Profile: Can Roxy lead the juniors’ market to new heights?

In tennis you get two chances to get your serve in. In golf, you can take a mulligan. You can even go to traffic school to erase a speeding ticket.

The proverbial “do over” is a great thing. Quiksilver proved that to the surf industry in 1993 when it relaunched its once-scrapped line of juniors’ clothing called Roxy (you might have heard of it). In just eight short years the brand has skyrocketed from a small line of boardshorts and tees to a 100-million-dollar juggernaut that’s looking at yet another year of 25-percent growth.

As Roxy has grown, so has the entire juniors’ market. In fact, before Roxy there wasn’t a juniors’ market in the surf industry. Other than a few bikinis, apparel sections in surf shops were dedicated to men’s boardshorts, walkshorts, and T-shirts. Roxy’s success opened the doors for other brands to try their hand at girls clothing.

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Today, nearly every surf-apparel manufacturer is offering at least some form of juniors’ wear, whether it’s just T-shirts or a complete collection. But is there room for more brands, and will this boom in the girls’ market continue?

Take Two
It was in 1991 when Quiksilver took its first stab at the juniors’ market. Back then the surf industry was in the tank. It was recovering from a post-neon depression and struggling to find the next big thing to come along.

“Surf was dead, neon was over, there was no new next trend, and surf companies were kind of crashing and downsizing,” recalls Randy Hild, Quiksilver senior vice president. “Quiksilver was only a men’s company at that time. We didn’t do boys’, we didn’t do women’s, didn’t do surfboards — it was basically just boardshorts and T-shirts. We hardly had a fall product offering.”

Quiksilver realized it needed to diversify in order to grow and take the pressure off its men’s line. It saw an opportunity in the juniors’ business, so the company decided to introduce a line of girls’ swimwear. Though the idea was good, it was poorly executed.

“They did it for a couple of years, but didn’t give it enough support,” says Hild. “The Quiksilver men’s reps were selling bikinis, and they didn’t really know how to sell it. It was a different industry and a different market. It didn’t fit that great, and it didn’t deliver that great. So basically it kind of fumbled, and they closed the division.”

But Quiksilver management had a hunch the Roxy brand could succeed, so in 1993 it acquired swimwear-maker Raisins (and also hired Hild, who was Raisins’ vice president of marketing).

“The idea,” says Hild, “was, ‘If we don’t know swimwear, we’ll get a swimwear company and they’ll help us make this Roxy brand work. They’ll know swimwear and maybe know how to do sportswear.’”

The Roxy-Raisins combo proved to be a good match, and after the Roxy line relaunched, the kinks in swimwear were ironed out and the nascent brand expanded into denim.

Right Time, Right Product
Timing was another ingredient that fueled Roxy’s success. At that time more girls were wearing guys’ clothing, and the entire teen population was growing.

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“In about ’94 or ’95 we saw that girls were wearing a lot of guys’ clothes,” says Hild. “Levi’s 501s, flannel shirts, and vintage clothing were huge. And what we saw in Hawai’i was a lot of girls surfing in guys’ boardshorts. We were doing a boys’ line at the time and the small-men’s waist sizes were blowing off the rack — primarily to girls.

“So the light bulb went off,” continues Hild, “‘We should make boardshorts for girls.’”

Roxy was the first brand to make a functional product for girls, and that laid the foundation for success in other areas of the juniors’ market. But Hild admits they never anticipated how incredibly fast it would grow.

“We created this package that everyone grasped,” says Hild. “The surf media grasped it, the fashion media got on it, and the juniors’ fashion market got it. It got copied all over t place. We were so far ahead of the game, we were so out there by ourselves, that it took a couple years even for the surf industry to copy us — before Rusty got a line, Billabong got a line, or O’Neill started doing a line.

“It was a little bit of luck and a lot of dynamics happening at the same time: a strong boardshort product, a world champion icon, the Quiksilver bank, and the amazing teen demographic,” continues Hild. “Where we got a little lucky — and where no one ever could have masterminded or imagined — was the power of the juniors’ shopper and how much money girls spent on clothes. We had no clue — the industry didn’t have a clue.”

The Industry Chimes In
It wasn’t long before the rest of the industry caught on to the phenomenon that Roxy created. Toward the end of the 90s, juniors’ lines from other surfwear manufacturers began to pop up, turning girls’ clothing into a legitimate — and competitive — category.

As Volcom, O’Neill, Hurley, Rusty, and Billabong came out with solid juniors’ lines, surf retailers were forced to choose between girls’ brands. Roxy welcomed the new competition — even though it would cost the brand floor space and marketshare.

