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ASR and Surf Expo Recap

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Back from yet another tradeshow season, this month’s shows focusing on the upcoming Fall 2009 season and back to school fashions. Last go around of tradeshows I reported a noticeable decrease in attendance from both brands and retailers, needless to say with our current economic status, turnout was again less than desirable. Booth sizes have been cut back, details have been minimized, and the normal above and beyond attitude reflected in the booth designs alone have been greatly scaled back. I saw a lot more “pipe and drape” style booths this year, reminding me of days back when ASR was just getting going. Gone were the full production showroom style booths giving out free shwag, beer, and holding concerts. This year it was strictly business.

It was estimated that only 1/3 of the regularly attending exhibitors were in attendance this month, at shows on both shows, Surf Expo in Orlando, FL., and ASR in San Diego, CA. Equally so were the lack of retailers in attendance during normal business hours. This year Surf Expo hosted a preview day, one day earlier than the scheduled show dates, to give a sneak peak at the line. This offered major retailers more of a comfortable and quite experience allowing more time and focus to be paid, a nice new advantage for both brand and buyers. At ASR, something else brands opted to do was create separate meeting spaces outside of the tradeshow space, renting meeting rooms in the convention center, but out of the main floor mix. Upstairs brands such as DC, Reef, and Rusty gave accounts more seclusion which may in fact helped as it brought more attention to them outside of the hodge podge of booths. Notably missing were the big time brands of Quiksilver and Hurley, two huge surf empires that left a void on the show floor as they are usually a major part of the essence of the tradeshows.

Though the shows were smaller and much quieter than seasons and years past, there was a positive feel amongst the quietly shuffling crowds. Business as usual for most of the brands, staying the course and knowing that even though times are tough there is work to be done. We will see what the months ahead bring for the action sports community and what the next round of tradeshows in September will hold.

Here are some pictures from ASR:

Camp recession

Volcom’s Vee-Haw

(more…)

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Quiksilver Pulling out of January ASR Show

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

quiksilverThis is devastating news for ASR as Quiksilver just announced they are pulling all of their brands except for DC Shoes from the January ASR show in Long Beach. This includes both Quiksilver and Roxy in addition to smaller lines such as Quiksilver for Women, Raisins, etc.

Not only is this a direct blow to the bottom line of ASR, but Quiksilver, being the industry giant they are, will undoubtedly set the example for many other action sports brands. With retail sales off 30-60% this year, expect more companies to follow Quik and pull out.

ASR has really been struggling this year in finding ways to make it easier for buyers to attend. This isn’t going to make that struggle any easier. They haven’t really done anything innovative and until they do, that trend will continue going in a direction that hurts ASR.

The media game is changing- combine that with an economy that’s gone down the shitter and brands in our industry will continue to feel these negative effects until they can embrace and adapt. There’s a major shakeup coming and the ones who will end up on top are going to really have to rethink and change their strategies. It will interesting to watch, especially if you like carnage!

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

ASR Reflects Market Optimism as Industry Rises Above Economy

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

ASR, the Action Sports Retailer Expo, wrapped up in San Diego leaving the action sports and youth culture industries energized and optimistic for spring/summer ‘09 business. The three-day industry event brought together nearly 700 surf, skate, swim, snow, moto, lifestyle and street brands, 60 advocacy and environmental groups, 400 members of the media, and 6,000 buyers to conduct the business of action sports.

“The ASR show floor reflected a resilient industry that continues to produce amazing product lines, creative marketing and demonstrates contagious energy,” says Andy Tompkins, ASR Group Show Director. “ASR September attracted the best buyers from across categories, top media and helped keep the dream alive for the entire marketplace. Even in a challenging retail climate, ASR continues to be an important platform for industry sales.”

Retailers Write Aggressive Orders and Exchange Business Information
Although many attendees were concerned with the overall economy; top retailers were committed to a buying strategy. Thousands of retailers attended ASR September and brands reported writing big business.

“The highlight is always the people – and the ideas that they bring,” said Bob Hurley, President of Hurley. “I’ve been doing this show for a longtime and this is the best one I’ve ever been to in every way, the best business, the most fun and excitement. Excitement not only for us, but also for the whole industry. With all of the changes, acquisitions, vertical integration and Internet sales, it isn’t business as usual, but it is more dynamic and consumer driven than ever, which is exciting.”

