Orange County Business Journal

Hobie Taps Hurley for Menswear Brand Revival

APPAREL: Slightly older aim for Nike unit; October debut Kari Hamanaka Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Hobie brand also includes retail shops.

San Juan Capistrano-based Laguna Beach Properties Inc. has a license to operate Hobie surf shops, with stores in Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar and two in San Clemente.

Initially, the Hobie by Hurley mens line will be sold in Hobie stores and some other retailers.

Licensing deals have led to some brand dilution, prompting the company to retool its agreements a little more than five years ago.

Second Time Around

Men’s clothing isn’t entirely new for Hobie.

The brand was sold under a line of clothes for young men in the 1980s through a licensing deal struck with Burbank-based Great American Shirt Co.

The line did well in surf shops and department stores, but the surf industry “was a little different back then,” Alter said. “There were not as many people in it.”

Hobie’s most recent apparel license was with Mississippi’s Block Corp., which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Mix of Styles

Alter describes the new line as a mix of both casual clothes and athletic gear.

“We’re working with Hurley and Nike on technical products that will cater to a lot of water sports,” Alter said.

For Hurley, the licensing deal brings a certain cachet associated with a brand long viewed as a pioneer in the industry.

“We’re not typically in the licensing business,” said Hurley founder and Chairman Bob Hurley in a statement. “But we’ve always had such an admiration for the Hobie brand.”

Target Customer

Hobie is looking to stick with its target age of 30 and older.

The Hurley brand typically aims for a slightly younger audience,

“Our demographic is an all around waterman: surfers, sailors, stand-up paddle boarders,” Alter said. “Our focus isn’t a younger audience. It’s an athletic audience.”

About 60% of surfers in the U.S. are ages 25 or older, according to action sports and youth marketing consulting and research company Board-Trac Inc. in Trabuco Canyon.

“In general, the older demographic will spend more per item and shop less frequently,” said Board-Trac cofounder Marie Case. “The younger demographic will buy more of whatever item—whether it’s sunglasses or board shorts—but spend less per item.”

The Hobie brand could resonate with older shoppers who grew up with or are aware of the brand’s history in the industry.

“I think of Hobie as being a pioneer,” Case said. “There’s this idea of going back to the pioneers of surfing and their names, and their brands. They still have a lot of brand equity.”

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