Roxy Homage to Lisa Andersen Marks Inflection Point for Surf Industry
The intimate gathering at the Pacific City Art Gallery drew Roxy founding and current team members, industry executives, marketers, and athletes, including Bob McKnight, Danny Kwock, Randy Hild, Lisa Andersen, Jeff Booth, and Veronica Kay to unveil the “Lisa Andersen Surfs Better Than You” photo exhibition.
The exhibition, named after the Surfer Magazine cover story featuring Andersen, was curated by Charles Adler and featured more than 30 photos by Jeff Hornbaker. It also marked a 30-year relationship between Andersen and Roxy and paired with the launch of a ‘90s-inspired capsule between the surf brand and 4x World Champion.
“My heart is so full,” Andersen said in an Instagram post a day after the Huntington Beach event. “This brand became more than just a clothing empire. The heart logo represents everything I could’ve ever dreamed or hoped to be a part of.”
Andersen is credited with helping lend her expertise as an athlete to help inform Roxy’s early boardshort designs. She ultimately became the face of the brand at a time before the concept of an “influencer” or a women’s surf brand even existed.
Much of the opening event focused on many of the firsts surrounding Andersen and Roxy, with Cathey Curtis, Roxy Americas general manager, serving as the evening’s MC.
“To Lisa and all of those here that contributed over the years to the Roxy brand, you moved an entire generation of young women to challenge themselves, to believe in themselves, to have courage, to feel naturally beautiful, to feel alive, just as they are,” said Curtis, who also worked with Roxy and Quiksilver earlier in her career.
In addition, McKnight, Hild, Booth, and Melissa Martinez were among the evening’s speakers, reflecting on Andersen’s legacy and also applauding those in attendance for their role in building Roxy.
“It was an honor to tell some stories about the good old days with Lisa Andersen,” said Jeff Booth, the former pro-surfer who went on to hold various sales positions at Oakley, Quiksilver, Billabong, and Sanuk. “It was amazing being on tour and watching her rise to the top from humble beginnings. She always had that shy persona almost like she couldn’t believe it was happening. But it happened and was pure elegance and greatness.”
Randy Hild, a veteran of Quiksilver Inc., recalled during the event nearly every hand being raised when attendees were asked how many had worked on or somehow touched the Roxy brand.
“What started as a celebration that evening of this amazing accomplishment by this woman in the industry that was arguably one of the leading women in surfing, grew into this celebration of this group of people that had an amazing career together and went to the college of Quiksilver and college of the industry,” Hild said. “To go back and stop for a minute and revisit what happened between the beginning of the industry through to 2007, there were 150 people in the room to realize we were very fortunate to see it, but we probably won’t see it again in our lifetime. Lucky us.”
That sentiment led some, including Hild, to wonder if the industry is perhaps witnessing the end of an era, which he described as a 20-year growth cycle of grassroots, community building. That chapter could be ending as retailers and brands await the outcome of the Boardriders sale to Authentic Brands Group, which is expected to close some time in the current quarter. After the sale, Roxy is expected to move into a licensing model, which Authentic specializes in.
Hild, who joined Quiksilver in 1991, came to the company at a time when the industry was experiencing the end of a boom in the neon beach trend.
“You couldn’t give neon away at that time. Everyone was making black shorts and the industry was struggling,” Hild recalled. “Quiksilver in its greatness and Bob McKnight in his greatness started rethinking what we should do. What’s our brand stand for? And he came up with this brand book and said we’re the boardriders brand. He came up with a formula and said, ‘Let’s expand.’”
That meant growth into girls, boys, and company-owned retail. More specifically, it was the starting point of Roxy.
“They were a public company at the time, so they had to appease Wall Street and that was the riddle Bob had to explain [to investors and analysts],” Hild said. “He sold the bigger vision, and Quiksilver wrote the book on how to expand.”
Could a brand like Roxy be built today? That’s a loaded question, Hild said. He pointed to the Great Recession that began in late 2007, coupled with a more sustainably minded consumer today that has created a different operating environment.
“That big boom leading up to ’07, so much of it was artificial and not healthy on so many levels,” Hild said. “It was exciting going through it and rocking and rolling, but it just simply won’t happen again. Now, that being said, there is an opportunity for someone to pull a Nike or Ralph Lauren with the big brands that exist. Could one of these brands still have the deep respect for its roots and authenticity to nurture and support it? Yeah, I think that’s possible with the right brand and the right hands.”
Kari Hamanaka can be reached at email@example.com.