ASR springboards into the next quarter century with a bigger, busier show. From January 20-22, ASR brought summer and fall lines from the hottest emerging brands, strongest established brands, and spectacular special events to San Diego. Friday set the tone for the show with busy opening day traffic and an energized 25th anniversary party.
“ASR January featured the perfect mix of order writing and high energy events,” says Kevin Flanagan. “ASR continues to be the gathering place for the tribe. I am proud that the show is more relevant than ever. Business gets done and industry obstacles are overcome. I was happy that the surfboard foam shortage was clearly addressed through face-to-face communication at ASR.”
The ASR show floor was packed with buyers writing orders. “Were always looking for new business the new traffic was exciting, showing growth in our industry,” says Johnny Schillereff, Founder of Element. Interest in action sports lines continues to blossom, expanding the variety and size of retailer interest in ASR. A diverse mix of retailers included buyers from the worlds largest department stores, the trendiest boutiques, over 2 dozen countries and the favorite surf, skate and snow shops.
“I love this show, we get so much done here,” says Wendy Butts, a buyer of Hansens in Encinitas, CA. “It is helpful to see the clothing on models and to be able to view all the colorways at once. For buyers outside of the Southern California industry center, ASR is imperative to buying for the year. “Where we live there are no showrooms, so we need to be here to see product in person,” says Jay Moore of World Boards in Montana.
ASRs reputation as the place where trends are made is confirmed each show in the aisles. Thierry and Laure Deniel came to ASR from Perros Guirec in France to find trends way before they reach Europe and others that may never even make it overseas, “Being here helps us get a first look at trends, especially skate shoes well be back.”
Glicks, which includes 57 storefronts throughout the mid-west uses ASR to buy from their current accounts, but like many retailers at ASR makes scooping out new brands a priority. “Today we are focused on finding emerging brands with tight, exclusive distribution,” says Carmen Wilke, Buyer for Glicks.
Gold Box Mission
The first place many buyers looked for new brands was in Boost Mobiles Gold Box Mission. The Gold Box is a section of new, up-and-coming brands. It exploded to a gathering of 20 brands for ASR January. “Since Beck(y) has been around for a few years, felt like everyone had heard about it but I met tons of retailers for the first time,” says Beck Hinckley, Owner of NYC based Beck(y). “Ill open a lot of accounts from ASR.”
A DJ, bar, and comfortable areas to hang out made the Boost Mobile Gold Box Mission a meeting place for buyers throughout the day. Bob Abdel from Jacks Surf Shop in Huntington Beach cruised the box finding Salt Sunglasses and 3 t-shirt brands that he plans to follow-up with. “Foot traffic is amazing at ASR!, There are so many different sensibilities,” says first time ASR brand, Love this Life, Owner David Culiner. “We always do the more fashiony shows, so ASR is like we are starting over as a whole new brand.”
Other generally more boutique rooted brands, such as Convoy, Lifetime Collective, Scrapbook, Ambission, GRN Apple Tree and others used this ASR show to reach beyond their base to new retail opportunities. But, many were pleasantly surprised to see tons of fashion boutiques shopping ASR along side of the surf, skate and snow retailers.
“A lot of new shops are coming through even the majors, allowing us to build good relationships,” says Dustin Odbert, Owner of Ambission. “There is so much creativity in here, were stoked!”
Outside of the box, many new brands found ASR a great place to expand their distribution. Omar Bennett, Director of Marketing for Palis a designer tee brand from New York says, “This is our first time really reaching out to the west coast we are really pleased with the outcome.”
With the biggest shake up in surfboard manufacturing history happening only a month before ASR January, the industry used ASR to find solutions to recent foam shortages. The SIMA Board Builders Summit filled the big room with shapers, foam producers from around the globe, industry leaders and retailers looking for answers to the new concerns in surfboard manufacturing. “The SIMA Board Builder's forum at ASR was an excellent step forward for board builders and material suppliers,” says Bill Bahne, chairman of the SIMA Board Builders Special Interest Group and president of Fins Unlimited. “Based on the feedback we received, the sharing of information and materials options was extremely valuable, but it was the opportunity to get together as a group to discuss the issues at hand that really made the event a success.”
On the show floor many foam suppliers and board brands signed on to show at ASR last minute. Surfboard booths were slammed with orders and inquiries from foam suppliers. “There is a lot of energy in regards to surfboard manufacturing right now,” says Scott Anderson, GM of Channel Islands. “We are extremely busy meeting with buyers and a new flow of foam suppliers.
Many retailers didnt want to miss a single chance to refill surfboard inventories. Not wanting to wait long enough to even place orders, they started buying up dozens of boards directly from the show floor. Sold signs began to pop up on boards the second ASR started.
Buyers from around the world sought out snow on the ASR floor. “We look at as much snow as we can at ASR, it is very helpful to have snow here,” says Jay Moore of World Boards. At ASR January, Quiksilver, Roxy, 686, Volcom, DC and Burton had snow lines available to retailers. Burton used ASR as the launch pad for the new fashion line, B by Burton.
Matixs “Rack a Few” Rail Jam provided what MC Ryan Clements described as an “intimate setting. It felt like a session, but thousands of people were able to watch,” Clements comments. Events, especially the live skate demos and comps add hype and buzz to ASR, reminding attendees what is at the root of the industry. “Being able to see skaters throw down inside the show,” Matt McKee from World Boards says is a great way to break up the day of business. At the end of the Matix Rail Jam, Gailea Momolu walked away with the $10,000 prize purse and Jeremy Rogers grabbed 2nd.
ASRs 25th Anniversary party brought the industry together on the first night of the show. After the business day many people appreciated the light atmosphere and opportunity to see so many friends. “The 25th party was so much fun, the slide show was classic, music rockin and fashion show came together to build a good vibe,” says Mike Duncan from the Board Retailers Association.