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Arbor’s New Kelly Slater Signature Skateboards

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Arbor Sports has teamed up with Kelly Slater to release a signature series of skateboards called the “Slater Series”. This marks two firsts for Arbor: One, this is the first ever signature skate series from Arbor. Two, this is also Arbor’s first ever composite design, which uses a unique blend of environmentally friendly materials, surf heritage, and performance oriented construction.

Arbor Kelly Slater Skateboard

Graphics for the boards are heavily influenced by Slater’s passions for surfing, music, travel, and friends. There are also design features that hint towards Kelly’s eight world championship titles. The boards are 38″ long and 8.75″ wide, a shape that’s loosely based on the mini-guns that Slater surfs at Pipe.

Although longboard skateboarding and surfing have some similar traits and this collaboration is likely to be a good one because of that, I don’t think it’s necessarily a great move when athletes cross promote into sports they aren’t heavily involved in. That would be like Tiger Woods releasing a signature series of tennis rackets. So what’s next; a series of Kelly Slater snowboards or wakesurfing boards?

Arbor says that these boards were recently released but I was unable to find any information about the skates on their website. Why I am not surprised?

Arborkelly slater

Posted in Brands, Skateboarding | 2 Comments »

RVCA Retail Shops

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

RVCARVCA is joining the likes of many other action sports apparel companies by opening branded retail shops across the globe. The first of what will eventually become a major chain, RVCA Retail is opening their flagship store in San Francisco. The 4300sq ft store will open in the arts district on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

RVCA Retail will combine art, music, and fashion in an opportunity for the brand to highlight their individual style within the industry. Along side the latest and greatest RVCA products, select other brands, books, art and music will also make up the store’s products and selections. Now what is really cool is that RVCA team members will play a large role in purchasing products for the store, for example Ed Templeton action as the book buyer. This will give a unique flavor to traditional cookie cutter retail shops that often carry many of the same products.

The store will be two levels and downstairs will be an art gallery that displays new exhibits every 3 months, this will result in 4 major shows every year. In addition the art gallery it will also serve as a place to promote musicians and RVCA athletes.


Posted in Brands | 3 Comments »

Oakley HOLESHOT Watch

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Oakley HOLESHOTToday Oakley announced the release of HOLESHOT, a Swiss-made watch the blends Oakley’s original style with Swiss precision. The HOLESHOT is inspired by Oakley athletes for the active lifestyle of action sports athletes.

There are two editions of the HOLESHOT that will be available. One includes a six-hand analog display with a chronograph that offers the ability to measure cumulative time, intermediate time and split time to a tenth of a second. The second is a reduced-scale version with a three-hand analog display. Both versions of HOLESHOT are made with a durable stainless steel case and a rubber band. A dual-seal crown protects the case against water pressure equivalent to 330 feet (100 meters) beneath the surface.

Oakley continues to innovate and roll out solid new products in both eyewear and other accessories including apparel. Unfortunately they’re an example of a huge company that hasn’t managed to stay ‘core’. That’s what happens when a company goes public and has shareholders to please and can’t help themselves from selling out. To Oakley’s credit, their sales were up 29% in q2, thanks in part to all the ‘barneys’ wearing their shades.


Posted in Brands | 1 Comment »

Go Huge and Stay Core: A Lesson in Marketing from Volcom

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Volcom StoneVolcom once again won the prestigious Men’s Apparel Brand of the Year at SIMA’s Image Awards, it also won the Women’s Apparel Brand of the Year for the first time. If you are not familiar with the SIMA Image Awards the voters are fellow brand owners, so Volcom was voted by their peers and their fellow competitors.

On the ASR blog they talk about how Volcom has recreated the action sports industry and has experienced unbelievable success while still being able to stay core. It seems as though every new brand has some influence of Volcom in it and when they created their business they probably said something to the extent of, “Lets be the next Volcom”, or “We will be the Volcom of Eyewear” or be the Volcom of whatever the product niche is. It is even easy to see Volcom’s design styles recreated in the images of the older more mainstream brands yet they are still not seen as sell outs. They have also escaped the almost certain death of “Selling Out” even though they went public (VLCM on the NASDAQ). I have been a fan of Volcom’s since the beginning, and I wanted to write some thoughts on why I think Volcom was able to go huge and stay core.

Scarcity: In my opinion the most influential aspect of Volcoms genius is scarcity. When Volcom started to grow and show up in shops up and down the coast and inland it was very hard to find the same designs, or even the same designs in a different size. This is because they don’t overprint and they are very careful of who they choose to carry their product. They have test periods where they basically give their left overs and scraps to new shops wanting to carry their brand until they prove themselves. This creates emotions in the consumer to buy on impulse as they don’t know if they can come back and find the same shirt again. It also keeps the company from getting too mainstream as teenagers hate to see others wearing their same gear. Today you can go to any school in America and see plenty of Volcom paraphernalia but I can guarantee you there will be very few if any duplicates.

