original founder. Newberg has been the creative force behind several street and surf brands, and brings a solid understanding of the surf attitude, culture and market to the Hot Tuna team.
Historical Perspective on Hot TunaHot Tuna was originally founded in Australia, in 1969, by Richard Meldrum. The brand was one of the market leaders and trendsetters in both the U.S. and Australia, and one of the few surf brands with global recognition. The brand experienced major surf industry success throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s including success with its women’s clothing line long before the rest of the surf industry had discovered the women’s market. Meldrum sold his interest in the company in 2002 for a sum rumored to be in excess of $6 million. The current worldwide licensor of the brand, Melbourne-based FIH Pty. Ltd., is headed by Rod Williams. Williams, a well-respected 20-year veteran of the action sports industry, has been the International Senior Vice President for Timberland and most recently was the International Sales Manager for Rip Curl.