IPD Surf is one of Orange County’s newest names in the surf apparel industry, but its history dates back decades.
The Costa Mesa company’s logo was originally created by Bob Hurley over 40 years ago. Hurley is one of the co-founders of IPD, his latest surf apparel venture after establishing Billabong USA in 1982 and then running his namesake retail company Hurley International until 2019.
Before becoming an icon in the surf and apparel industry, he was a surfboard shaper in Costa Mesa. Hurley would stamp the IPD logo, which stands for International Pro Designs, on each board “as a stamp of approval,” or certification.
Soon the black and white label would become a symbol in Southern California’s surfing community.
“It was like a badge of honor” when living in Newport Beach, said IPD Surf Chief Executive Mark Simpson.
Orange County, often considered the birthplace of the surfing apparel industry, has spawned several companies that have gone on to worldwide fame, such as Vans, PacSun, Volcom and Quiksilver.
Another one of those big industry names was Hurley, long based in Costa Mesa, which grew into a famous brand in the industry.
When Bob Hurley sold his namesake business to Nike in 2002—at the time doing around $70 million in revenue annually, according to reports—IPD was one piece of intellectual property he held onto.
“It’s a generational thing really—people that are a bit older remember it from back in the day and the kids now are looking at it like it’s something new,” IPD co-founder Bill Hurley, brother of Bob and one of several Hurley family members that are part of the company, told the Business Journal.
Simpson said the IPD team of longtime retail executives aim to build a fresh surf-centric business within the apparel industry.
The company’s product line includes a range of T-shirts, shorts, hats, wetsuits and other products.
Back to the Beach
The company was founded in 2020 by Bob and Bill Hurley, Simpson, Chief Financial Officer Erik Ingersoll and Chief Operating Officer Seth McKinney; they lead a team of 13 headquartered on Placentia Avenue and 19th Street in Costa Mesa. The company’s headquarters is a 1962 converted gas station.
The officials’ targeted market is independently owned specialty surf shops in surfing communities across the globe.
“It felt like the right time and place to take the big industry out of it and bring it back to more of a cultural movement,” Simpson said.
The team was able to bring IPD’s products to retail floors in 18 months and launched in June 2021 despite supply chain struggles resulting from the pandemic, according to Simpson.
“Which is pretty unbelievable to me and again, a testament to the team,” he added.
Simpson said IPD was created in an effort to swim away from the larger, corporate industry that was driven by private equity and had wandered away from the original consumer.
The owners wanted to create a space that was in full support of what they say is authentic, core surf retailers. A majority of the IPD team had grown up surfing and started their careers in local shops, according to Simpson.
“Throughout our business career, we have always maintained and support a connection to the core surf community; it’s who we are,” Bob Hurley said.
Bob Hurley had previously led his namesake brand for almost 20 years after leaving Billabong; Simpson and McKinney had exited Hurley after their own 20 to 25-year careers. Employees have also held roles in Nike.
“It’s an owner-operated business,” Bill Hurley said of the new venture. “It’s not somebody else driving.”
The team is split up between California and Hawaii, IPD’s two largest U.S. markets.
IPD has already released eight seasonal collections and, thanks to existing connections, has been delivered to nine countries. CFO Ingersoll noted that an instant network was available right at the inception of the firm.
The team reported an “overwhelming response” from prior retail partners and accounts that dated back to Simpson and McKinney’s early days with Hurley.
Current popular products include woven tops, boardshorts, and jackets with prices ranging from $26 to $130. The focus is the “print, fabric and fit,” VP of Product and Design Christopher Hurley, Bob’s nephew, noted.
The very first seasonal collection was released across 46 dealers out of a goal of 50, from California to Central America to South Korea. It now counts over 100 of these business accounts, according to Simpson.
IPD sells products in more than 130 doors through its North American dealers with a goal to reach 200 placements in the next 12 months.
IPD apparel has also been placed in 140 international doors, with Japan being the largest market overseas, according to Vice President of International Janet O’Connell.
“The surf shop culture, say, at Surf Side Sports in Costa Mesa down the street is not that different than the surfing culture at Heritage Surf and Sport in Margate, New Jersey, even though it’s on completely opposite coasts,” Simpson said.
“We want to keep the brand in the hands of surfers,” Ingersoll said.
Existing markets are seeing same-store sales in the double digits as of February, Ingersoll said. Currently, the team is looking to enter Australia.
A surfboard with one of the original IPD station from the 1980s sits in the company’s warehouse-turned-office, which lies across the street from Hurley’s original shaping room.
Choosing Costa Mesa for its headquarters was like returning “back to the roots,” Ingersoll said.
“This is sort of ground zero for the surf industry and the skate industry, [and] within a mile radius, there’s probably 15 or 20 brands that have started and located here,” Hurley said.
IPD, which doesn’t disclose revenue, does not expect to stay small in the long term.
“We’ve more than doubled our business in the last 12 months,” Ingersoll added. “We want to be a very large competitor in the surf space.”
In the future, IPD sees a possibility of growing into parallel markets based on other interests and hobbies of existing customers and athlete ambassadors outside of surfing such as skating. Arts and entertainment could also hold potential.
For McKinney, the success of the product all comes down to what the consumer brings to the register.
“That’s how the consumer really votes—they vote with taking up your piece of product to the register,” he said.
“And the register has been ringing for a lot of our partners.”