For the past couple of seasons retailers have been begging surf-apparel manufacturers for something new, something art-driven. Billabong says it has the answer: custom boardshorts.
In just over a month Billabong’s custom trunks program, dubbed Tag A Trunk, will hit surf shops nationwide. For 40 dollars (retail), kids get a pair of white, ready-to-paint Billabong trunks, a packet of stencils in the form of flowers, corporate fonts and logos, girls, eagles, skulls, and stars, and an instruction sheet with guidelines such as, “Get to work on these things with some enamel paint, paint markers permanent markers, house paint, or whatever else you can get your hands on” and “Always paint in a well ventilated area. We’re serious about this one — you don’t want to kill any more brain cells.”
As Billabong puts it, the idea is to “take art into your own hands and create your custom boardshorts. This is not rocket science — all you need is some paint and a little creativity.”
“Surfers will be able to express their own personalities through the shorts,” says Billabong Design Director Rob McCarty.
The Tag A Trunk program will be backed at retail through P.O.P. and magazine advertisements. Additionally, Billabong is holding a contest for kids to send in their best trunks design. The grand prize winner will get VIP treatment at the Trestles WCT this fall. The second place entrant will win an Andy Irons surfboard.
Sounds good, but will kids (and, more importantly, moms) be willing to cough up 40 bucks (plus the cost of paints, permanent markers, etc.) for a pair of trunks they’re just going to draw all over? Yes, says Steve Wilson, Billabong VP of merchandising and design.
“I think kids are going to be stoked to go, ‘Are you kidding me? I’d like to do that to my trunks,'” says Wilson. “Everybody has that creative thing inside them.”
Billabong’s Tag A Trunk program also represents the company’s move from computer-driven logos and designs to freehand artwork. “Our art that we’re doing on T-shirts and our prints is all hand done,” says McCarty. “It’s not computer generated.”
Billabong isn’t looking to make a fortune off the Tag A Trunk program — it’s more of a marketing vehicle. The point is to have fun, says the company.
“You may be asking yourself, ‘What does graffiti have to do with surfing?’ reads the instruction sheet. “We are not sure. But at the end of the day, painting your own trunks is a lot of fun.”