Dakine Strikes Apparel Licensing Deal with Roxy Licensee
Dakine parent Marquee Brands struck a multi-year licensing deal with The Levy Group that’s set to propel the outdoor brand’s lifestyle line to what executives hope could one day be about half the overall business.
The deal gives The Levy Group the North American license to produce Dakine lifestyle product beginning in Spring 2024. The agreement spans apparel for men, women and kids. More specifically, it includes performance wear, technical ski and snow product, active and outdoor apparel, base layers, and swimwear.
Marquee bought Dakine in 2018 and the past five years have seen the brand’s apparel business bounce around to various partners. The multi-year deal with The Levy Group is aimed at providing consistency of product. That’s underscored by Levy’s building of an active and outdoor infrastructure to accommodate its more recent industry licensing deals, which also include Roxy North America women’s swimwear, casual and performance outerwear.
“We wanted to find a partner with a couple of key attributes and one of them is really stability in the apparel space,” said Marquee Brands Executive Vice President and GM of Active/Outdoor Peter Maule. “The Levy Group has been around for over 70 years. That was something that was really important to us to give retailers, consumers, and sales reps a lot of comfort that we’ve got a stable partner with a longstanding heritage in the apparel space. It took us over a year to find the right partner. There was a lot of vetting of interested parties. They really believe that this space is underdeveloped and there’s a huge opportunity to really grow the Dakine apparel brand.”
The Dakine deal also came with news that Marquee’s Ben Sherman brand would be working with The Levy Group on a new sport collection that includes men’s golf apparel and performance apparel.
“We’ve been in licensing for a long time now and what we don’t like to do is just find a licensee that wants to pump it and dump it and do every off-price store in America,” said Nick Meistrell, vice president of global marketing for Marquee’s Body Glove and Dakine brands, of The Levy Group deal. “These guys get it and they’re here for the long haul.”
The Levy Group Investment and Infrastructure
Infrastructure, retail relationships and talent were chief selling points for Marquee with The Levy Group.
Maule pointed to The Levy Group’s future Costa Mesa office that’s being built to accommodate its outdoor business as another example of why Marquee went with the company for the Dakine deal.
“They’ve made a sizable investment building out the outdoor, action sports infrastructure, both from investing in office space right in the heart of the market, but also the investment they’ve made bringing in top talent from Boardriders,” Maule said.
That includes Jeff Brusven, former Boardriders Americas director of snow sales, who was tapped to serve as managing vice president of sales, action sports at Levy.
Some of the workforce in the new office will include Dakine-dedicated staff, while other workers will cross over and work on multiple brands.
On the distribution front, Maule said Levy understands the Dakine brand’s heritage and where it belongs at retail. That means further building out of relationships with retailers such as REI and Backcountry, Maule said by way of example. It also means finding the potential in other retailers within the outdoor and action sports apparel space, such as Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s.
“We want to put this brand where the outdoor enthusiast goes to shop and never (lose) sight of the specialty, independent retailer because that’s really the halo,” Maule said.
While The Levy Group takes a big chunk of the Dakine business, Maule, Meistrell and the rest of the Marquee team are now in the midst of finding other partners for markets outside of North America.
They’re looking for partners that will either take on the apparel business from the line created by The Levy Group or, in some cases, do business with a hybrid approach that would include Levy product and market-specific designs.
Dakine is already in the European Union, making the opportunity to expand there a focus area. Maule also said Marquee sees potential in southeast Asia and the Australia/New Zealand market.
The wheels set in motion are all part of a multi-year strategy being hammered out now that would significantly grow Dakine’s lifestyle line, which spans most anything outside of equipment. It currently accounts for between 30% and 33% of the business and could very well grow to be about half the business longer term.
“Without question, the growth of lifestyle is the number one priority for the brand globally, and that cuts across everything from backpacks, bags, apparel,” Maule said, adding that the company is in no way looking to lose sight of the core.
Part of striking that balance between the core and a potentially broader consumer base is where Meistrell and the rest of the Marquee marketing team come into play in how the brand gets positioned over the next few years.
“In my eyes and where our trajectory is, is to really chase after the lifestyle that’s about what you’re doing in between surf sessions, what you’re doing in between bike sessions or a snowboard session,” Meistrell said. “So really taking our customer and athlete personas off the mountain and out of the water is how we’re directing it. Everyone has to travel to get to one of these places.”
The first of the product made with The Levy Group debuts next year, but it’ll be a soft launch given the deal between the two companies was only executed in June. Even so, Maule applauded Levy’s ability to quickly get product to market, paired with a high level of research.
A full evolution of the brand’s lifestyle assortment is likely to come over the next 18 to 24 months, the executive said. The hope once that evolution has come to market is the same as any brand has: more floor space at retail, particularly as the action sports world churns with the sale of the Boardriders group to Authentic Brands Group and Boardriders’ transition to a licensing model.
“We keep hearing it from retailers and other people alike that they’re ready for a change, and I think Dakine’s in a perfect position as a heritage brand with quality product,” Meistrell said. “The Levy Group is going to be a launchpad for us to come out with a new Dakine.”
So far, Dakine’s equipment side, which is made by the licensee JR286, has seen some increased floor space at retail more recently. It’s too soon to know if apparel will follow a similar path, but Marquee executives are hopeful given its experience working with licensees.
“Whenever there’s mass disruption like what we’re experiencing now (in the industry),” Maule said, “I think we’re looking to make sure we really take advantage of it by getting to market with the right product, the right inventory and I think there’s going to be a lot of transition in (other) brands trying to find their new way in a licensing model.”
Kari Hamanaka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.