“It got us on our toes a little bit,” says Hild. “Not that we were asleep, but we never had to worry about competition. Then all of the sudden our business flattened off.”

In 1998, after five years of amazing growth, sales tapered off at the 100-million-dollar mark. This wasn’t a bad place to be, but it concerned the Roxy staff nonetheless, and the 25-person marketing and design team went back to the drawing board.

The crew realized that the Roxy customer, once just entering her teens, was now graduating high school. Big logos, bright colors, and hibiscus flowers weren’t going to cut it anymore. And Roxy’s competitors were already on it.

“When the line first came out in ’94, we were very calculated with capturing the baby boomers’ kids — they were the next big demographic bubble that was growing,” says Hild. “But what we didn’t calculate was that as she grew up — now she’s eighteen or nineteen, she’s driving, she’s dating, she’s sexy, and her body’s changed — we may be losing her because we were a bit teenyboppy. Our logos were too big, our colors were too happy, and we were maybe a little too small because we based our fit on younger, thinner girls.”

A Brand At The Crossroads
Roxy faced a dilemma. Should it age the brand to appeal to its longtime customers or stay status quo and hope to capture the next generation of teens? In a bold move, the brand decided to travel both paths: age with its current customers without alienating the younger girls.

They knew it wouldn’t be easy. Roxy hired Dana Dartez in January 2000 to change the fit and evolve the look. Dartez, who founded juniors’ brand Sugar in 1996, had a better feel for the older demographic. “We tweaked ourselves a little bit,” says Hild. “We’re aging it up a little bit, but not radically. We don’t want to lose our customers. We want to make sure we don’t lose the sixteen-, seventeen-, and eighteen-year-old girl. We’ve started getting comfortable with a bit more sexiness in our line. Our logos aren’t as big and happy, and we’re not using such a happy color palette. We’re more refined, with more denim and sexier tops.”

“We’ve historically always had a very young juniors’ customer,” says Vice President of Roxy Sales Deanna Jackson. “We want to expand and age her up without losing her. So there are parts of the line that are more logo driven — and they’re very important. But for the high school kid and college kid, we want to make it a little bit more groovy, cool, and hip — and maybe a little bit more sexy. You’re seeing more fitted pieces with more interesting applications.”

So far, the strategy is a hit. “We’re seeing some amazing new growth,” says Hild. “We’re going to end up this year at around 120- to 125-million in Roxy sales. We’re seeing twenty-, 25-percent growth, and it caught us by surprise. We planned a little bit of growth, but this is going beyond our expectations.”

Diamond In The Rough
But the Roxy story is not all about apparel. In fact, Roxy attributes a lot of its success to its booming accessories business. Accessories (which includes footwear) accounts for 35 percent of the brand’s overall business.

Shoes, sandals, suncare, glitter, lip gloss, nail polish, perfume, mouse pads, key chains, watches, back-to-school supplies — the Roxy accessories list goes on and on. Each segment has been a success and there’s still more room for growth within the category, says Hild. Other companies have dabbled in accessories, but none have such an all-encompassing stab at it.

Jackson says Roxy’s jump into the accessories world was meant to further distinguish the brand from the rest of the juniors’ market. Every brand was offering a complete sportswear line, so accessories were the next step, a natural evolution.

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“If you want to grow, and you want to create a brand for the girls, it starts with apparel,” says Jackson. “We made a conscious decision that T-shirts could only be ‘X percent’ of the business. That forces you to build your knit-top business, your sweater business, or your pants business, and develop those other product classes.

“That’s where it all starts and the line extensions come from seeing an opportunity,” continues Jackson. “You can build your business without having to open a lot of new accounts. We prefer to stay with our account base and build that way.”

Of course Jackson and Hild are quick to say that some of the brand’s success in accessories was a fluke. “It was calculated, but also — and I hate to sound like it’s naive — we kind of stumbled on it,” says Hild. “We did this floral print luggage. It was just this fun and goofy thing, and it blew out at retail. Then we added a few more pieces — wallets, coin purses, and all the little things you could put in a luggage category — that blew out as well. Now we have a ten-piece luggage line and the stores this last holiday season couldn’t get enough of it.

“Again, that’s the power of Quiksilver,” continues Hild. “The company’s radar is so sensitive that once we spot a trend we take advantage and jump on it right away.”