Not creating scarcity can be the difference between a long lasting brand and a one hit wonder. Look at AirWalk, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s AirWalk killed it, they had good riders, they only sold certain shoes to certain stores, and they were doubling their growth almost on a monthly basis. You couldn’t go to a High School without seeing the suede AirWalks with the jagged soles. Then they got greedy and they started distributing through large general retailers like Mervyns and other “Sell Out” outlets and the next thing you know AirWalk is more of a thought in the past then a brand (they are pretty much Payless Exclusives now). Call me superficial but I stopped wearing Hurley and Quicksilver when I saw them at Costco.

Know Your Audience: Volcom’s mantra since inception has been “Youth Against Establishment.” Their designs say it, their riders say it, everything they do shows it. If anyone has milked anti authority to the bone it is Volcom. They chose to appeal to youth, which happens to be the big purchasers in Action Sports as well as the evangelists. Youth is also the future and it ensures longevity in a brand when a younger group grabs hold of it. It also creates more buyers in an older demographic as they want to feel young and be seen as cool by the youth around them.

If companies can figure this out it becomes very easy to create marketing material as they set guidelines for themselves. In Volcom’s case the guidelines are there are no guidelines and that is a large playing field for product creation.

Innovation: It is always better to be known as the best for a specific trade or skill rather than a “Jack of All Master of None.” Volcom gained a following because their designs were innovative and they were good, they were creative. I’m almost certain they brought back the front print design when (early – mid 90’s) Action Sports was plagued by the business card logo over the left breast with a large design on the back. I remember buying a shirt that had the biz card logo on the back over my right shoulder blade and the large image on the front, and people used to say, “Your shirt is on backwards” and I was stoked to tell them, “actually no, the shirt was designed that way on purpose.” You were different when you wore Volcom shirts and that is why everyone was and is fanatical about them. Volcom’s CFO Doug Collier has coined the term, “consistently inconsistent advertising.”

Stickiness: Every brand needs to stick, you need to create something that connects with people on a different level then what your competitors are registering. You need to create something viral so people feel compelled to promote it for you. Volcom is a crash course on stickiness. Their designs and slogans are very unique yet they are familiar and so clever that they connect with you. When you see someone wear a Volcom shirt you haven’t seen it creates conversation and makes you feel you need to go get another one from the newly released line.

Evangelists: Their Riders couldn’t have been better chosen, they are all some of the most innovative and creative players in their space and they are perfect representatives for the companies brand and mission. Shaun White, Bruce Irons, Geoff Rowley, Mark Appleyard, Shawn Barron, need I saw more these guys are changing their sport (see full list here). Having a good and talented team is essential and just as Jordan sold a lot of Nikes these guys are helping with the spread of Volcom.

Branding: If you can break your brand down into one image or thought you are far better off then most companies in existence. You become easier to share and recognize and thus you will experience far more branding and mind share. Volcom did this when they created the “Volcom STONE.” You don’t really get what it is right off the bat, it becomes whatever you want it to be, and it is very easy to recognize. You don’t see cars with VOLCOM on them you see the stone sideways and you know exactly what it is and what it means and you automatically know about that person driving the car.

From: Fool on the street

“Collier’s anecdotes traced the Volcom Stone’s appearance in very personal manifestations: tattoos, doodled art, and frequent stories of young people with bedroom murals featuring the Volcom Stone. (Regarding Volcom tattoos, Collier said, “We see this on a regular basis.”)”

Whether you think it or not Volcom will go down in the History books for exceptional branding and marketing, they have reinvented the wheel a million times over and have an influence in almost every mainstream clothing brand. There is something to say about a company that caters to hooligans while grossing over $280 million a year.


Posted in Brands | 9 Comments »

Staunch: Scotland’s First Surf Clothing Brand

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Staunch ClothingWill Beeslaar and Duncan Forbes have launched Scotland’s first surf clothing brand called Staunch. They developed Staunch to create a home-grown surf label that represents the people of modern Scotland.

The idea was born when the pair worked together at a marketing agency several years ago. Feeling like a tourist wearing foreign surf labels, Will and Duncan started creating t-shirts with designs that represented their surf adventures.

We always felt a little odd wearing Aussie surf brands, you end up feeling like a tourist in your own clothes. Initially we started making t-shirts for a laugh, creating designs that reflected our surf adventures. Staunch the brand is a natural progression for us. We are offering a home grown alternative to the global surf brands. A celebration of modern Scotland and all it has to offer.

Staunch ClothingStaunch is focused on producing unique limited editions for each design and making quality products that their friends would be proud to wear.

We’re not interested in churning out meaningless graphics, there is a story behind every one of our designs and developing this story is the best part of the process.

Right now Staunch is limited to just t-shirts. However, they are in talks to develop more technical surf gear and have even been approached about designs for a range of surfboards.

I like the idea of Staunch filling a need by producing the first label for the sport in their country. I know from experience that Scottish people are very prideful and I’m sure they will be happy to support a brand from their country. Because of this I think Staunch will enjoy moderate success but I’m not expecting them to become the next Volcom anytime soon.


Posted in Brands | No Comments »

SABRE Vision, Because There isn’t Enough Eyewear Companies

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

SABRE VISIONIt seems nearly every company offers some sort of eyewear line nowadays, there is definitely no shortage of Big Black Square glasses with the option of turtle shell or white frames. That doesn’t seem to be stopping SABRE Vision from making headway as a company focusing solely on eyewear goods.

