Is surfwear giant Quiksilver going after J. Crew and Madewell? It certainly seems like it from the look of the Huntington Beach-based brand's first ever women's boutique, which opened this week at the Malibu Lumber Yard.
Rather than looking like a classic action sports store, with an industrial design and clothes that scream logos and neon prints, the Quiksilver women's store has a boutique feel, complete with a curated assortment of merchandise from outside vendors such as Will leather goods, Ray-Ban sunglasses, Julie Roffman beaded bracelets and Olukai sandals. And since it's also a surf shop that's beach adjacent, it also has everything you need to hit the waves -- boards, leashes, wax and sunscreen.
Although the Quiksilver women's collection has been around since 2011, and already retails on the Quiksilver website, at surf shops and at better boutiques, the Malibu store represents a major push for the brand, and a blue print for expansion. "It's a pretty strong statement," says Paul McAdam, president of retail for Quiksilver, who hopes to open 20 to 25 more Quiksilver women's stores in the next 3 years. (A publicly-traded company, Quiksilver reported its second quarter earnings Thursday, and revenue from sales in company-owned stores open at least a year grew 6% from the same time last year.)
"I don't think people do curated coastal classic very well, so there's a niche in the market," says McAdam. "People expect us to do this, it speaks to our heritage and DNA." (Quiksilver, which was founded in 1969, also owns the brand Roxy, which skews younger, targeting ages 14 to 18. Quiksilver women's is aimed at ages 18 to 34.)
As for the Malibu store, which sits steps away from fashion destinations J. Crew, Tory Burch and Intermix, "There are a lot of iconic design elements we will use in the development of our other stores --natural elements, the A-frame wood ceiling. This is a good starting point on the journey," says McAdam.
The store was designed by Quiksilver women's head designerJohn Moore and Chris Gentile of the Brooklyn- and Venice, Calif.-based Mollusk Surf Shops. The natural wood space has a calm, cottagey feel with plenty of artsy touches, including a mural hand-drawn by San Francisco-based artist Serena Mitnik-Miller, who has collaborated with the brand on prints, including the zigzag on a maxidress in the summer collection.
Hanging from the ceiling near the cash desk is a primitive-looking, pre-World War II surfboard Moore picked up at a vintage surf swap in Topanga a few weeks ago. "It's amazing to think guys used to ride boards like that," Moore says. Another vintage piece, a red long board from the early 1960s, still has a surfing permit sticker on the side. "Early on, when surfing was first taking off, you were required to have a license to surf," he explains. Rounding out the selection are 7 new boards by San Diego-based shaper Josh Hall.
There is also another kind of board on display. Moore took the inspiration boards from his design studio and re-created them in the store so shoppers could get an inside view into the creatvie process. For example, Quiksilver recently collaborated with retro print company Hoffman California Fabrics on a few piece for the spring collection. Hanging on the wall are the original 1960s-era board shorts that sparked the idea for the new ones stacked on a table across the room. Also on the inspiration wall, an illustration of a sailboat that became a graphic tee, as well as photos of Ali MacGraw, Jane Birkin and Charlotte Rampling. "Classic fashion icons that you don't necessarily see referenced by surf brands," says Moore.
The clothes are cute in a beach weekend way -- a boho fringe white sand-colored crochet top, a chunky white sweater jacket with fringe trim, fleece ponchos, textured heathered-cotton pocket tees, dresses with all-over embroidery of tiny captain's wheels, blouses in seagull prints and gauzy tunics with handpainted stripes. For swimwear, the designers pull prints from the ready-to-wear collections, so the same Mitnik-Miller zigzags from the maxi dress also appear on bikinis. Prices for the line range roughly from $28 to $98.
"We don't pay any attention to trends," says Moore. "In a marketplace that's quickly becoming about fast fashion, it's hard to compete with retailers that can deliver in six weeks. We're trying to offer a great value proposition and tell Quiksilver stories. If they are authentic, they never get old."
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Top photos of the new Quiksilver women's store now open at the Malibu Lumber Yard.
Second photos from the top: Left, Quiksilver Women’s Ambassador and World Champion Surfer Stephanie Gilmore signing posters for fans at the opening of the store Tuesday night. Right, designer John Moore's inspiration board re-created on the wall of the store.
Third photo: Actress Haley Strode looking at a Quiksilver dress in a captain's wheel print.
Bottom photo: Cindy Crawford and her daughter Kaia Jordan Gerber, wearing Quiksilver's Free Bird dress, at the store opening Tuesday night. All photos from Erica Leigh Photography.