The Benefits Of Diversity
The accessories category allowed Roxy to grow its presence at the retail level, and the benefits are twofold: it helps Roxy present its entire brand story in one package and allows it to grow without blowing out its distribution. “We follow the Quiksilver distribution road map,” says Jackson. “It starts with the surf market, and we concentrate our focus on that. We’re conservative about our growth plans in the mainstream market because you’ve got to do it at the right time. Our thing is to take our growth slower and more carefully and do more line extensions with the accounts that we’re in — rather than opening up everybody.”

Limiting distribution also strengthens the brand’s imaging. The success of accessories has given Roxy more shelf space in shops and allowed Roxy to convey its complete brand story.

“Shops are a very valuable place to tell your story,” says Hild. “When girls walk in and make a buying decision, they’re influenced by all the pictures, graphics, bamboo, and pink wood. The goal is to make her want to be part of this.”

Marketing Moves
Roxy defined the surf girl in 1995 with Surf Girl Oahu — a book it released as a marketing tool. Back then Roxy defined the surf girl as natural, athletic, tall, tan, skinny, happy — someone who rode longboards at Waikiki.

This year, Roxy stepped away from the coast with an edgier campaign shot in shot in Palm Springs. The teamriders are still there, but the surfboards aren’t. Roxy’s is also showing more skin than ever before.

“It’s sexy,” says Hild. “There are shots we wouldn’t have rWe’re seeing twenty-, 25-percent growth, and it caught us by surprise. We planned a little bit of growth, but this is going beyond our expectations.”

Diamond In The Rough
But the Roxy story is not all about apparel. In fact, Roxy attributes a lot of its success to its booming accessories business. Accessories (which includes footwear) accounts for 35 percent of the brand’s overall business.

Shoes, sandals, suncare, glitter, lip gloss, nail polish, perfume, mouse pads, key chains, watches, back-to-school supplies — the Roxy accessories list goes on and on. Each segment has been a success and there’s still more room for growth within the category, says Hild. Other companies have dabbled in accessories, but none have such an all-encompassing stab at it.

Jackson says Roxy’s jump into the accessories world was meant to further distinguish the brand from the rest of the juniors’ market. Every brand was offering a complete sportswear line, so accessories were the next step, a natural evolution.

[IMAGE 3]

“If you want to grow, and you want to create a brand for the girls, it starts with apparel,” says Jackson. “We made a conscious decision that T-shirts could only be ‘X percent’ of the business. That forces you to build your knit-top business, your sweater business, or your pants business, and develop those other product classes.

“That’s where it all starts and the line extensions come from seeing an opportunity,” continues Jackson. “You can build your business without having to open a lot of new accounts. We prefer to stay with our account base and build that way.”

Of course Jackson and Hild are quick to say that some of the brand’s success in accessories was a fluke. “It was calculated, but also — and I hate to sound like it’s naive — we kind of stumbled on it,” says Hild. “We did this floral print luggage. It was just this fun and goofy thing, and it blew out at retail. Then we added a few more pieces — wallets, coin purses, and all the little things you could put in a luggage category — that blew out as well. Now we have a ten-piece luggage line and the stores this last holiday season couldn’t get enough of it.

“Again, that’s the power of Quiksilver,” continues Hild. “The company’s radar is so sensitive that once we spot a trend we take advantage and jump on it right away.”

The Benefits Of Diversity
The accessories category allowed Roxy to grow its presence at the retail level, and the benefits are twofold: it helps Roxy present its entire brand story in one package and allows it to grow without blowing out its distribution. “We follow the Quiksilver distribution road map,” says Jackson. “It starts with the surf market, and we concentrate our focus on that. We’re conservative about our growth plans in the mainstream market because you’ve got to do it at the right time. Our thing is to take our growth slower and more carefully and do more line extensions with the accounts that we’re in — rather than opening up everybody.”

Limiting distribution also strengthens the brand’s imaging. The success of accessories has given Roxy more shelf space in shops and allowed Roxy to convey its complete brand story.

“Shops are a very valuable place to tell your story,” says Hild. “When girls walk in and make a buying decision, they’re influenced by all the pictures, graphics, bamboo, and pink wood. The goal is to make her want to be part of this.”

Marketing Moves
Roxy defined the surf girl in 1995 with Surf Girl Oahu — a book it released as a marketing tool. Back then Roxy defined the surf girl as natural, athletic, tall, tan, skinny, happy — someone who rode longboards at Waikiki.

This year, Roxy stepped away from the coast with an edgier campaign shot in shot in Palm Springs. The teamriders are still there, but the surfboards aren’t. Roxy’s is also showing more skin than ever before.

“It’s sexy,” says Hild. “There are shots we wouldn’t have run a couple years ago — just because maybe it wasn’t quite wholesome enough. But it’s not blatant, it’s not Guess jeans.”

