Last week it was announced that Kelly Slater’s relationship with Quiksilver would be coming to an end after over 23 years. The athlete had a 100% sponsorship deal with the brand initiated April 1,1990. Slater is partnering up with Luxury group Kering, which is one of the more interesting moves we’ve seen from the action sports world in some time.
Launching his own apparel brand, Slater will be supported by Kering along the way in development and execution. Kering is expected to be a great partner with Slater operationally, helping with sourcing, logistics and e-commerce.
Kelly has once again chosen a fantastic strategic partner who can help him see his vision through. His long relationship with Quiksilver allowed him to develop fully in his sport. Slater was competitive throughout, surfing the best waves around the globe, filming documentaries and films, and travelling to remote places. With Kering, Slater is moving on to his next long-term partnership.
“For years I’ve dreamt of developing a brand that combines my love of clean living, responsibility and style.” – Kelly Slater
A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL PARTNERSHIP
While Kering will be an incredible partner for Slater, Slater is also expected to be a strong partner for Kering. The surfer, who actively advocates on behalf of marine conservation, will serve as an ambassador. Sustainability (economic, social and environmental) is a key value at the company, which also includes Stella McCartney, Gucci, and Puma.
“Because quality is the quintessence of our brands, the challenge of sustainability stimulates us to create products that are more imaginative, longer lasting.”
Kering is pioneering a Group Environmental Profit & Loss Measure that will be considered for each brand. The EP&L measures the environmental impact across the organization’s operations and supply chain, attaching a monetary valuation to each. Many companies are speaking about responsibility, but Kering is perhaps the first to attach a profit figure to it. This will almost certainly drive different and better sustainability-related decisions.
Slater is joining a nice portfolio that will compliment his brand nicely. Kering has a proven track record of nurturing and building new talent – Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney are great examples of this. The company already has their feet wet in the action sports world with the purchase and current turnaround of Volcom. The commitment to responsible design and production is already touted throughout the groups portfolio of brands, but perhaps most recognizable with Stella McCartney who consciously uses alternative materials to leather/fur.
SPORT & LIFESTYLE AT KERING
The Sport and Lifestyle component of Kering’s business is still small at 33 percent of the group’s total, and is dominated by PUMA, the globes number three sports brand, Wholesale represents 79 percent of the sales in S&L, but the group’s retail sales are outpacing the channel (comp retail sales grew 6 percent in 2013). Expanding into new markets and product categories (Volcom launched its first footwear collection in 2013), and knowledge sharing between the brands are expected to be the keys to Kering’s success in sport.
Volcom has been suffering the same way the other brands in the action sports world have. While Kering has yet to prove success with the brand, they are committed to the business. Fueled by solid demographic and social trends, Kering will continue to grow its Sports and Lifestyle portfolio. Kelly Slater’s brand could be a nice way forward: brand and design strength (& growth!) like Stella McCartney / Alexander McQueen, with the global appeal of sports and lifestyle apparel.