The crew at La Jolla Group, which own the license to design and manufacture O'Neill, Lost and Metal Mulisha clothing, have hinted lately expansion was coming.Toby Bost, CEO of La Jolla Group. Photo courtesy of La Jolla.
I interviewed CEO Toby Bost a few months ago at the company's Irvine offices, and he said La Jolla was definitely looking to grow. Then at a few recent events, he intimated some news might be on the way.
Now it's here. La Jolla said early this morning it will try to rejuvenate the once high-flying Rusty brand, founded by surfboard shaper Rusty Preisendorfer. Rusty clothing was a hot seller in the 1990s then stumbled toward the end of the decade. Currently, it's not much of a player.
While it's hard to breathe new life into brands that have lost their luster, it can be done. Vans is the best example. The skateboard shoe brand in Cypress has a turbulent history but is now on fire in core skate shops and in larger stores.
When talking to me about growth, Bost said it would be easy to plug other brands into La Jolla's infrastructure. All the back end operations are already in place.
In a statement announcing the deal, Bost said his team will help Rusty stand out from competitors.
"Rusty has a devoted consumer following and we are ready to develop a product assortment that is on trend and has a degree of differentiation from the other brands in the top tier," he said.
Charlie Setzler was named president of Rusty North America. Currently, he is vice president of sales for O'Neill Clothing.
La Jolla acquired the North American license from R. & Everything Else Inc., which now owns the Rusty brand worldwide.
There might be more acquisitions in La Jolla's future. Bost told me adding a skateboard brand would be a natural fit as the company looks to broaden its action sports base.
Here's a link to the story I wrote about Bost in May for OC METRO.