Owner Ken Roughton of Fenwick Island Surf Shop in Fenwick, Delaware, is certain about surfers’ loyalty to surf apparel. When asked if surfers were buying skate apparel, he answered, “No way.”
Roughton says that in the Northeast, surfers are creating their own style, one that’s different from the typical So Cal model.
Surfers still want clothes that are comfortable and sharp¿especially the older crowd who doesn’t want to shop at The Gap.
Fenwick Island Surf Shop’s top-selling videos are always surf videos, and “Surf shirts always outsell those from skate brands,” he says. The popularity of a shirt depends on the individual print, but overall, Roughton says Quiksilver is hard to compete with.
He does admit there’s a slight crossover among the younger crowd who both surf and skate, but he firmly believes surfers are sticking to their roots and hopes the industry will do the same: “Cutting out the old guys hurts business.”
According to Mark Pugh, owner of K-Coast in Ocean City, Maryland, a new local skatepark has managed to attract surfers, but hasn’t changed the surfer’s identity.
Due to strict and widely despised laws, skateboarding is illegal in the city. So the skatepark allows surfers who haven’t gone skating in a while to practice their skills. “Tons of surfers are skating every day, but they’re still buying surf apparel,” he says.
K-Coast’s top-selling video is Rip Curl’s Chocolate Barrels and Liquid Trips. HIC and Billabong are still the top sellers in the T-shirt category.
The surf labels are also less expensive than skate brands. Skate stuff goes through distributors, says Pugh, and is therefore a few dollars more expensive.
Manager Greg Beck at Surfer’s Supply in Ocean City, New Jersey says a good number of surfers are buying skate apparel, but that the majority are content with the popular surf brands.
He points out that skate fashion and maneuvers first branched off from surfing. Though the two cultures are different, similarities have developed independently¿thus the demand for skate brands. Surfer’s Supply is dedicated to being a ‘core surf shop, but Beck is aware that the two industries feed off each other.
Surfers Supply’s top-selling video is No Destination from Quiksilver. The top-selling T-shirt is harder to gauge, but Beck says it’s definitely from a surf brand.
Len Valenti, manager of Long Beach Surf in Long Beach, New York is also aware of the crossover between surf and skate¿especially from shoppers younger than twenty years old.
Valenti says surfers are mostly sticking with surf apparel. His customer base is ten to 60 years old and family oriented, so he carries something for everyone. But when it comes down to it, surfers are still dressing like surfers.
As for the video top-seller, Valenti says, “It’s definitely Quiksilver’s No Destination,” Quiksilver can also lay claim to the top-selling T-shirt.
John Whalen, manager at The Surf Shop in Kingston, Massachusetts says the majority of its sales are skate related. The top-selling video is the skate magazine 411, and the top-selling T-shirt is “skate-related for sure,” he says.
Whalen also points out that the ‘core surf community is small but dedicated: “You’re either a surfer or you aren’t.”
He adds that a lot of his customers hold nine-to-five jobs and are professionals who stick with Quiksilver and Billabong. But for the most part, The Surf Shop sells a lot of skate and in-line apparel instead of surf-related lines.