Retailers utilized ASR to not only write orders, but also to strengthen business relationships, discuss marketing programs, and gather feedback on upcoming products, colors and designs.

“ASR is a good opportunity to network and see my brands,” says Doug Butcher, Owner of Industrial Board Shop that has 18 stores across the mountain states. “I brought out 20 managers this time. Going to ASR is both a motivation tool for managers as well as a way for them to learn about product and meet everyone in the industry in person.”

In today’s specialty retail environment, buyers understand that they need brand education and market insight to stay competitive. “There’s something about being in the trade show booth where you can see the whole line, some of the marketing, the ideas behind product and get the brand story right from the source,” explains Gorio Bustamante, Head Buyer for Evogear, Seattle, WA. “There is no other way to get that scope of information.”

International retailer presence was way up and many retailers including Chris Turck from XLR8R in Orlando, FL made the trip west. “For me ASR is a ‘Must Attend’ tradeshow where I have been able to find fresh new product from start up brands that may not have an opportunity to debut their lines in the Southeast,” he explained. “Additionally, ASR allows me to preview my core volume brands early enough to get a jump start on pre-book deadlines and take advantage of any margin building show specials.”

Footwear Remains a Strong Category for Industry Leaders
Over 60 brands showed footwear and many reported doing vigorous business. To meet the needs of extended footwear production cycles, DC Shoes pushed hard to have a summer line ready to show alongside spring at ASR September.

“Showing summer alongside spring maximized our retailers’ trip to ASR. We did enormous amounts of business during the three days,” said Jeff Pool, DC Footwear Sales Director.

Footwear brands included category leaders such as Reef, Vans, Nike 6.0, Adidas, Converse and DC along with many other up-and-coming brands with fashion, beach and skate roots. “The show seemed busy, some of the brands pulled out leaving even more business for those who stayed,” said Ryan Kingman, Element’s Marketing Manager from outside a booth full of appointments on Saturday morning.

Events Pack Show with Action
The ASR and Seventeen Magazine fashion show was filled to capacity with buyers and media trend-spotting for spring 09 on the high-energy runway. The theme “It’s Electric” showcased popping neon hues for swim and sportswear, mixed with fitted styling and a wide variety of accessories.

Automatic Magazine held its annual Battle of the Shops at ASR on Saturday afternoon. Over 20 of the top retailers in the West brought in teams to compete across various parts of the street course. Pacific Drive’s team took top honors with Pharmacy and Active coming in second and third. Last year’s winner, ZJ’s Boarding House, rounded out the top five.

In the ASR/SIMA Board Builders Pavilion, Billabong put on the ‘Art of Shaping: Hawaii Edition’ to showcase Hawaii’s greatest shapers and raise $40,000 for the Liquid Nation Ball. “The boards became a major conversation piece of the show – it was one of the greatest collections of work from Hawaii ever assembled in one place,” said Royce Cansler, Billabong, Retail Relations Director. The top bid of $10,000 came from Billabong’s Paul Naude for the George Downing Classic Hawaiian Gun.

Debut of Virtue: Powered by ASR
Virtue debuted at the new Hard Rock Hotel, across the street from the Convention Center, and featured 40 brands with lifestyle collections inspired from the cultures of mixed martial arts (MMA), freestyle motocross (FMX), tattoo culture, art and music. The new venue gave this exploding new market its first industry-only event.

Retailers who are just starting to carry products from these brands appreciated a focused environment to learn more about the market. “I picked up a lot of new brands this show; DC and some of the MMA brands including Bad Boy and Sinister,” said Yogesh Patel, Owner of Step Up, Tracy, CA. “Demand in my store is asking for MMA gear. I was happy with Virtue – it gave me a full view of that market in one place, which was great. I found what I was looking for straight away. 90% of the brands were new to me.”

Tapout, who showed at both ASR and Virtue, much more than paid for the brand’s complete presence in San Diego with one walk-up buyer. “Our booth was popping!” said Arika Helton, Tapout Director of Sales. “I had a walk-up appointment who did an at-once order of $500,000 and another sales manager wrote over a million dollars with another account all in one day at ASR.”

