Seven Year Matrimony Between Italo Ferreira And Billabong Comes To An End - Stab Mag

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"When people tell me: “you won this, you’re the best”, I go like: “that’s the past”. Only museums live in the past. Sure, it was awesome at the time and it’s a cool story to tell my kids some day, I have a trophy hanging on a display against the wall. But fuck, I’m much more interested in what I’m living now." Photo by Renato Tinoco

Seven Year Matrimony Between Italo Ferreira And Billabong Comes To An End

Could you name a more unexpectedly fruitful sponsorship deal?

news // Oct 10, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Should you have veered through the catacombs of Instagram today, you would have stumbled across a dramatic chronicle of Italo Ferreira’s time riding for Billabong, shared alongside a brief literary tribute to the brand.

“Closing one chapter of my professional life. I’d like to thank Billabong for being part of my story! It’s been years of a partnership that began in 2016 and has contributed to my career. But as everything in life has a beginning, a middle and an end. This cycle ends for others to begin. Thanks to all the team who were part of this project.”

Though we knew that Italo’s current contract was due to conclude, the whispers we’d been hearing suggested he would be re-signing.

Guess not.

If I was mentally weak, I would’ve given that first left to Medina. But I was like, “Fuck this! It’s just the two of us now”. Gabe usually gets the first wave. But against me things are different.

When Billabong first signed Italo in 2016, he was fresh off his 2015 Rookie of the Year CT season. Though it was apparent that the then 22-year old Brazilian had immense potential, it’s also true that a stellar rookie year doesn’t always translate to long term CT success.

Just ask Morgan Cibilic and Sammy Pupo.

It is thus unlikely that Bong could have foreseen the bleach blonde, gold-medal wearing, sometimes dreadlocked World Champion that would become of the energetic boy from Baia Formosa.

After two quiet years in ’16 and ’17, plagued by an ankle injury and the fearful Round Five, Italo notched event wins at Bells, Keramas, and Supertubos in 2018. Paired with his particularly spirited persona, these victories skyrocketed him to the forefront of World Title talks and Instagram feeds, fueling the momentum that would lead to the fabled 2019 final at Pipeline with Gabriel Medina.

In winning that incredibly momentous showdown — and earning possibly the last World Title we’ll ever see at Pipe — Italo became the third Brazilian World Champ in four years, and in turn anointed himself as a fucking superstar.

The dreadlocks seemed merely a natural progression.

It was very special to win the World Title and the Pipe Masters against Gabriel, of course. Things started going my way in that event, as if it was already meant to be. I remember being locked in my room, listening to music, and telling everyone: “do not come in”. I’d just sit there, praying and being focused. Sometimes after winning a heat I’d take the car and just drive, or go to the beach by myself. I needed to do my own thing and not overthink what was about to go down.

Despite the raw emotions displayed by Italo upon winning his maiden title — including a heartfelt tribute to his recently passed Grandmother — he told us during the filming of Stab In The Dark that the 2019 World Title was in fact not his most prized accomplishment.

“The most important title of my life was the Olympics. Of course my World Title, being my first one, was super important too. But many people have won the World Title over the years. In the Olympics, I had the chance to be the first one. In the future there will be other gold medalists in surfing, but I was the first one. It’s as if God told me: “Here’s your bonus. Your story will be written right here”.

Alongside Italo, Billabong took their own victory at Tokyo 2022, managing to be the only brand who cleverly snuck their logo onto an Olympic surfboard.

Somebody deserves a gold medal in advertising. Photo: Pablo Jiminez/ISA

“We worked within the Olympic parameters on the boardshorts and wetsuits, which was pretty straightforward,” Billabong’s VP of Men’s Global Marketing, Evan Slater, told us. “When Italo won the World Title in 2019, we worked with Timmy Patterson on a commemorative model to celebrate his World Title. The intent was to make it fall within the guidelines outlined by the IOC. So essentially, that’s what we did. The Stoked-Ed model hit the market in January of 2020, and was available online through Timmy, in his shop, and in some of the Boardriders shops. It was also available in Brazil.  We did all the paperwork and submitted everything in 2020 and got it all approved.”

Finally, with the help of Billabong and a team of talented Brazilians, we were able to feature Italo as our first screw-footed Stab In The Dark test pilot — where he caught 63 waves in an hour, landed 66% of his airs, and crowned Channel Islands as the victor.

“You don’t take any of it with you when you die, what remains is your legacy, your story,” he once told us. “It’s how much you inspired other people. And that’s the whole purpose of life.”

“Umm, well… yeah, I may have heard from an unnamed photographer that the surfer was maybe Italo,” Britt Merrick told us, after winning his third SITD.


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