SABRE Vision is a Glasses Company with surf, skate and rockabilly mixed in and they have quickly become the eyewear of choice for many celebrities and fashion magazines. A lot of their designs are totally unique in shape and colors while others are a new twist to an old look. They have a new school design style to them like RVCA or GRN Apple Tree and are doing a very good job at promoting through influential athletes and media outlets.

Some of their Riders include Christian Fletcher and Grayson Fletcher as well as Tom Knox and Koby Abberton. They are following the same promotion as other new companies that are making headway in that they sponser bands and artists as well becoming more of a lifstyle product rather than something skate boarders wear.

I found out about SABRE Vision last year around October 06 from an ad in Transworld Surf, I quickly turned to Google and found that they didn’t rank for their name, so I emailed them and said I would help if they hooked it up with some free gear. They said yes and asked what kind of recommendations I had, I told them and they did a bunch of them and I have still yet to receive a free pair of Glasses let a lone a box of gear. They still don’t rank for their name if you search SABRE Vision Eyewear or other variations like that. They also aren’t taking advantage of ranking for their riders names as that would be very easy and it would bring additional traffic and branding. I can guarantee there are a lot of searches for Grayson Fletcher right now due to John from Cincinnati airing on HBO.

Unfortunately they have also copied every other Action Sports product company by creating a company blog on Blogspot. Seriously are you kidding me? Blogspot really? Is it that hard to install Wordpress on your site? How bout we get that box of gear coming my way so I can help you out and blow your traffic and branding through the roof? I want some White Sundays!

SABRE Vision

Posted in Brands | 5 Comments »

Tavik and Surfrider Take Green Issues to the Pump

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

SurfriderTavik and Surfrider have partnered up to air a public service announcement at gas pumps about the importance of clean beaches and a clean environment. The PSA is set to be broadcast on more then 500 gas pump TVs all over the west coast. The spot will run regularly throughout the summer and over the next few years.

The problem with this campaign is that I don’t think it will effectively reach the right demographic at the right time in order to make the intended impact. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for going green and nothing gets under my skin more than a dirty beach or litter floating past me as I’m waiting for a set. I just don’t think gas pumps are the right place for this kind of ad. A message that talked about alternative fuels and the evils or big oil would be much more effective. But then again they’d also have a snowballs chance in hell of showing up at a gas station.

The point I’m trying to make is this campaign would probably have a better effect if it reached people as they were participating in some kind of beach/ocean related activity. Regardless, this is a valiant effort from both Tavik and Surfrider and they deserve credit for doing the right thing and trying to make a positive impact.

Surfrider foundation

Posted in Brands | 2 Comments »

Oakley Special Edition Artist Eyewear Series

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

There seems to be some very common trends happening in the apparel industry lately. One that I’ve noticed recently is companies collaborating with artists to launch limited-edition collections. Today Oakley jumped on that bandwagon with the announcement of a new limited-release eyewear series called the Oakley Artist Eyewear Series. The series is a focused extension of the company’s SQUARE O collection. It includes custom design treatments by influential artists, musicians and designers from around the world.

Oakley SquareThe collection features unique Oakley designs that are inspired by the lifestyles of its athletes as well as their cultural influences including music, art and fashion. Oakley president Colin Baden says.

Influential artists, musicians and designers will use some of our most sought-after frame styles and contribute original graphical frame treatments, imaginatively rendered logos, and logo icons formed from special materials to create unique eyewear editions.

Oakley has also developed a proprietary multi-layer print process to achieve the highest level of graphic resolution possible. Each of the artist series will be available in limited quantities and only available at exclusive retailers. Oakley expects to release an ultra-exclusive Collectors Edition once every quarter.


Posted in Brands | 2 Comments »

Nixon Lodown: Special Edition Watch for Jack’s 50th Anniversary

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Nixon LodownNixon joins the likes of DVS, Billabong, and O’Neill to collaborate with Jack’s Surfboards to release special edition products for Jack’s 50th anniversary. The special edition watch from Nixon, called the ‘Lodown‘, features a gold plated case and buckle with a custom engraved caseback.

The watch also sports a slick tide chart for 200 beaches programmed for the next 15 years. Other features on the watch include dual time, alarm, countdown timer, wave counter, chrono and light. This watch is exclusive to Jack’s on is on sale now for $170.00.


Posted in Brands | No Comments »

Follow the RVCA Skate Team Across Canada

Friday, July 13th, 2007

The RVCA skate team is touring across Canada this summer on snowmobiles and dog sleds. They’ll also be camping in igloos and hunting seals. The tour kicked off today in Vancouver and ends in Quebec on July 22nd. I guess that means its only a week long tour and not the whole summer, bleh.

You can follow the team on their blog where they’ll be making daily updates.

By the way RVCA: What’s up with the blogspot blog in an iFrame? And where are the RSS feeds? That’s a rant for another day and another post though.


Posted in Brands, Skateboarding | No Comments »

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