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Rhythm started in 2003 and is best known for its surf trunks.
Jye Townend will head up the U.S. effort. Jye has a well-known last name - he's the son of P.T.
I asked Jye, right, and Rhythm General Manager Jamahl Grey this week about Rhythm and why it is coming to the U.S.
Q & A with Jamahl Grey
How would you describe the look of Rhythm apparel?
Jamahl: Bold, colorful and fun. We look for design elements and inspirations that are left of the norm. All Rhythm products are designed and developed by a team with over 60 years experience. My father Peter has been a tailor for close on 40 years, I have been working in the industry for 16 years and my brother, Ryan, close on 10. Peter and I work extremely closely on all fits and pride ourselves on making the best fitting trunks on earth!
We avoid forecasting services and steer away from "trends." We believe that "trends" inhibit creativity. Having said this, we actively research the surf retail business to (find out) what product we can better develop for our retailers.
Where does Rhythm fit into the market in Australia?
Jamahl: I would say that Australia retailers stock at least 75 percent of the brands that are currently selling in the U.S. men's surf apparel category, with a few Aussie labels also. So we are already competing with most brands that we will compete against in the U.S.
Rhythm sits alongside the majors brands on price but offers an easily defined point of difference. (Right, a marketing photo of Rhythm surfer Kieren Perrow).
What are annual revenues?
Jamahl: Come on... We just met!
What is attractive about coming to the U.S.?
Jamahl: Coming to the U.S. presents many new and exciting challenges. Obviously the size of the market is both attractive and impressive. We are very fortunate to have enlisted the help of Jye Townend who has a great deal of local U.S. market awareness and also understands the Australian culture. A perfect mix for Rhythm. (Here's Jamahl with fellow Aussie PT)
What categories will Rhythm start with in the U.S.?
Jamahl: We are starting out with most of the categories we run here in Australia. Our primary product category will always be surf trunks. We will also be launching with a strong walk short line, woven shirts and obviously a solid T-shirt program. Neal Purchase Jr., above, has re-joined the design team and they are really stepping up with some inspired new designs.
What categories and genders is Rhythm in in Australia?
(Photo of Rhythm's headquarters in Australia)
Jamahl: We have just launched our ladies range here in Australia. For the past two years, we have had constant demand from our retailers to introduce this line. We are also getting set to launch Rhythm Denim Line.
Q & A with Jye Townend
Will the U.S. product be different from the Australia product?
Jye: The design and quality of the product will remain the same, but the lines will differ. I spent a couple weeks over at the Rhythm headquarters in Burleigh Heads and went through the past catalogs and samples to hand pick the line that is going to debut at ASR. So it was a mix of their seasons to create our Spring 09' collection.
What regions/distribution channel will you start in?
Jye: The first area I've wanted to get started in is the hub of the surf industry, Orange County. I've hired on a young up and coming rep Justin Hugron, who has been handling VonZipper for the OC area for the past couple years. From here I'm concentrating on getting a solid guy in San Diego and then moving North and East.
Right after ASR I'm heading to SurfExpo to get a buzz going on that side of the coast as well, and try and search out some good reps to take on the brand.
When will the product be in stores?
Jye: Our first ship dates for a full line will be in January of 09'. This will hit stores for spring. But there will be a few select shops that we place stuff in before that. I have some at once stock coming in the next month, so that'll be in those stores ASAP.
How do you plan to market the brand to get the word out to consumers?
Jye: There are a few things Rhythm is doing to get the name out there. We've been placing a few traditional print ads running up into ASR, in BLISS, Surfer and Transworld Business to create a buzz and have people asking what and where it is. Also gorilla marketing always is key, the more you get the name and logo placed around the surf communities and towns the more it becomes a household name. Whether we're helping out a small comp, stickering the local parking lots or having a little party, it all comes back to being a part of the Rhythm program.
Any worries about launching the brand here at such a tough economic time?
Jye: With the economy the way it is right now, it's going to make it a little harder to break out and be an upcoming brand at this rough time. But we're ready for the challenge and so far shops have been pretty receptive. We'll just take it one day at a time and put in the work that needs to be done.