Boiled down, Roxy’s marketing efforts involve two targets: the ‘core and non-’core. At the ‘core level Roxy advertises in Surfer, Surfing Girl, and Wahine. It also hosts a series of surf camps on both coasts and sponsors the Roxy Surf Jam on Tavarua — the first girls-only professional surf contest.

On the mainstream side of the equation, Roxy runs ads in national magazines such as Seventeen, Vogue, and Teen People. Last summer, Roxy’s outdoor marketing campaign included two city buses wrapped in the Roxy theme and 50 telephone booth kiosks from Malibu to San Diego.

Both levels of marketing are equally important to the brand. The ‘core side is crucial to Roxy because specialty shops still make up the majority of Roxy’s business — 70 percent of it. But the mainstream is where Hild sees the most potential for growth, not only for Roxy, but for the entire surf juniors’ market. That’s why Roxy is beefing up its mainstream marketing efforts to include outdoor advertising in cities such as Seattle, Boston, Dallas, and New York. It’s even considering TV spots.

“The national ad campaign and all the media attention we’ve been getting is starting to cook right now,” says Hild. “Roxy’s a new brand in Dallas — they’ve just heard about it in the last couple of years. I think the girl who’s sixteen in Dallas is just getting turned on to our brand.

“We see room for growth particularly in U.S.A’s Heartland,” continues Hild. “There’s great growth opportunities for all the surf industry — but particularly juniors’ — off the coast.”

One way Roxy’s is reaching out to the Heartland is through its partnerships with large, non-endemic corporations. Last year Roxy teamed up with Toyota to co-brand the Roxy Echo, a pricepoint econobox that’s designed to appeal to the teen market. The car was introduced at the 2001 Los Angeles International Auto Show to rave reviews.

The move was bold. “It took a lot of effort to keep it this ‘core and a lot of negotiating with Toyota,” says Hild. “We had to make sure our image and identity wouldn’t get damaged. But because we did that, a broad audience gets to see the Roxy brand.”

The Outsiders
Just as Roxy markets to the mainstream, it also has the pleasure of going toe-to-toe with major brands like Gap, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren.

“We look at them brands like Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren as a little bit of a role model,” says Hild. “We watch them and listen to them, see how they promote their brands, and where they’re positioned in the market for growth potential. But we’re also really careful — we don’t want to be them.”

So what’s the main lesson Roxy’s learned from outside fashion world? “That girls get bored very quickly,” says Jackson. “She wants something new. She wants the next generation of what’s working now. You can’t go back to the wall too many times. When they get on a certain category you can run with it, but it’s got to be new, fresh, and innovative. This is more risky, because if you’re wrong, you’re really wrong.”

Dartez, who oversees the design of the entire Roxy line, brings the point home: “You can get lost in the juniors’ world trying to be something you’re not. The great thing about Roxy is you know exactly who that girl is. So when I shop the market or I see a fabric I always have that girl in my head.”

Just The Beginning?
Can Roxy’s amazing run last forever, and can other surf juniors’ brand enjoy such success? Hild says yes.

“We’re maybe two-thirds the size of our men’s brand,” says Hild. “We see it, however, as a bigger category than men’s, and one day soon it’s going to surpass the size of our men’s business — that could happen in just two to three years.”

Hild sees the same potential for the rest of the surf industry. “WWhat we have is so much better than they the major fashion brands have,” says Hild, “What’s Hilfiger? It’s a name of a guy and he just made up the lifestyle. But the surf industry has a real story. Everyone in our ads — or anybody in any surf company’s ads — they’re the real participants, they’re the real surfers. There’s a real sport and a real lifestyle behind it. It’s not artificial.

We look at it and say, ‘Now there’s our opportunity,’” continues Hild. “Let’s stay true to that. Let’s leverage that, and let’s never lose it. Because if we can to grow our lifestyle while entering the Hilfiger and Polo world a little bit, we have the potential to be even stronger, better, and greater in the bigger picture. We’ve got this real story behind us. It’s got substance, it’s got history — the industry’s only 30 years old. The whole industry’s uniquely positioned to take that story and run with it.”a couple years ago — just because maybe it wasn’t quite wholesome enough. But it’s not blatant, it’s not Guess jeans.”

Boiled down, Roxy’s marketing efforts involve two targets: the ‘core and non-’core. At the ‘core level Roxy advertises in Surfer, Surfing Girl, and Wahine. It also hosts a series of surf camps on both coasts and sponsors the Roxy Surf Jam on Tavarua — the first girls-only professional surf contest.

