"Sorry about the funny day," said Kelly today. "My contract was signed April 1, five years ago, and that’s why it ran out on that day. I wasn’t trying to mess with anybody. And I was gonna surf this contest without logos, so that’s why we had to talk about it." Photo: Trevor Moran
Chas Smith on Kelly Slater's Departure from Quiksilver
Words by Chas Smith
Guess what? Kelly Slater left Quiksilver today for the French arms of Kering, a multinational that owns Gucci, Alex McQueen, Volcom and Puma among others. It used to be called PPR but changed its name because “Kering” sounds like “caring.” Guess who cares? You!
Yes, you have gotten tres busy on message boards mostly posting things like, “Heavy. R.I.P. Quiksilver.” And, “Is this the final nail in the coffin for Quik?” before arguing amongst yourselves if this is an April Fools joke or not.
It is not. And you are wrong, wrong, wrong about Kelly’s departure being bad for Quiksilver. In my legendary opinion, it is their best day ever. First, Kelly is truly old. His tan is still chestnut and his eyes still a piercing blue but he is old and surfing is a young man’s game. His preternatural ability will become more natural, month to month, and yet Quiksilver would have been forced to pay him a king’s ransom due to “legacy” reasons. Kelly Slater just unburdened the mountain and the wave of lots of “legacy.” Second, Kelly is really old. And Quiksilver is, at the end of it all, in the business of selling boardshorts. Old men are a lousy market as they get grumpy about leaving the house so don’t go shopping. It would have been increasingly difficult for the brand to turn a profit on Kelly Slater branded gear. Third, Kelly is very old. Quiksilver can use all the “legacy” money they are saving to sponsor cute kids with megawatt smiles. Like Kelly Slater circa 1992.
And so today is Quiksilver’s best day ever. Their stock is up .36 because investors do not care about sponsored talent. Their books are cleared. Their sun is shining brightly. “Champagne all around!” they scream. “I’ll just take a beer!” Dane Reynolds screams back. They glower and wonder how they can get him to step away too.
But what of Kelly Slater? He says his new Kering brand will focus on “love of clean living, responsibility and style.” Yuck! Yuck! And no. “Clean living” and “responsibility” have never ever equaled “style.” What he really should have done is retired completely like me. Surfing is a young man’s game and I just left it behind for old man’s games like war. Kelly? Would you care to come to the Crimea with me? We will make a striking couple in matching McQueen balaclavas. I will even promise to live cleanly and responsibly if you categorize vodka as a vitamin.