Top Product Picks from Surf Expo September 2016

SurfExpo-Sept16_Mantle

Top Product Picks from Surf Expo September 2016

By Kailee Bradstreet & Hayley Helms

Surf Expo wrapped up this Saturday in Orlando, Florida. We were on the floor checking out what’s new, as well as learning brands’ varying strategies and approaches to the evolving retail landscape.

At the macro level, brands seem to be re-evaluating every facet of their business—from distribution, to product manufacturing efficiency. Quality over quantity is ruling the day across the board, as lines tighten up and reflect the brands’ underlying purpose.

Tech innovations  also lead the charge—in today’s crowded landscape, brands have realized that doing something new and different, that also meets the increasingly high expectations of consumers, is one of the only ways to gain market share.

Among some of the standouts we noted, Surftech was showing sister company NSP’s Coco Mat construction that draws on coconut mulch to make boards shockingly light. You have to pick up one of these boards to fully wrap your head around how much lighter a Standup Paddle board or even standard longboard can actually be. On the performance board side, the company is also bringing back its original technology, TufLite Pro Carbon (or TLPC) across the line. According to Surftech’s Dan Watts, the return to the tech was something retailers and consumers were asking for and it was a no-brainer for the company and its partners like Channel Islands. “Anytime you can make a board stronger, make it last longer, and also make it lighter at the same time, that’s a win,” says Surftech’s Watts.

On the apparel side, Rusty was showing an impressive look at next season’s collection, which harkens back to its roots in 1985. The collection, called “Before Crowds,” has bright neon pops reminiscent of the ’80s and ’90s, which we saw across the board at many brands like Body Glove, as they get back to their heritage and what initially set them apart in the apparel market. Most noteworthy was the re-introduction of Rusty women’s in North America for the first time in years. Formerly, the brand was distributed in North America through a license agreement, but the original crew at Rusty pulled the business back in house to its global headquarters in Perth, Australia, allowing them to streamline the business across continents—a smart strategy when it comes to efficiency at the business level.

A brand that’s emerging in our space, and one that we’ve seen pop up on many surf retailers’ radar as a best seller, is Yeti. Although they started in the fishing / hunting market about ten years ago, Yeti has made a strong push into the surf industry and had a busy presence at the show. We were impressed with the simplicity and versatility of the new Hopper Flip cooler, which fits a 12 pack comfortably, or as Yeti likes to put it, “Carries the day.” The cooler features a wide mouth—the first of its size and structure for the brand—and a dry shell. According to Retail Marketing Coordinator Taylor Keith, “it’s great when we hear from people  that our product kept their drinks cool for over a week,” during their adventures. As our industry sees the lines blur more than ever with the outdoor space, Yeti seems poised to grab some of that market share.

In swimwear, a strong showing from heritage brands like Roxy, Rip Curl, and Billabong represented a continued shift to the quality over quantity story, as well as nods to carrying over color pallet and pattern stories from swim to the rest of the apparel collection. Emerging swim brand Isla James, out of Rhode Island, had great positioning near the show’s “The Neighborhood” zone, and was getting noticed by retailers (and even some brands) in attendance.

The following are our edit team’s top product picks and highlights from the September 2016 show floor.

surf expo september 2016

Rusty was showcasing The Heckler, a fish shape great for Florida small waves.

surf expo september 2016

The board features new Torsion Spring technology, a waterproof foam that’s lighter than traditional poly-foam, according to Rusty’s Clint Preisendorfer.

Corkcicle impressed us with their soon-to-launch WATERMAN series—a performance ready line that includes new color ways and textures. The series' first Unleashed Ambassador is surfer Cory Lopez.

Corkcicle impressed us with their soon-to-launch WATERMAN series—a performance ready line that includes new color ways and textures. The series' first Unleashed Ambassador is surfer Cory Lopez.

surf expo september 2016

Smith’s new Salty Crew collaboration is just hitting retail.

 

surf expo september 2016

These combo frames are something new Smith is offering. A mixture between metal and traditional materials, the combo look comes in four new shapes. Seen here, The Bridgetown, retailing at $160 (a new, slightly lower pricepoint for the brand) that also features Chromapop tech.

surf expo september 2016

Otis is launching four new pieces for their holiday collection, including two new colorways, Smoke and Black.

surf expo september 2016

The mineral glass from Otis continues to be a strong seller, especially the colorway seen here.

surf expo september 2016

Von Zipper offered a streamlined display this time around at Surf Expo. The line was carefully curated, showcasing a pared-down look that focused on the frame-less look.

surf expo september 2016

VonZipper’s ALT line features four frame-less styles, merging the everyday with high fashion.

surf expo september 2016

The Jetty Life vibe was strong at the booth. The brand has created a line of Peruvian cotton premium knits new for Fall 17, as well as introducing a new cotton everyday lounge short.

surf expo september 2016

It’s all in the details at Jetty.

surf expo september 2016

Jetty boardshorts have been restructured into more comprehensible categories for retailers—something that Partner and Sales Director Corey Higgins says has been well received by East Coast buyers.

surf expo september 2016

We were impressed by Roark’s line, particularly the emphasis on batiking, where products are hand-dyed.

surf expo september 2016

Using a stamped-wax process, batiking can create more intricate patterns, showcased by Roark in their new tee.