On the mainstream side of the equation, Roxy runs ads in national magazines such as Seventeen, Vogue, and Teen People. Last summer, Roxy’s outdoor marketing campaign included two city buses wrapped in the Roxy theme and 50 telephone booth kiosks from Malibu to San Diego.

Both levels of marketing are equally important to the brand. The ‘core side is crucial to Roxy because specialty shops still make up the majority of Roxy’s business — 70 percent of it. But the mainstream is where Hild sees the most potential for growth, not only for Roxy, but for the entire surf juniors’ market. That’s why Roxy is beefing up its mainstream marketing efforts to include outdoor advertising in cities such as Seattle, Boston, Dallas, and New York. It’s even considering TV spots.

“The national ad campaign and all the media attention we’ve been getting is starting to cook right now,” says Hild. “Roxy’s a new brand in Dallas — they’ve just heard about it in the last couple of years. I think the girl who’s sixteen in Dallas is just getting turned on to our brand.

“We see room for growth particularly in U.S.A’s Heartland,” continues Hild. “There’s great growth opportunities for all the surf industry — but particularly juniors’ — off the coast.”

One way Roxy’s is reaching out to the Heartland is through its partnerships with large, non-endemic corporations. Last year Roxy teamed up with Toyota to co-brand the Roxy Echo, a pricepoint econobox that’s designed to appeal to the teen market. The car was introduced at the 2001 Los Angeles International Auto Show to rave reviews.

The move was bold. “It took a lot of effort to keep it this ‘core and a lot of negotiating with Toyota,” says Hild. “We had to make sure our image and identity wouldn’t get damaged. But because we did that, a broad audience gets to see the Roxy brand.”

The Outsiders
Just as Roxy markets to the mainstream, it also has the pleasure of going toe-to-toe with major brands like Gap, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren.

“We look at them brands like Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren as a little bit of a role model,” says Hild. “We watch them and listen to them, see how they promote their brands, and where they’re positioned in the market for growth potential. But we’re also really careful — we don’t want to be them.”

So what’s the main lesson Roxy’s learned from outside fashion world? “That girls get bored very quickly,” says Jackson. “She wants something new. She wants the next generation of what’s working now. You can’t go back to the wall too many times. When they get on a certain category you can run with it, but it’s got to be new, fresh, and innovative. This is more risky, because if you’re wrong, you’re really wrong.”

Dartez, who oversees the design of the entire Roxy line, brings the point home: “You can get lost in the juniors’ world trying to be something you’re not. The great thing about Roxy is you know exactly who that girl is. So when I shop the market or I see a fabric I always have that girl in my head.”

Just The Beginning?
Can Roxy’s amazing run last forever, and can other surf juniors’ brand enjoy such success? Hild says yes.

“We’re maybe two-thirds the size of our men’s brand,” says Hild. “We see it, however, as a bigger category than men’s, and one day soon it’s going to surpass the size of our men’s business — that could happen in just two to three years.”

Hild sees the same potential for the rest of the surf industry. “What we have is so much better than they the major fashion brands have,” says Hild, “What’s Hilfiger? It’s a name of a guy and he just made up the lifestyle. But the surf industry has a real story. Everyone in our ads — or anybody in any surf company’s ads — they’re the real participants, they’re the real surfers. There’s a real sport and a real lifestyle behind it. It’s not artificial.

We look at it and say, ‘Now there’s our opportunity,’” continues Hild. “Let’s stay true to that. Let’s leverage that, and let’s never lose it. Because if we can to grow our lifestyle while entering the Hilfiger and Polo world a little bit, we have the potential to be even stronger, better, and greater in the bigger picture. We’ve got this real story behind us. It’s got substance, it’s got history — the industry’s only 30 years old. The whole industry’s uniquely positioned to take that story and run with it.”stry. “What we have is so much better than they the major fashion brands have,” says Hild, “What’s Hilfiger? It’s a name of a guy and he just made up the lifestyle. But the surf industry has a real story. Everyone in our ads — or anybody in any surf company’s ads — they’re the real participants, they’re the real surfers. There’s a real sport and a real lifestyle behind it. It’s not artificial.

We look at it and say, ‘Now there’s our opportunity,’” continues Hild. “Let’s stay true to that. Let’s leverage that, and let’s never lose it. Because if we can to grow our lifestyle while entering the Hilfiger and Polo world a little bit, we have the potential to be even stronger, better, and greater in the bigger picture. We’ve got this real story behind us. It’s got substance, it’s got history — the industry’s only 30 years old. The whole industry’s uniquely positioned to take that story and run with it.”