It was another crazy day Saturday at ASR. The aisles were packed as retail buyers rushed from booth to booth to check out the latest styles for Spring 08 from action sports brands. Show director Andy Tompkins told me Sunday it was the largest show in five years with over 750 brands in 1,600 booths. Of course, it's also prime time to network, gossip and for reporters, dig up news. Keep reading to see lots of photos, read news bites and see a sexy L*Space bikini!
Surf shops, who mainly carry Rip Curl watches and wet suits, are also responding to the new styles. The spring 08 offering is the first full line created under Kelly's direction since he left the top job at O'Neill Clothing in Irvine in late 2006.
Rip Curl, headquartered in Australia, is huge internationally but struggles in the U.S. The company got serious when it finally put an American in charge of U.S. operations, hiring Kelly away from O'Neill -- one of the top five U.S. surf brands.
Rip Curl changed direction a lot in the U.S. in the past, frustrating retailers. "It's been challenging, no doubt about it," he said about this new job. "Consumers like Rip Curl, they just can't find it because the retailers weren't buying the product. My job is to make good product ... and earn back the business with retailers."Monica Wise, left, owner of L*Space
Photographer Yuri Hasegawa, left, and Editor
Gary Ward, right, founder and CEO of sandal company Ocean Minded in San Clemente. Crocs Inc. bought Ocean Minded in February and Gary is happy he now has the resources to expand. Before, Ocean Minded couldn't make enough sandals to meet demand. Now, the company is plugged into Crocs factories.
Ocean Minded has also moved into a portion of Crocs distribution channel, and is now in 1,200 retail stores, up from 600 before the acquisition. The extra financial backing allowed Gary to hire two designers, bring outside sales reps in-house and expand its product line.
For Spring 08, Ocean Minded will have a full line of womens and mens T-shirts, left middle, and kids sandals. Some of the materials in Crocs have also been incorporated into Ocean Minded's new "Seaweed" line. "I'm very excited," Gary said. "It's only been six or so months (since the acquisition). We're just getting started."
Left, a few Ocean Minded sandal styles.
I see Crocs shoes on kids' feet everywhere around Orange County. Crocs is publicly traded, with its headquarters in Colorado.
Is there any brand more on fire than Vans? The Cypress skateboard shoe company has really hit its stride.
Skateboard shop owners tell me Vans are flying off the shelf, which is pretty amazing considering the brand was dead in the water at skate shops five years ago. The company is successfully segmenting product for different channels (they have stuff in Fred Segal and Kohl's) and are making a big push with apparel with help from new owners VF Corp.
I know the guys styles are great, but I love all the new girls shoes. The colors and patterns are super cute, not the masculine shoes skateboard companies made in the past.
While he didn't give hard numbers, Vans Vice President of Marketing Doug Palladini, above left, said Vans "continues to exceed our financial expectations." That's got to make VF Corp. happy. VF is a publicly traded company headquartered in North Carolina that owns a large portfolio of brands in a variety of channels including Wrangler, Lee, Nautica, The North Face, Reef and Jansport. VF Corp. bought Vans in 2004.
Reef, another company owned by VF, launched its womens line at the show. Reef is famous for its sandals, and surf shops owners have been asking for more clothes from the company for years.
At left, Reef designer Meme Snell shows a new dress.
Reef, headquartered in Carlsbad, went big with the womens launch. In apparel, there are three separate collections and 90 pieces total.
Reef created a full swim line and revamped its closed-toe shoes. The product is aimed at 17 to 24 year olds.
Last but not least, here's my pal Jennifer Bellantonio of the Orange County Business Journal interviewing Joel Cooper, CEO of Lost International in Irvine. Jennifer's back at work after having her second baby earlier this year. Jennifer and I worked together long ago at The Orange County Register.