SURF ‘N’ TURF
BE IT A COLLECTION INSPIRED BY A SURFBOARD OR SKATEBOARD, MORE SHOWS ARE TOUTING A WEST COAST LIFESTYLE.
Byline: Rose Apodaca Jones
The battle on the ramp between young skateboarders and the legendary old-timers at ASR Expo’s fall 2002 installment, running Feb. 2-4 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., won’t be the only fight of the season.
Sure, the “Old School vs. New School” contest, which will be emceed by comic Tom Green, will be eagerly watched.
But when it comes to the business of the action sports industry — defined by surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, swim and streetwear — the action in 2002 will take place on trade show exhibition floors.
Buyers during the first quarter of 2002 will have the opportunity to peruse action sports apparel at four West Coast trade shows, double the number of shows in previous seasons.
The arrival of additional action sports trade events will keep the ASR (Action Sports Retailer) show, which kicks off the trade show circuit, on its toes.
As the original West Coast trade event, ASR remains the one-stop shopping excursion with more than 700 brands and vendors and retail representatives from 60 countries, as well as the circus of skateboarding demonstrations, business seminars and unplanned activities that characterize this “live trend show.”
Two weeks after ASR, from Feb. 19-22, action sports apparel vendors will reappear in Las Vegas at the Board Sports area of MAGIC. But industry observers have their eyes fixed on the two back-to-school shows making their debut in March in Orange County, Calif., a suburban enclave located one hour south of Los Angeles.
The first show to be staged is a West Coast edition of DMG World Media’s Surf Expo, which is scheduled to make waves March 11-12 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The East Coast edition of Surf Expo takes place in Orlando, Fla., in September and January. The second show, produced by ASR, is the Back2Skool show, slated for March 19 and 20 at the Waterfront Hilton Resort in Huntington Beach, Calif. Both shows are landing on the West Coast in response to years of market requests for a back-to-school show.
Lori Kisner, vice president of DMG World Media, said she expects Surf Expo to include between 100 and 150 exhibitors to fill between 300 and 400 booths. The show has also assembled a retail advisory panel that assists with the planning of the show.
For its part, ASR’s Back2Skool show is also focusing on writing orders without all the hoopla. Considerably smaller than its February counterpart, the lineup already includes Volcom, Hurley and Osiris. Organizers are hoping to sign 120 booths. “This is our backyard,” said ASR marketing manager Michelle LeBlanc. “We have the history here.”
As vendors and retailers consider which show to attend, concerns over duplication weigh heavily — particularly in these recessionary times.
Still, many in this industry note that the teen demographic that they most cater to is least affected by economic fluctuations, and the business will remain somewhat resilient.
“With all that has happened over the past few months,” said ASR’s LeBlanc, “manufacturers know that it is crucial to unleash the best product and highest energy possible for the February event. Our industry is made up of individuals who function well, if not at their best, amid adversity. The influence created by these companies can energize the industry as a whole and provide an optimistic outlook for the future.”
As economic and trend forces are contemplated at ASR and the other shows, this season will be especially marked by the absence of Court Overin, show director of ASR and vice president of VNU Exposition Sports Groups, who died in November at age 43 of respiratory failure due to pulmonary fibrosis.