LOS ANGELES — A trio of action sports veterans, including the former head of Billabong’s U.S. division, are collaborating to launch a new women’s surf-inspired fashion line for next spring.
Paul Naude, the longtime director and president of Billabong International Ltd.’s Americas division, who left the business last summer after a failed attempt to acquire it with Sycamore Partners, is partnering with Mandy Fry and Summer Rapp on an ambitious global launch that will cover surf shops, fashion boutiques and high-end specialty chains. Naude, who handles finances and operations as chief executive officer, is launching the venture as part of his new company, Stokehouse Unlimited, which is also introducing a men’s surf brand, Vissla, as well as an eyewear brand, called D’Blanc, this year.
Fry, who worked with Naude for 12 years as Billabong’s women’s design director, and Rapp, who held top design positions at Volcom and Quiksilver, are copresidents of the new brand. They previously worked together at Roxy. The new company is based in the heart of Southern California’s action sports industry in Costa Mesa, Calif.
“It’ll sit in the surf and fashion market,” Fry said. “We’re setting up a cool design studio, where everybody for marketing, design and e-commerce will be. It’ll launch globally on e-commerce. We’ll also have global distributors.”
Because of the simultaneous launch in multiple countries, Fry said they are waiting to announce the company’s name next month, when they expect to finish registering the trademarks. Fry said the planned schedule is to unveil product to retailers starting in July at the Miami Swim show, followed by the action sports-oriented trade fairs Surf Expo and Agenda. The array of swimwear, cover-ups and sportswear — which will all retail for less than $100 — will hit stores in November.