So we all got a first look at Kelly Slaters latest enterprise Outerknown and I’m pretty sure everyone’s jaws dropped. Not at the minimalist and slick online portal and marketing campaign. Not at the meticulously well-designed men’s collection. Not at the responsible and sustainable methods taken in the creation process. Nope, the single greatest conversation piece for this launch was the price.
$80 tee, $300 sweaters and $125 boardshorts dominated the socialsphere as once carefully groomed followers rebelled against a brand they barely knew and at Kelly himself. The outrage at price and Kelly being a sell out was probably most palpable from his biggest supporter base in the US. After all, this is the land where a standard surf brand tee runs you $20-$30, so while Outerknown’s tees are double the price of an Australian tee, it’s a tear inducing four times more expensive than its US counterparts.
But its ecofriendly/recycled/sustainable and that costs more money right?! yeah but that doesn’t seem to stop companies like Patagonia being in the realms of normal price points. So what’s the deal?
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Maybe it’s our own mistake for assuming Kelly was going to be producing another run of the mill surf brand with some green credentials. After all, he has paired with the Kering group to deliver this, a group that is a luxury lifestyle home to brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. When you blend in MNii’s head honcho designer John Moore, then the pedigree and signs were there from the start for the launch of a high end designer surf label. Which at face value, is actually a very smart move and one that that distinguishes Outerknown in a market of muchness. Sure its outside the means of most surfers but I don’t believe we were ever the intended demographic and maybe that should have been made clear at the start.
Where I do think they let themselves down, was in telling the backstory to each product. Where is the point of difference? Why it is the luxurious item it is and why it is environmentally sustainable. If that is going to be your angle then you might as well use it.
Time will tell if it will be successful or not but for now, it appears Kelly and Outerknown are aiming for a specific niche while endorsing core environmental values. That’s OK in my book
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.