The 14th annual SIMA Surf Summit kicked off Wednesday evening in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, with a keynote speech from SDSI Founder and former professional basketball player Bill Walton, followed by a day of presentations which included a state of the industry address from SIMA President Doug Palladini, revealing the results from SIMA’s 2010 Retail Distribution Study.

The study, which is SIMA’s fourth biannual in-depth look at the surf and skate retail market, indicates that overall sales in the core retail channel were down 13.5% compared to 2008. The surf and skate market, just looking at the core retail channel, was a $4.6 billion industry in 2010. Footwear made up for $1.5 billion of those sales, increasing 8.2% over 2008, and wetsuit sales also saw an increase of 23.4%. Apparel saw the biggest loss, down 41.1%. Hardgoods sales, although staying relatively flat over the last few years, did see a spike in the SUP category, with sales growing 35%.

On Wednesday, SIMA’s Sean Smith moderated a chat with Jeff Yokoyama, founder of Maui & Sons and Pirate Surf, and mastermind behind brands like Stussy, Modern Amusement and Generic Youth. Yokoyama, who spoke about his inspiration behind each of the brands, has recently launched a project called Yoki’s Garden, an effort to recycle college uniforms, beach towels and other old clothing and make it into new clothing as a way of “closing the loop” on the life cycle of consumer goods. Giving all of his endeavors what he calls “the warm water” test, Yokoyama says the key to any good brand is when the people behind it are still passionate about what they’re doing no matter how long they’ve been in business. “You have to witness it,” he says. “You have to live it. Everyone in this room who has created their own brand has lived it.”

Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist, spoke about how brands can understand and communicate with Generation Y. Amongst the takeaways from her presentation, Yarrow reminds brands to keep their message personal, giving teenagers a sense of belonging to the brand by letting them participate in campaigns via social media outlets, and by “making it faster” when it comes to that communication to cater to shorter attention spans.

Closing the afternoon was a look at The Onion’s approach to drawing in an audience through social media from Director of Digital Content Baratunde Thurston. Through a series of specific case studies, Thurston showed how The Onion uses social media to give its event coverage a unique voice and perspective, getting the audience involved through games and driving its community of readers to action when it comes to using Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr or any other social media sites.

On day two, the group split up into roundtable discussions on several key issues surrounding retail including rejuvenating the juniors market, product innovation and the value of West Coast trade shows. The conference wrapped up with a closing ceremony on the beach which featured discussions with professional surfers Jamie O’Brien, Mark Healey, and Lisa Andersen, moderated by Martin “Pottz” Potter.

For a look at more photos, visit the gallery on SIMA‘s Facebook page.