The Hurley family, known for creating one of the most recognizable surfwear brands, is embarking on a new business venture.
The purchase was made through Kandui’s new operating entity, Simple Shoes LLC. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Simple was founded in 1991 by Eric Meyer in Southern California with a focuse on classic sneaker silhouettes. The brand gained growth and popularity throughout the 1990s and early 2000s until it eventually went dormant in 2011 after then-owner Deckers Brands discontinued the label due in part to some overlap with its Sanuk acquisition. In 2015, the Simple brand was revived primarily as a direct-to-consumer business when the company’s trademarks were acquired by Denis Ryan, a design-focused shoe industry veteran. Simple currently sells an assortment of men’s and women’s shoes, in addition to flip flops, T-shirts and hats.
Ryan, who also owns footwear design and development group ICB, Int’l, will work closely with the Simple team as both a partner and an owner in Simple Shoes LLC.
“We are really excited about the future of Simple and honored to have a talent like Denis as a partner in this venture,” said Jeff Hurley, Kandui co-founder and CEO, and the son of Bob Hurley. “Simple always had a cool vibe—consumer-focused, no-nonsense, anti-hype way of approaching things. They were way ahead of their time in terms of innovation and sustainable manufacturing practices and prioritized making the right decisions for the benefit of the planet at a time when the masses didn’t necessarily care about lofty concepts like sustainability. We’ve always been fans of Simple and, when this opportunity presented itself, it just seemed like a great fit.”
Bob Hurley added that the company’s “reason for being feels more relevant in today’s mixed up world than ever before.” The Simple brand going ahead will sell a mix of footwear, apparel and accessories that he said will “live up to the Simple name.”
Key members of the Hurley family left their namesake business in December after Nike, which bought the company from Bob Hurley in 2002 for an estimated $100 million to $140 million, sold the company to Bluestar Alliance. The Hurley family reportedly sought to buy back the company from Nike, but were outbid by Bluestar, which currently owns apparel brands such as Bebe, Kensie, Limited Too and Tahari, as well as specialty goods and gadgets retailer Brookstone.
Bob, who remained the company’s brand ambassador at the time of the sale, departed alongside Jeff, who was then Hurley’s chief marketing officer. Bob’s other son, then-creative director Ryan Hurley, as well as son-in-law and head of product Chance King, also left the company.
Under control of Bluestar, Hurley aimed to shift its focus from surf-oriented to a more action sports-driven lifestyle hybrid of surf, skate, snow, arts, music and culture. The objective was to increase Hurley’s market demographic. The company eliminated 56 jobs in February.
Incorporated in March 2019, Kandui Holdings delivered a statement that was vague on details regarding its own positioning, but said it is creating a network of brands and services “to serve the next generation.” This could indicate that more brand acquisitions or launches will follow.
Listed as an apparel company on its statement of information filing with the California Secretary of State office, Kandui said its priority is building long-term brand value for acquired brands, startups and other partnerships leveraging its core competencies in innovation, design, sales, marketing and operations.