surf expo september 2016

For this Surf Expo, Richer Poorer highlighted their Point Studio line, which integrated technical performance details into women’s socks, providing support for activities like barre, yoga, and pilates.

surf expo september 2016

Richer Poorer continued to highlight their women’s line, such as roll-up styles and a more focused concentration on fashion-focused styles.

surf expo september 2016

The Inner Wear line, where Richer Poorer expands their product offering and focuses on our favorite basics, continues to excel with retailers across the country. The Inner Wear line features t-shirts, muscle tanks, and for the men, boxer briefs that feature 100% organic cotton.

surf expo september 2016

Dakine’s Party Collection, which includes a cooler-backpack, a stand-alone cooler, and the Party Bucket, continued to be a major focus for the brand.

surf expo september 2016

Yeti was getting a strong reaction to its new Hopper Flip, the first of its kind in size and structure. With a full wide mouth and dry shell, this cooler fits a twelve pack, or as the Yeti crew puts it, “carries the day.”

surf expo september 2016

Pro-Tec is putting an increased emphasis on its youth category, and ways the brand can branch out into water sports like rafting and kayaking, according to Global Brand Director R.P. Bess. Seen here is a new 46 cm helmet—the smallest size the brand has ever offered— equipped with Pro-Tec’s signature fit system and magnetic closure.

surf expo september 2016

One of the most eye-opening tech innovations of the show was over at Surftech with sister company NSP’s Coco Mat construction—made with an EPS foam core layered with coconut mulch, or “coco coir” (that husk-like substance you see as the top layer of the board.) The result is a shockingly light board for its size.

surf expo september 2016

A new shape and color for NSP’s Coco Mat boards this season.

surf expo september 2016

Surftech has brought back the the Tough Lite Pro Carbon, or TLPC, tech, which makes the boards lighter and more durable. Seen here, the TLPC applied to one of Channel Islands’ best selling boards, The High Five, $760.

surf expo september 2016

Surftech is also in the process of changing up construction and introducing a whole new line up of boards for January 2017.

surf expo september 2016

DC was showcasing their Baker collaboration at the show, which features footwear and apparel components.

surf expo september 2016

As part of the relaunch of their surf team, DC highlighted the Bruce Irons pro model sandal, which features Impact-I technology. The technology integration is new for their sandal category.

surf expo september 2016

Rip Curl has relaunched footwear in North America, focusing on technical aspects like injected rubber soles. Seen here is the women’s Fiesta sandal, which will include 15 colorways and technical details.

surf expo september 2016

Rip Curl was showcasing its men’s footwear for 2017. The majority of the new line features rubber outsoles and waterproof leather, which increases in comfort each time worn.

surf expo september 2016

Rip Curl’s E Bomb women’s wetsuit series, featuring super stretch material and a flattering cut, continues to drive sales for the brand.

Swimwear brand Isla James impressed us with not only their fashion-forward Spring 17 line, but also their booth setup, complete with teepee.

Swimwear brand Isla James impressed us with not only their fashion-forward Spring 17 line, but also their booth setup, complete with teepee.

surf expo september 2016

Roxy took us through their Spring ’17 swimwear at this show. The brand highlighted their Cuba Gang colorway, seen above, as a standout for their new line.

surf expo september 2016

Roxy’s new swim line is inspired in part by lingerie design and floral patterns. The Shady Palm one piece, seen here, has been popular with both east and west coast retailers.

surf expo september 2016

Body Glove showcased their Smush line, which features an 80’s retro influence combined with modern fabrics.

surf expo september 2016

Body Glove proves that the combination of ’80s design with modern fabrics and cuts can produce a stand-out product.

surf expo september 2016

Katin made an impression with their cloud-wash design, which started in T-shirts and has been integrated throughout the Spring ’17 line.

surf expo september 2016

O’Neill’s Hyperfreak line continues to advance, with more technical integration like quick-dry fabrics and a cooling waistband included in the line.

surf expo september 2016

O’Neill also introduced to its boardshort collaboration with artist Brooklyn, featuring standout designs.

surf expo september 2016

Tavik continues to stay ahead of the curve with their women’s Spring ’17 line, which features color block designs and more one-piece offerings. Seen here from left to right: the Drew in rose dawn, the Jet and Jayden, respectively, and the Monahan in tan.

surf expo september 2016

Tavik has expanded their women’s line to include a wider offering of apparel. The Finley dress and Liza romper were East Coast favorites.

surf expo september 2016

LIRA Women’s Designer and Product Development Manager Natashia Tomek was getting an amazing response from East Coast buyers on the Summer line, just unveiled at this show.  This gem is the Talulah.

surf expo september 2016

Billabong’s Spring ’17 line features new details that include floral and tie-dye patterns, mesh and macrame detailing. The brand highlighted their one pieces as a standout product, versatile enough to go from beach to street wear.

surf expo september 2016

Billabong’s Dreamer suit included lace-up details in the back.

surf expo september 2016

Rusty’s “Before Crowds” collection is a look at surfing from 1985, the year the brand got its start. The prints and original logos were lifted straight out of Rusty’s archives.surf expo september 2016

The brand is hyped to announce that under its newly updated global distribution strategy, North America once again will see a more robust women’s collection. surf expo september 2016

The women’s “Before Crowds” T-shirt line was well-received from East Coast buyers.