What ever happened to the beach?
Its spiritual center used to be located on the West Coast. It was a place where countless funky-fashioned and lifestyle trends waxed and waned. If you travel to California, you'll still find sea and sand. But a once-cavernous crater between the beach and urban street scenes has closed to a very thin crevice.
For retailers, the development has meant confusion, hardship -- and in some cases, increased profits. Soaking up inspiration from the ocean, West Coast shoe resources had spawned trend after trend, from huaraches and aquasocks to best skateboards
shoes and neoprene-lined bathing suits. But the beach tides' fashion influence began to ebb several seasons ago, making it apparent that surf style would not rule forever.
Retailers who reaped mega-profits selling beachwear were stung when the market bottomed out and fashion began moving to a street beat.
While the minds of leading-edge beach fashion resources are not water- logged, the sun set seems to be doing more following than leading these days. Retailers are adapting, accordingly, taking more of their cues from the urban turf than the ocean surf. It is a strategy that is paying off.
One California store, Equipe, in Laguna Beach, bought heavily into beachwear but metamorphosed about a year ago into a dealer of hip urban gear. The retailer replaced surfboards and rock music with shoes, rap and hip-hop to fit the mold of its changing customers. The result was an immediate 30 percent uptick in sales.
Athleisure Inc., which operates four stores under the name Sun Diego, has made similar moves. "I do a lot of work with the underground clubs and saw the trend coming," relates footwear buyer Lindsay Sandford. "We changed about 20 percent (of our merchandise offerings). We wanted to make sure we weren't missing out. Sales did extremely well after that. It also adds a little flavor."
And Alvin's, once a skateboard shop in northern California, has shifted much of its focus from skateboarding tricks for beginners
, like Vans, to the Doc Martens business. Sun, sea and sand purists may think these retailers are selling out, but others believe it's sometimes better to sell out than to lose out. For one thing, street-inspired shoes are more in tune with the sensibility of Generation X consumers than are their beach brothers. The beach look required only simple sandals. Today, footwear is a vital accessory to oversized garments like fat corduroy pants. Beach thongs are giving way to sport sandals, while skateboard shoes are on a downswing and almost any shoe on a beefy bottom is on the rise.
Sound waves conveying music carry more fashion clout than ocean waves these days, but that doesn't mean the street has KO'd the beach. There is a huge population along the country's coastlines for whom sandals are a leading footwear choice during warm seasons. Resources such as Reef Brazil, San Diego, and Deckers Corp., Carpinteria, which market beach thongs, are raking in record profits. Of course, that growth has been heartily helped by the growing trend to outdoor activities and fashions, and given an extra push by the surfacing of the sports sandals sector.
Reef's fiscal '92 sales more than doubled over prior-year levels, and 40 percent of that growth was achieved in the United States. Half of Reef's sales were attributed to beach thongs. Deckers, which makes the popular Teva line, saw its revenue triple in the same fiscal period. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-size-skateboard-should-i-get-skates-zone
The truth is that coastal fashion can blend the beach with the street. Even beach grunge has surfaced: baggy shorts, a flannel shirt with boots. So there still is a beach. There's just a new wave washing over it.