ASR Show Report

ASR again proves key when predicting surf, skate, snow and youth culture’s future as thousands of buyers finish viewing new lines at ASR September 5-7th in San Diego. Over 200,000 sq ft, packing 700 action sports and youth style labels under one roof offer thousands of retailers a 3 day opportunity to shop for all segments in this crucial spring buying season. While the offerings are diverse with everything from surfboards to skate wheels and bikinis to footwear being shown from established brands like Quiksilver and emerging ones like Megami Boogie, there is one theme that is consistent, it’s all about innovation.

“While the actions sports and youth culture industry is always re-inventing itself for consumers who demand originality, ASR continues to be the platform where new trends are introduced,” says ASR Show Director, Kevin Flanagan.

Innovation, fresh styles and concepts were the buzz both in newer labels and from established brands’ new lines. Jake Schwaner of Hobie says he asks his buyers to keep their eyes out for companies and lines that answer, “Where’s the innovation? What’s new, hot?” as they walk the show floor. “Everybody was working, usually the first day is social, but this year it was spent making appointments with newer brands like Rvca and Monument,” says Roy Turner from Surf City in Wilmington, NC. “We need to find the new guys first and then check in with the big guys the next two days.”

Emerging brands took advantage of ASR to introduce labels to buyers from around the world. “It {ASR} was amazing,” says August Benzien, Creative Manager for Dekline a new skate based apparel and footwear brand. “We had lots of traffic and in launching a new brand it is all about having a lot of the right people see the whole concept then letting the idea sink in.” Dave Matt, founder of Monument, a new boutique style surf apparel line, exclaimed this about his brand’s ASR launch, “I haven’t been able to pee, there are too may shops and at the end of the day, just not enough time. It has been an encouraging experience.” Resonating in booths, aisles and between groups of retailers was the sentiment that business was good over the summer and writing orders was at the top of their ASR list. “ASR is more important to my buyers this year. They are very busy, not only because surf is hot, but we are also coming off our best summer ever,” says Mikke Pierson owner of ZJ Boarding House in Santa Monica, CA. Eddie Taylor who came from Tulsa, Oklahoma with a crew of buyers to shop for The Mark It Store says, “We came in without a schedule and still wrote 35-40 orders. I place big orders and sign on with new brands at ASR exclusively, we are too busy to spend all our time on the phone.”

At the end of Day 3, the enthusiasm was palpable. Tony Casella, Sales Manager at Sanuk finished up the last day smiling, “It was a blast from the past – hype, energy, rush like in the 80’s – the surf business is bigger and better then ever. A positive outlook from every buyer, Puerto Rico to Hawaii, an all around perfect show.” Bobby Abdelfattah at Jack’s Surf Shop joined Tony with additional enthusiasm, “One of the best shows I have seen, I wrote paper at every booth I work with.”

“It seems more tame this year, still very fun, but definitely more business oriented than ever before,” says retailer Jake Halsworth owner of Exit Real World in Portland, Oregon. This year’s additions of multiple fashion shows, a packed mini ramp, the Transworld Snowboarding Rider’s Poll Awards, 411 video theatre, a bigger Fender Stage and Skatepardy game show have raised the bar for entertainment and events that celebrate the industry and talent in it.

Hundreds gathered around the runway to check in with the future of swim at Girlstyle: A Swimwear Preview by SG: snow, skate, surf girl Magazine, Rusty and ASR. Across the room, top pros and aspiring amateurs lined up shoulder to shoulder waiting for a turn to drop into the first ever mini ramp at ASR, while the Fender concert stage provided the music background for skate demos throughout the day.

Art and creativity naturally accompany sport and style in action sports and was evident both in the styling of new lines and in the booths themselves. The inspired side of the industry was also on display in the 3 Prt Mix’s art auction, the Split booth’s original decorations and at Reef and Vans where artists designed custom shoes.

In addition to the upcoming September 5-7th show in San Diego, ASR is now hosting a show in Huntington Beach for the fall and back to school season and ASR Europe in Anglet, France. Be sure to catch ASR in San Diego, now twice a year with new dates for January, the 17-19th, 2004.