Some surfers are so richly symbiotic with their sponsors that it’s impossible to imagine them any other way. Kelly Slater and Quiksilver. Mick Fanning and Rip Curl. Taj Burrow and Billabong. Bruce Irons and Volcom. But nothing’s forever.
News just broke that Bruce and Volcom have officially parted ways. Thinking back to Computer Body, Magna Plasm or The Bruce Movie, it’s sad to think about and hard to imagine a different sticker on Bruce’s beak, or Volcom without the Hawaiian in their family. Bruce first signed with Volcom in 1991 at age 13, and was an integral part of shaping the company’s success and image.
Back in 2004, when Bruce’s Volcom contract was up for renewal and he was being courted by Quiksilver, he told Stab: “I knew what I had at Volcom was way deeper than that. I’ve been there since the beginning and I knew that I was going to be with them for the rest of my life.”
It’s no secret the surf industry is in a dire place and that almost every big surf company has been forced to make tough decisions. World tour events are being iced (goodbye J-Bay and Rip Curl Search event, Nike and Hurley from the US Open), teams are being hacked and brands are scaling back.
In parting ways, the company has said that, while they’ve had a great run together, it is now in the interest of both parties to go their separate paths: “Bruce has a new opportunity for a fresh start and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.” A Volcom insider also told Stab: “We do love Bruce. Such a bummer. We are all disappointed and this has been a very hard one for the team!”
Volcom was part of Bruce’s image, but he’s no less surfing’s biggest rockstar without them. Remember the flare shoot Stab did with Bruce in the Mentawai’s? Or, the blindfolded Chopes session? They ain’t the last of their kind, either. Two of surfing’s coolest elements (Volcom and Bruce) will always be cool, with or without each other.
A new sponsor will be announced any minute, but rumour will suggest that the prime real estate’s already been filled and Bruce’ll be joining Ian Walsh and Bede Durbidge.
Rather than dwelling on the end, we can’t help but think about how rad the beginning was, nearly 20 years ago. “Richard Woolcott (who’d left Quiksilver to start Volcom) calls my house and offers me this HUGE deal and I’m fucken 13 years old!” said Bruce. “It was fucking big! And my dad was like, “Volcom who? This fucken radical company? These fucken crazy punks at Volcom with their ads flipping people off?” But, the money was too good and we didn’t have any money at home so we had to take it.” – Elliot Struck