Scenes From A Reinvigorated Surf Expo, Stab In The Dark All Stars' Premiere, and Acid Test Microdose
Is that the scent of fresh surf industry blood?
In the early-2000s boom era, Surf Expo was perhaps the biggest bro-brah orgy the world had ever seen.
Fat on mainstream cash, Industry Big Boys (IBB) rented entire fucking amusement parks to entertain and lubricate their eastern seaboard retailers. Trucker-hatted Right Coasters filled Islands of Adventure and other dingy Orlando staples, alongside visiting international stars, to see whatever band or film Volcom or ...Lost had kept under wraps until January.
Stab's 4pm daily happy hours taxed more than a few of these.
Alas, this year's Expo felt, well, different. Not rowdy, so to speak, but it had a little of its skip back in its step.
After the September show's cancellation due to an imminent hurricane strike, January's Surf Expo had a lot riding on it, considering the uncertainty sitting in the surf industry's gut, with Hurley's sale and corporate gutting, Rip Curl under new management, and Quik and Bong still learning how to live as a corporate overlord's symbiotic step-children. Of course, those harsh realities—corporate takeovers, departmental creative cannibalism, surf teams being gutted to bare bones, budget cuts and layoffs galore—aren't reserved exclusively to the fattest cows in the industry herd.
But you could faintly catch the scent of fresh fruit on the vine amongst the rot in Orlando.
The Billabong Compound.
Pandemonium at the ...Lost Booth.
Banks' Tom Goad walking a lucky lady through their Summer and Fall 2020 offerings.
The Roark boys had some all-terrain military vibes going, and one of the most handomely utilitarian lines at the show.
Amongst the day-glo tourist-shop nightmare, Banks' booth was an aesthetic haven of what the crew over there refer to as "Don Draper On Sunday," stylistically speaking.
See, the new blood was where the pulse was, upstarts like Banks, Roark, Dark Seas, Otis, Katin, Black Summer, Salty Crew, etc. Those bustling booths reflected a core loyalty amongst the Eastern Seaboard's finest shops.
Actually, a special tip of the hat goes out to CJ Hobgood and the Salty Crew boys, who threw the only party worth mentioning all week—a full-on rager at Lafayette's that didn't end until the doors of the Orange County Convention Center were practically opening the next day.
These guys still know how to throw a party!
Salty Crew absolutely destroys it on the East Coast. Surprised? You shouldn't be.
While the major players in the lens game went big, the boys at OPtis went methodical, nabbing a booth by the Buddy Brew coffee in The Neighborhood zone.
While it wasn't the classic blow-out, three-day bender of the early-Aughties, at this important pivotal moment at the beginning of a new decade, the energy was refreshing, whether from upstart clothing and footwear labels, or board brands like Panda, AJW, WRV, and especially the ...Lost booth, with Mayhem and Reola pulling out all the stops. Partnering with POSCA, the once-Japanese Import-Only paint pens that the two's brand famous, they even had Myrtle Beach's finest Drew Brophy on-hand to lend some ink to fresh white ...Lost blades.
There's still plenty to look at (if you're specifically a women's swimwear buyer on the Atlantic or Gulf/Caribbean, etc.).
For our part, we were handed Cinema Lounge duties, playing a handful of our favorite Stab films through the day and premiering Stab In The Dark All-Stars and a teaser from the Electric Acid Surfboard Test.
Look below and click through above for some images from the three-day industry gabfest.
Stab in the Dark All Stars streamed all day for anyone needing a fifty-minute respite from the small talk.
Attendees enjoying an Acid Test microdose.
We have no idea what's going on here.
Bing's Matt Calvani took home the shape-off.
They make guys take their shirts off and model swimwear, too!
Surf Expo's inimitable host with the most Rod Tomlinson.