It's about life - not "lifestyle"
The Hurley debacle, probably the second most controversial event in the recent history of commercial surfing-related interests (the ongoing unease with foreign-made surfboards remains number one), has had a chance to be thought through for a couple of months now. Somewhere around the time the sale of Bob Hurley's namesake company to sports giant Nike was announced I vented spleen about a trip to a semi-local surf shop, hurling, if you will, the invectives "Nike" and  "sellout" to the shop manager while not quite feeling myself. I was laughing all the way, but it was amazing how many people emailed me to also express their disenchantment with the notions of a non-surfing corporation entering the surf marketplace.

Tom Sterne, from Third Coast Surfboards, sent me a link to a Texas news story about the sale of most of Pat MaGee's surf emporiums to what amounted to a garment merchant, and I think that article illustrated the crux of this hubub. It was fine for a long-standing surfer to make good on hard-won business assets, but very sad to read the lack of surf background or interests of the new owner - he was essentially interested in getting t-shirts on the racks before Spring Break, not at all the soulful mix of surf and commerce which Tom had described as MaGee's original place of business. This seems to be the key issue in the resistance to the Nike purchase of Hurley sportswear.

I'd like to point out that Bob Hurley approached Nike, presumably negotiated with them to a price more-or-less of his own choosing, and with circumstances of his own choosing as well. He expressed no interest in leaving the company which bears his name and which he had founded only a scant two years earlier. What he said, and what subsequent movement seems to bear out, was that he wanted to expand his operations without losing any control of the whole operation. And expand he has - into a record label for one thing, which precurses the Quiksilver move into this obvious crossover lifestyle arena.

Literally, Hurley sold to Nike to not only maintain, but to create, a new cutting edge in the sportswear industry.  Let's face it - Hurley the company was worth an estimated $70 million on its own, or perhaps it had $70 million in annual sales. Numbers like that are sometimes beyond my conprehension. That isn't a small business in any way, shape, or form. Bob Hurley might live in a beachfront house in Newport, but David Geffen lives in one in Malibu. We're talking Big Business here before Nike got involved.

The big picture is always going to be about quality and function. There isn't one single element of the contemporary surfboard which is manufactured by a surfer-owned corporation; I seriously doubt Gordon Clark owns the patents on the chemical components which mix together to make his surfboard blanks, and certainly the resins and fiberglass and acetones are all made by big chemical corporations. It's what we do with them that makes them unique to surfing. If you like your Hurley trunks or t-shirts, go ahead and wear them. You won't hurt surfing at all. If, someday, you get a pair of Hurley trunks and they look 1970's Studio 54 Disco and cut off circulation to your legs, and the people who sell or make them don't really give a hoot in hell, well then that's when to cut and run. Right now, at least as far as the sale of Hurley to Nike, you can relax and enjoy the music.
As of September, 2002, there is (nor has there been) any relationship of any kind between and either Hurley or Nike.
Copyright (C) 2002. All rights reserved.