For Summer 2010 Quiksilver Americas took an idea from the company’s European business and applied it Stateside. Under the moniker “Union Boardshort Collection” Quiksilver worked directly with seven key accounts—one from each region of the U.S.—to create a capsule line of collaborative boardshorts that highlight each of the store’s unique regions and heritage. TransWorld Business caught up with Quiksilver’s VP of Sales Dave Rosenberger to hear how things went.
So where did this ideas come from and what’s it all about?
The genesis of the program is to do something special for these guys [select specialty accounts]. The purpose of the whole thing is to zero in on some of our key accounts—guys that have been good partners that not only represent the brand, but also the culture and the lifestyle … We pick a shop from each region and they can do anything they want with their boardshort—there are no rules. They can pick the fabric, silhouette, length, features, and design.
How long have you been doing this?
It actually started in Europe. Over in Europe this is their third season; we’re only on our second. We just picked the seven shops for next season.
What shops were involved this year?
The Seven we picked for the first year were Cinnamon Rainbows, Heritage, 17th Street, and Island Water Sports on the East Coast. Out here it was Jack’s, Surfside, and Val Surf.
After you notify the stores that they have been selected, what’s the next step?
They sit down with our designer, there are no rules, and they work up a design that is special to their shop and their region. It speaks to their heritage, and that’s what it’s all about. Then we produce it. There are no minimums. It’s a special program and a true collaboration with Quiksilver and the shop. The idea is that each shop carries all seven of the boardshorts. So whether you walk into 17th Street or Jack’s, we’ve got this presentation set up that displays all seven boardshorts—hence the word Union.
Was there any push back asking these stores to carry other stores’ designs?
When we went out and pitched the idea of them carrying each others boardshorts we were a little concerned, but when we explained the program and that the idea is to bring everyone together, most guys are pretty fired up to do it … We didn’t tell the other shops what each guy were working on, so they all turned out to be unique.
So how did the boardies turn out?
Cinnamon Rainbows ended up doing something to cater to people in the North East. So many people up there are Boston Redsox fans, so they did this sort of tribute to Fenway park boardshort that’s green like the green monster [in left field] with yellow piping that represents the foul posts.
Heritage came to us and said they had a local artist guy that does watercolors with fin art. So they got the guy to paint a piece of art and that’s what they put on the boardshort.
17th Street are obviously always watching a hurricane map, so they took a map from the weather channel and put a hurricane map down the side of the boardshort.
Down South at Island Water Sports, they’re all about the community there in Deerfield Beach, Florida, so they did a photo collage boardshort where they took photos of the pier, their shop, some of their local riders, and did a collage.
The Jack’s guys did a similar thing [a photo collage] but with Huntington Beach, the pier, and they had these funny little captions in there as well.
Surfside’s was killer also. They did a sort of Echo Beach theme. They had scalloped legs, polka dots and stars, which really represents Newport and those guys.
Val Surf took their LA logo and slapped it on a black boardshort and it killed it. So it was cool to see what each shop came up with.
When did the product ship and how’d it do at retail?
June 15 … The really cool thing about the whole thing is that we shipped it out, sent out the POP, and everyone did a really good job of merchandising it. So all these guys were calling each other and asking each other how theirs were selling in other shops. So there was all this little back and forth rivalry going on.
The Heritage short was probably the best seller, which no one would’ve probably ever guessed. It just sold really well … It’s fun. We don’t make them buy any minimums or anything like that. We just ask them to buy whatever they think they can sell. It’s just a cool program to have for a few months during the summer to share with your employees and customers.
Does it move the needle for you guys as far as sales, or is it more about uniting these retailers from different regions?
It’s a little bit of both. Some of the guys went really huge because for htem to have a boardshort with their name on it and Quiksilver on it was a really big deal. Other guys did things like make an all store order for their boardshort and then only carry the others in their flagships store, which was cool.
But everyone bought at least a size run that was deep enough to have inventory, and once they bought it, we didn’t hold any inventory. There were no reorders or anything like that. If for some reason someone were to bomb with one of the other guys boardshorts, we’d take them back and send them to the shop that designed them. So wasn’t really any major risk. It was more about just having fun with something and giving these guys something special with no risk. It was really personal; people like that. It gave the floor staffs of these shops something to talk about.
As far as MSRP, was there a sliding scale based on what materials they used, or was there one price for all seven styles?
That’s a good question. Everything was $59.50, and that’s kind of right where the in-line Diamond Dobby styles sells for. No one really wanted to go super teched out with the thing. They wanted it to be creative and different, but they also wanted to be able to sell it. Everybody kind of just came in at the same price. I don’t know, if someone came in with an idea that was super teched out then we would [sell them for more] but it kind of just worked out that they were all the same price.
Can shops buy back into this?
We’ve had guys ask us that, and the program is the program. If a shop wants to do a special order or something we do have a minimum amount to do a special-make-up, but for this program there are no minimums, and if you want to get back into it, it’s back to business as usual. So it’s open if they would like to buy back into it, but the program doesn’t last forever. People respect that. I think there are a couple of people who are going to buy back into their own.
Do you have the shops set up for next year?
We’ve got them set up and they are all fired up. This time when I showed it to them I was able to do it in person between ASR and Agenda, and when you show them the boardshorts they’re blown away. But they also think they can do better than what the other guys did, so it’s funny to hear them talk about it.
Can you tell us who the stores are going to be next year?
Well, I could but it’s kind of fun to keep it a secret!