LOS ANGELES — A sexy siren is emerging from the surf.
This story first appeared in the February 28, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A month after Mandy Robinson Fry and Summer Rapp revealed their intention to launch a new women’s surf-inspired fashion line for next spring with former Billabong executive Paul Naude, the designers are unveiling the name, inspiration and first looks for their venture.
Amuse Society, as the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based brand is called, hopes to appeal to a woman aged 16 to 30, bitten by wanderlust and enamored of both the rock-star life and beach vibe. Its branding mantra is “beach vida bling.”
“She has the salt and the street in her blood,” said Rapp, who is copresident along with Fry. “There is a rebellion to her. She’s not a sweet girl who the industry is used to.”
RELATED STORY: Sports Veterans Launching Surf Line >>
Amuse Society could help revive the volatile action sports industry, which has been rocked by financial instability at established companies. Quiksilver has been shedding brands in an effort to cut costs. After welcoming a new chief executive officer, Billabong International’s investors recently approved a $360 million refinancing deal provided by U.S. hedge funds Oaktree Capital Management and Centerbridge Partners. Earlier this month, Fox Head Inc. named Nick Adcock, the former global president of DC Shoes, as ceo, replacing Pete Fox, the son of the company’s founder.
With metallic high-waisted knit shorts, beaded sweatshirts and striped bikinis retailing from $40 to just over $100, Amuse Society is mapping a retail reach that will circle the globe from the get-go. It’s already lined up distributors in Canada, Australia, South Africa, Europe, Japan and South America, and it aims to land in U.S. retailers including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Urban Outfitters, Planet Blue, NastyGal.com, Shopbop.com, Diane’s Beachwear and Jack’s Surfboards.
Amuse Society’s ambition is backed by experience. In addition to Fry and Rapp, who headed the women’s design divisions at Billabong and Volcom, respectively, Naude, the former head of Billabong’s U.S. division, is handling finances and operations as ceo. The women’s brand is part of his new company, Stokehouse Unlimited, which is also premiering a men’s surf brand, Vissla, and an eyewear line, called D’Blanc, this year. Amuse Society declined to disclose estimates for sales.
The Web site and Facebook and Instagram pages for Amuse Society will go live Friday. Twitter and Pinterest accounts will be added in the future. Certainly, social media may be the best way to reach its meandering muse.
“The target girl is someone just exiting college and someone who has the ability to now go travel and be a gypsy,” Fry said.