ASR returns to San Diego on January 22-24 for the unveiling of summer and fall collections. For more information on ASR, please go to ASRbiz.com

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2008 ASR Recap

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Twice a year the action sports industry comes together to showcase and display what they have in store for the upcoming year. ASR, the Action Sports Retailers tradeshow, brings together not only the big players of the action sports industry, but gives up and coming brands the opportunity to launch their brands to the industries who’s who. One major difference that’s notable this year is the absence of the major footwear companies. Brands such as Sole Technology (Etnies, ES, Emerica), and Globe have opted out of attending the show. Being that ASR is heavily influenced by skate and surf brands, the absence of these brands is quite apparent. But this may be a grand opportunity for other brands to step up and shine in their place. With such a void of the presence, other themes and brands are catching people’s attention.

Noticeable surf brands that were showing what they could bring to the table were your obvious contenders, Quik, Bong, Hurley, Volcom, and Lost. There were a lot of other notable brands that also were making an unexpected presence at the show as well. Smaller brands that focus on surf like Ezekiel, Lost, and Fox all made the push to showcase their spring lines.

Since the main focus of the show is to highlight the spring lines, there was no shortage boardshorts, swimwear, walkshorts, tanks and tees. Bright colors and geometric graphics still prove to hold strong and look to continue through until next year. Neons and fluorescent colors seem to still highlight the slimmer shorter silhouettes of boardies and shorts. Always leading the pack and pushing the envelope with the boardshorts is Billabong. All the boardshorts on display looked to be leaning toward the shorter length, veering away from the standard over the knee boardies that have been the standard in the industry for many years. Jumbo all over graphics, mixing geometrics with animal prints, the Billabong assortment proved to be new and exciting while stilling to their roots as clean and wearable boardshorts.

billabong boardshorts

One notably cool disply on the ASR floor was the Quiksilver compound. They had a total of 4 booths at the show to exhibit their range of men’s, core, and woman’s divisions as well as a full set up for Roxy. Between this massive layout they displayed their timeline in boardshort history. The lounge exhibit held cases of boardshorts from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today to give buyers and visitors a like a brief history not only of what Quiksilver has brought to the surfing community, but how it shaped and set the standard for the industry throughout time. Most interesting of all was to see how the styles of today can truly be accredited to how things use to be as fashion has seem to come full circle within action sports.

quiksilver boardshorts

quik boardshorts

Though the show was much calmer this year, there was nothing subdued about the brands and activity that was still in attendance. It will be interesting to see how the industry moves into the Fall 2009 season. This week the east coast gets a taste of what is to come for the Spring 2009 season as we move to Orlando, Florida for Surf Expo.

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ASR Unveils Packed Events and Seminar Schedule

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Fundraisers, fashion shows, skate and surf contests, seminars, art projects, film premieres and more make ASR the action sports trade event of the summer

San Juan Capistrano, CA (August 20, 2008) – ASR, the Action Sports Retailer Expo, transcends trade event status this September 4th-6th, by pulling together an incomparable three days of action sports industry events and seminars. Not only is ASR where action sports does a majority of its business for the coming season, but also as the place to network with 18,000 peers, while appreciating the unique vibe of action sports.

“The creative energy that the entire industry puts into ASR’s one-of-a-kind event schedule, puts ASR in a category of its own among trade events” says Andy Tompkins, ASR Group Show Director. “We make sure that our events are all located in and around the ASR main show floor, so buyers can maximize appointment time while still taking in the action sports community and educational aspects of the show.”

On the business end, ASR’s 23 free seminars provide a forum where retailers and exhibitors can learn from experts within and beyond the action sports industry. This September features an impressive line up on everything from obtaining financing, merchandising, preventing piracy and retail trends to building skate parks in your community and understanding the MMA marketplace.

The ASR/Seventeen Runway show puts young contemporary apparel and swim in motion twice during ASR. The flirty, fast paced ASR Runway theme “It’s Electric” comes alive on Thursday and Friday, September 4th and 5th, at 2:00 in Hall H.

