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Nike Sells Surfwear Brand Hurley as Beach Wear Favor Falters

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Nike has offloaded surfwear brand Hurley, as consumer favor for beach-based apparel dims.

On Tuesday, Nike said it had reached a definitive agreement to sell the Costa Mesa, California-based brand to Bluestar Alliance, though terms of the deal—which should be complete in December—won’t be disclosed.

The athletic wear giant acquired Hurley from founder Bob Hurley in 2002 as a way to find success where it had otherwise failed in the surfwear category. Now Nike is parting ways with the brand as surfwear struggles to find its consumer.

“We appreciate how Bob and the Hurley team have built Hurley into the world’s most innovative surf brand,” Nike president of categories and product Michael Spillane said. “As we drive increasingly more targeted investment and focused growth through Nike’s Consumer Direct Offense, this change in ownership will allow sharper focus and intentional investment in Hurley’s growth potential.”

What’s unclear now is what that growth potential will actually be for Hurley under Bluestar’s wing, with beach lifestyle brands increasingly losing out to retro streetwear options among the surfing cohort, and athleisure options at the mainstream level. Quiksilver filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and a struggling Billabong got picked up last year by rival Boardriders Inc., which counts Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes among its brands. Last month, New Zealand-based Kathmandu snapped up Australian surfwear label Rip Curl in a deal valued at roughly $234 million.

Bluestar, however, has big plans for Hurley.

“We have always admired the Hurley brand as it has maintained its leadership role and premium positioning in the surf world,” Joey Gabbay, CEO of the brand management firm said Tuesday. “This is a transformative acquisition for Bluestar as Hurley’s international footprint will enhance Bluestar’s reach around the world. We look forward to building upon the existing Hurley network and expanding to additional countries with the deep relationships that already exist within the Bluestar portfolio of brands.”

When Hurley sold his namesake brand to Nike in 2002 after running Billabong North America for 16 years, he told TransWorld SURF Business he was keen to communicate the brand’s message worldwide in a way he expected wouldn’t diminish the brand.

“In our industry the way most brands get international distribution is by licensing their name out. When they do that, a lot of times they lose control of what the brand stands for and that really takes the fun out of it,” he told the publication at the time.

Where the brand will go from here remains to be seen, but the plans are to expand its current offering.

“We see Hurley continuing to evolve into a 360-degree lifestyle brand, with action sports playing a key role,” Gabbay said.

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