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Quiksilver makes skate denim push

By Jennifer Zerrer
June 29, 2009 6:00 AM

Quiksilver has been stirring up a buzz about its new line of denim inspired by skateboarders.

This month the company rolled out the line, which includes denim, T-shirts, accessories and flannel.

Quiksilver said it worked with its skaters - Reese Forbes, Alex Olson and Danny Garcia - to design the jeans, which have a technical spin to make them more breathable and stretchy than regular denim.

Quik denimThe jeans are being sold at board shops for $75 a pair, putting them among some of the higher priced denim at these stores.

I caught up with Keith Eshelman, Quiksilver product marketing manager, and got some details behind the new line.

He gave good insight about why the company decided to launch it, who inspired it, what makes it different, marketing plans and why he feels customers will pay $75 a pair at a time when everyone's watching their dollars.

Why did Quiksilver launch the new denim line?

We developed a collection of clothing that caters to our skate team and supports the styles of apparel they want to wear. The denim is the foundation of the line and we worked with Reese Forbes, Alex Olson, and Danny Garcia to create signature jeans that were both fashionable and functional.

Each rider got a unique fit, fabric and style along with a CoolMax fabric that is more breathable than normal denim with moisture wicking and stretch properties.

Also, Quiksilver has been making jeans since 1991 and we have some great experience in the category so it makes sense for us to utilize our history in denim.

We are getting incredible feedback on the signature CoolMax denim. It's nice when our team is hyped on the denim as well as retailers who we've seeded out the product. Quik denimEven someone like Salman Agah (is) telling us, "They are the best pair of jeans I have ever skated in."

What does the line include?

The collection includes tees, wovens, fleece, flannels, jackets and some accessories that all complement the denim. It is built and engineered for skateboarders. Again, the denim was developed with specific details in mind to really make the signature jeans engineered for skateboarding.

Some key skate specific features include: Reinforced back hems to help avoid blow-outs and provide longer wear; heavy thread and triple stitching for seam strength; reinforced bar tacks in high stress points for less rips; rubber coated buttons and rivets to avoid snags and skin punctures; and special crotch gusset to allow more room for movement

What is the design aestheic behind the new line?

We are going for a cleaner look. The line is really shaped by what our riders want to wear. Reese, Alex and Danny all have a unique style and specific requirements for the line so we let them lead the charge.

Are there challenges to launching a new denim line in this economy? What are they and how are you handling it?

Quik denim ReeseBecause of all the special features packed into the jeans our pricing comes in on the higher tier in boardshops, especially when the private label shop jeans come in at an incredibly low price point.

But the features and overall value in these jeans is compelling and specifically constructed for skating. You also see many other signature skate jeans around the $70 price point and they don't have the technical fabric and features so we are delivering a superior product really.

How are you marketing the new line of denim?

We launched an online campaign in the form of a viral video, called "The Spot."

This video is a new take on the traditional skate video. We had our signature denim professionals Alex, Danny and Reese, along with other Quiksilver teamriders Tony Hawk and Kyle Leeper do a bunch of tricks in front of a green-screen; skating green painted quarter pipes, rails, boxes and flat ground. We then had a production company help us build a Web site. We had a normal skate video begin playing, out of which our team riders skated, and began skating the different page elements. This was a great tool for driving traffic to our Web site and informing consumers about our skate collection.

Otherwise, we have been sending out a lot of promo pairs because we feel that the product Quiksilver denimcan speak for itself. We've got a cool collection page on quiksilver.com/skate, and a great ad campaign running around the denim in the mags and online.

We did a product giveaway promotion with Thrasher around our sponsorship of the "Back to the Berg" contest. We are doing POP for our retailers and also are working with a couple other skate brands to do a "gear for a year" promotion.

Is there anything you'd like to add about the line?

There is a lot more to come. We are exploring using more technical fabrics and pushing the envelope in design. We're just getting started.

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