At the root of all the lifestyle products are the boards themselves. IASC and ASR continue to champion the cause of skateboard manufacturers with a dedicated Skate Hardgoods area. Check out 30 hardgoods brands, discuss new initiatives with IASC and stop by CreateASkate, the mini-ramp, street course and the ASR Beer Garden in Hall A throughout the show.

Automatic Magazine throws down one of the best amateur skate contests of the year, the Battle Of the Shops which will culminate at ASR on Saturday, September 6th from 11AM-4PM. The nation’s top skate shops will be picking their four strongest ams to represent them on a selection of obstacles. Watch ZJ’s Boarding House defend their title in tough competition from Pharmacy, Pacific Drive, Val Surf and many more.

On the surf side of the business, ASR partners with SIMA to put the spotlight on shapers and surfboard materials in the Board Builders Pavilion, which will now sit front and center on the show floor. The “Billabong Art of Shaping, Hawaii Edition,” takes place in the Pavilion where over a dozen shapers including Eric Arakawa, Dick Brewer and Jeff Bushman will showcase the talent of Hawaii based shapers and craftsmen. A silent auction will run for the first two days of ASR with a “live” auction starting at 3PM on Friday, September 5th to benefit the Liquid Nation Ball.

Surf contest action comes to ASR this year with the Vans El Ponto Loco a 2-star WQS event being put on in conjunction with Sun Diego. The contest runs September 3rd-6th up the road from ASR at Ponto Beach in Carlsbad, CA.

Rusty brings out the creativity found in action sports with ‘Random Acts of Art,’ in conjunction with San Diego’s 94.9FM and Scion. Action sports’ most talented graphic artists display original art on Rusty surfboards, while participating in a free hand art exhibition that includes completely covering a Scion xB Hatchback with imagination, color and total freedom. ‘Random Act of Art’ will take place throughout ASR across from registration.

The Action Sports Environmental Coalition, ASEC, highlights the action sports industry’s steps toward sustainability. Stop by the ‘Green Room’ in meeting rooms 12,13 and 14 located on the mezzanine level of the main floor to check out natural product lines from action sports brands, sustainable business solutions and taste natural foods and beverages. Next door to the ‘Green Room’ in room 15A, the Grind for Life Chill Zone returns with an interactive industry-gathering place.

Shopping around for a job in action sports? Malakye.com returns with the Shmoozapalooza on Friday September 5, 2008 from 11AM to 4PM. New job opportunities abound, head up the escalator to meeting room 6B to find the right one for you.

Leaders of the action sports, music and film worlds cruise ASR to see what’s next in the industry, network with them at ASR. ASR September nights are the place to premiere snowboard films, attend the Liquid Nation Ball, see runway shows and hear new music. Check out Nixon’s Party Planner at the show for more details and for a complete schedule of show events please visit www.asrbiz.com.

ASR continues to be the most focused atmosphere for the business of action sports. Free buyer registration has been extended until August 29th!

About ASR
ASR, produced by Nielsen Business Media, is a full service trade show whose goal is to create market and produce high quality trade shows and educational conferences. ASR is the leading action sports industry trade event, bringing together top manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of surf, skate, snow, swim, style, moto and youth culture. Now in its 26th successful year, ASR gathers over 500 action sports brands and approximately 7,000 retail buyers and decision makers two times a year, with spring and summer/fall season shows in San Diego. For additional information regarding ASR, check out ASRbiz.com.

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ASR Trade Show Marred by Tragedy

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

The ASR trade show held in San Diego this past weekend was everything it promised to be and the event itself drew rave reviews from all who attended. Unfortunately and tragically a member of the industry and a precious human life went missing and apparently has ended up deceased.

According to a report published by CBS News, the body of Dane Williams, Huntington Beach local and member of the Hurley marketing department, was found dead in the City Heights section of San Diego, about 20 or so miles from where he was last seen. Dane went missing on Saturday morning around 1 a.m. after attending the ASR tradeshow. Dane was 23. The knowledge of his death comes as a deep shock to all. Going off of what has been reported so far; the disappearance and death seem fairly sketchy, however without a whole lot of information being released at this point it’s best to not even begin to speculate.

Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends as they go through this unexpected tragedy. Rest in Peace Dane Williams.

asr

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