By Josh Brooks, TW SKATE
The skate industry is in a state of upheaval. With the United States in the tail end of a recession and much of the world faced with a financial crisis and credit crunch, companies have been forced to tighten their belts and think differently.
It was with this in mind that members of the skateboard industry met last week at Woodward West in Tehachapi, California for the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) 2010 Skateboarding Industry Summit.
Keynote speaker George Powell opened up the summit stressing the importance that IASC unite to keep skateboarding in the hands of businesses owned by people who have always supported skateboarding--a theme that persisted throughout the week.
On day two, various panels discussed a myriad of issues that the skateboard industry is or will need to confront in the coming years: how to expand into global markets such as China, South America and Europe; how to maintain consistency from pro and amateur contests as mainstream as the Dew Tour and X Games and as core as Tampa Pro/Am; how and why athletes go broke; what issues retailers are faced with in today's current economic market; and ways to ethically source product and achieve sustainability while running a business.
In the evening, Tiffany Montgomery, Founder of Shop-Eat-Surf.com, interviewed Fox Head Inc. Board member and former Global President of DC Shoes, Nick Adcock. Mr. Adcock reiterated George Powell's point of view that IASC must bind together. Especially in the realm of footwear, Adcock said, "Make no bones about it, these companies coming in are not your friends." Originally from Australia, Adcock implored companies faced with competition from large footwear corporations to expand their market globally, find unique ways to work with retailers and, for those that are able, find a way to take their skateboard shoe company into the mainstream market.
Day three opened with information on the tools and perspective companies and retailers will need in the digital market. The first two panels discussed the state of video games, digital entertainment and social media, with an emphasis on texting, branding within video games and the affordable gateways to social media--YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The last panel of the day discussed trends within young consumers today, as well as fashion tribes and trends that define their world.
In the end, the three-day summit took the first step toward recognizing the challenges faced by the industry and the ways in which to confront them as individual companies and as an association, using innovative approaches and digital outlets. In the state of the economy today, IASC used the meeting to disseminate tools to close to 100 members present with the hope that skateboarding's future will remain in the hands of companies who have long supported its growth.