Founded in Australia by a group of surfing enthusiasts in 1969, Quiksilver today is a globally operating daughter of the American Boardriders Group. Now, Quiksilver covers the whole range of sportswear, accessories and boardsports equipment.
Garry Wall, Global General Manager of Quiksilver, has been with the brand since 1993 in a variety of key roles. His close connection to action sports goes back to his youth: back then he measured his skills in junior surfing competitions and later as a professional snowboarder at world cup level.
In an interview with ISPO.com, the Quiksilver Global CEO talks about the company and its brand focus, the significance of the 2020 Olympic Games for Quiksilver, sustainability perspectives and the return to ISPO Munich.
Be creative. Boardriders reinvents itself again and again. Find out all about the latest action sports trends at ISPO Munich 2020 and visit Boardriders in hall A4, booth 402.
ISPO.com: If you had to describe your brand in three words: what would they be - and why?
Garry Wall: Quiksilver’s three key values are:
…and these are what I think describe Quiksilver best as a brand. Everything we do as a business fits within these values, and naturally, this season is an extension of these.
Where will this be particularly evident in the products for the coming season?
You will increasingly see sustainability as a key feature across all of our product lines with the heaviest influence on Outerwear, Boardshorts and the new for 2020 Outdoor assortment. We are long term partners with REPREVE recycled and traceable yarns and are about to pass a ¼ of a billion bottles recycled as part of the program. However, we know the environmental challenge is great so we are working in many other ways to make a difference and have a long term sustainability strategy as a business.
We know it’s a subject that consumers are increasingly concerned about, so we try to put a fun and engaging take on a serious subject with our Recycled for Radness campaign. So much of what the media portrays around the environment is negative, but we believe we can positively impact climate change and we want to play a positive role in both our actions and how we engage consumers around the subject.
If we look specifically at some key product initiatives for the season, we have the Highline Pro outerwear designed for the world's most challenging conditions that is spearheading our purpose driven innovation positioning “our best for your best”.
This season we are launching a really exciting new consumer insight driven Outdoor assortment, as an extension of our existing outerwear collection, which has received a positive response in early showings. The collection has unique Quiksilver handwriting to it, but is also focused on key technical elements to make it highly functional.
Then finally we have our High Altitude capsule collection that’s an infusion of 90’s streetwear and Quiksilver DNA, built for life on and off the mountain.
There are rumors that Quiksilver no longer defines itself as a classic boardsports brand. How is the brand currently positioned?
Ah you have to love a rumour! We have always aimed to transform lives through restless adventure and that extends beyond just participation in traditional action sports. Boardriding is at the core of everything we do, but we feel we need to play a role in contributing to youth culture lifestyle through art and performance.
Art and performance fits to the heart of the brand, and as such we have a recording studio at our HQ to engage with music culture, and have just opened a creative space at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains for creative individuals to use and create in.
What role do the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo play for your brand?
Tokyo 2020 will open the sport up globally to new markets and consumers, and we are excited to see what happens during the games. We are not a sponsor, but a number of Quiksilver athletes are already qualified and we have exclusive team uniform partnerships with Japan and a few more countries to be announced shortly.
Traditionally conditions play a huge role in the success of surfing events. So let’s hope the stars align and mother nature delivers for Tokyo 2020.
Beyond the sports themselves, at Quiksilver we have taken Japan as an inspiration in specific projects like the Highline Pro wetsuit. Our vision for this completely innovative suit was to create an incredibly light and flexible 1mm wetsuit that could compete with the warmth of a traditional 3mm suit. We researched and developed this suit for two years, bringing together the craftsmanship and quality of Japan’s finest wetsuit makers - using best in class handmade Japanese neoprene on 9 panels. All of these innovative suits are also handmade in a small Japanese factory.
As a secondary activity, we are also launching a capsule collection in collaboration with renowned Japanese designer Mr Tokolo, who has designed the Tokyo 2020 logos. The whole collection is a nod to Quiksilver’s heritage, celebrating the connection between the mountains, waves and individuals that make up the boardriding culture.
The sports and fashion market is large and subject to constant change. In which area do you currently see the greatest challenges for your brand?
More than ever we need to be building a more adaptable business, as it seems like the only constant is change. We are always implementing more flexible processes to get us closer to the consumer, and to be able to react to real time insights. As part of the expanded Boardriders Group, Quiksilver now has access to world-class business platforms to support our new ideas and initiatives.
It’s no surprise sustainability tops any consumer studies we have conducted. Quiksilver has been actively involved in this sphere for over 20 years, going back to the Quiksilver Crossing boat that was collecting data for the United Nations reef check program. Quiksilver’s playground is the mountain and the ocean, and every day this is being threatened, so we are actively trying to preserve both for future generations.
Beyond Quiksilver’s brand sustainability strategy, the Boardriders group has now implemented a sustainability department that will work across the portfolio of brands on corporate initiatives like the group’s carbon footprint and more.
What are the main reasons for you to participate again as an exhibitor at ISPO Munich 2020?
We want to build our connection with the European Snow & Outdoor community and it feels like a natural fit. It’s been a few years since we attended as exhibitors, and now as the Boardriders group, all brands agreed it was time to return to actively engage with our key partners once again.
The show will be focused on two-way dialogue - so we better understand the needs of our clients and consumers, and they have a better understanding of us in 2020 and beyond. Out of the office for innovation and in the office for execution.