Half-A-Billion Dollars And Eleven Million Pairs: The Biggest Secret No One Knows About Mick
Letter From the Editor: Crack a cold one to Mick Fanning’s true legacy and biggest secret—he’s sold 600mil in footwear.
Morning, you beasts.
“I heard it was $1 a pair!” Kelly Slater tells me, mistaking Mick’s Fanning’s shoe royalties for his sandals*. “My friend came up with the idea, and told Mick to make it his signature, but didn’t work himself into the deal**.”
In 2004, the design team at Reef sat down wanting to introduce a signature sandal to their line with Mick Fanning, that would—perhaps unwittingly, but in all sincerity—“change the casual footwear game forever.”
“I always wanted it, first and foremost, to be comfortable,” Mick said of the sandal’s inspiration at the time. “That’s where they came up with the air pocket, and having good support throughout the whole sandal.”
Of course it wasn’t the technical sole that sent landlocked and coastal bros the world over clamoring for their first pair of slippers. The sandal sold out as thoroughly in suburban malls as brick and mortar, core surf shops—and for one, very obvious, reason.
“The boys wanted to put on a gimmick,” Mick recalled in 2013. “And that’s how the bottle opener came about…”
At the time of this writing, Reef has sold more than eleven million pairs of Mick’s bottle-opener signature slips, with no sign of the model’s popularity slowing down.
At an average retail price of $55—more than most purchasers had ever spent on sandals at the time—the sandal will have netted more than a half-billion dollars in revenue.
The Mick Fanning Sandal is far and away the best selling product to ever come out of the surf industry. At the height of its popularity, the model was available in 19 different colors, 13 men’s styles and 6 women’s. Its numbers dwarf Bruce Irons’ smash hit Oakley’s, Joel Tudor’s joint-rolling Sector-9, and Kelly’s signature K-Fins, by a long margin.
“I think it was just a good timing,” Kelly told Stab. “As signature products happened, they had this idea that fit the lifestyle so well. Right time and place, plus a few wildcard factors. It’s so cool that it came together like that for Mick.”
Interestingly, White Lightning collects a mere $USD0.25 a pair, less than a half-percent royalty on retail price, compared to the 3-5% athletes see on signature products. According to Forbes, in 2016, Nike’s Jordan’s revenues were $2.8 billion dollars, with Michael taking home $110 million in royalties, or around 4%.
While Mick’s royalties total more than $2,750,00 since the sandal’s introduction, he’d be looking at almost five to ten times that, most likely somewhere between $14- and $25-million had he gone harder at the San Diego bargaining table in 2004.
Like many a Vans checkerboard slip-on wearer’s ignorance of who, exactly, Jeff Spicoli is, it’s likely the morning Mick made headlines in 2015, after grappling with a great white shark during live broadcast at Jeffreys Bay, many a frat boy and middle-American bro scratched their heads and thought: Where have I heard that name before.
The answer, of course, was on their feet.
In 2009, Apple’s early visionary Guy Kawisaki told Forbes the Fanning sandal is “one of his favorite “deep” ideas.”
Last year, as the Times wondered if sandals made for acceptable workplace attire, Maxim gushed: “THESE BOTTLE-OPENING SANDALS MIGHT BE THE GREATEST FLIP-FLOPS OF ALL TIME.”
This year, Reef doubled-down on the now-iconic silhouette, launching a new campaign for their Fanning Low, with Mick and young poster boy, Mason Ho, the first campaign for the sandal in over six years (“the sandal sells itself,” a number of ex and current Reef employees admitted).
As Mick slides comfortably into retirement this week, his signature slips sit, 14 years after their introduction, firmly ahead of Adidas iconic black Addissage slips, ahead of Birkenstocks, Nike, et al, atop Amazon’s Best Selling Sandals.
$600mil plus in sales and counting….
Now that’s a legacy.
Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab.
Editor In Chief
*Multiple sources confirm the $.25 royalty, though when Reef later introduced his signature shoe, we’re told the royalty was set at $1 a pair (though the shoe never saw anything near the sandal’s numbers).
**We have no idea if this is true. The patent to the design is owned by South Cone Inc (Reef), and “relates generally to novelty footwear and more particularly to a combination sandal and bottle cap opener and method of using the combination sandal and bottle cap opener for opening a sealed bottle.” We’re told Reef ruthlessly enforces the patent, and rightfully so, fucking geniuses.
Oh, and we’ll just leave this here. Thanks, Fish.
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