He’s already an icon and he’s only 19.
This story first appeared in the April 9, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Ryan Sheckler became a professional skateboarder at 13 and has dominated the sport. Among his credits are first-place trophies at the Gravity Games, the Vans Triple Crown, Slam City Jam and the X Games. Sheckler parlayed that success into a television career and now has a hit show on MTV with “Life of Ryan.”
So for Wicked Fashions, it was a no-brainer to approach Sheckler when seeking to launch an action sports brand.
“There’s a paradigm shift in retail right now toward action sports as trend-setting apparel,” said David Strumeier, senior vice president of marketing, licensing and new business development for Wicked. “When we do something, we want to do it right, so we sought out the number-one celebrity in the action-sports world.”
Strumeier said Sheckler is intimately involved in the line, called RS by Sheckler. “He scrutinizes every concept and has final authority and approval for every design brought to him. If he doesn’t believe it exemplifies authenticity at a value price point, he won’t approve it.”
The action-sports star said he has “always been involved in apparel. Since I was a kid, I have been involved in designing and pushing apparel for skating. Last year I finally decided there was a broader group of kids it needed to hit.” Hence the association with Wicked.
The association with Sheckler marks the first celebrity collaboration for Wicked, which was founded in 1991 and produces the Southpole urban brand, along with Whitetag and A. Prodigee.
Sheckler presented “an incredible opportunity to develop a unique line with someone who is well-rounded, has longevity in the industry and is highly appealing to our core consumer,” Strumeier said.
He called J.C. Penney Co. Inc. the “anchor” for the line, which also will be sold in regional chains such as Bealls and Gordmans and will be expanded to “key sporting goods retailers” for holiday.
Strumeier said Sheckler has agreed to be visible in the promotion of the collection, such as involvement in social networking and a “viral campaign” that will include a contest called “Hang With Ryan” in which the winner will fly to California and spend the day with him. There are major launch events planned for Los Angeles and New York and a billboard will be on display in Times Square.
Strumeier declined to provide a projected volume figure for the line, but said it will be “benchmarked” on the success of the Tony Hawk collection for Kohl’s Corp. Hawk, another skateboarding legend, has had a collection in Kohl’s since 2005. In addition, Target offers a line from Gold Medal snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White.
Skeckler said he will continue his association with core companies in the skate industry, including Plan B and Etnies, noting: “I can still endorse and have signature apparel lines with my skate sponsors like Plan B and Etnies because the consumer price point is totally different. I am doing RS by Sheckler for everyone.” He is also sponsored by Red Bull Energy Drink, Oakley, Mission skin products, Nixon watches and Kicker Car Audio.