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Could a tough economy offer exciting opportunities?
Some action sports brands seem to look at it that way. Shop Eat Surf caught up with Mary Miller, vice president of design and merchandising for girls at Rip Curl during ASR in San Diego last weekend.
Miller said business used to be fairly easy and everybody took it for granted. Since then, the tough economy has forced Rip Curl to trim down its staff and product offerings and now the company still scrutinizes every decision.
As a result, swimwear, dresses and fashion tops remain a strong focus and make up the biggest part of the business. Denim didn’t fare so well and will likely not be expanded into more styles.
“It really makes you pay more attention to every detail of the business, where every dollar is going,” Miller said.
“I think it makes us do business smarter.”
Miller said she’s been getting good feedback from buyers who found the clothing on trend but also true to Rip Curl’s brand essence.
She said buyers are careful, placing more at-once orders than in the past year, but the company has picked up a few new accounts and grown sales compared to last year.
She said the first two quarters of the new fiscal year look very promising and external sales look to be about double what they were last year.
“We continue to grow our business because we have a clear direction and we know who our customer is and what they’re about,” Miller said.
Sticking to its philosophy is one of the key marketing components for Rip Curl, which like many other brands must deal with competition from Forever 21 and H&M.
“That’s been a challenge for us,” Miller said.
Rip Curl is trying to come up with a way to inject trendy pieces throughout the year, but coordinating the task is complicated for the global company, Miller said.
In the meantime, the company is looking to differentiate itself from other brands and reinforce its core values.
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