The news dropped this morning: Kelly Slater is splitting from Quiksilver, his long-time sponsor, to join Kering. Kelly himself broke the news on his Facebook page. It was then relayed by several surf media, such as Stab Mag and Surf Session, by the ASP, and some others media, like Oyster Mag.
It may sound like an April Fool, but it’s not. I contacted the press department of Kering to get some information: the press officer confirmed that a partnership had been concluded between Kelly Slater and Kering, and that April 1st is the starting day of this partnership. Vincent, who runs the blog Planète Surf, got the confirmation by Quiksilver.
The news just broke, too many things have been said on the Internet, but let’s take some minutes to try to think about this decision.
When ZoSea took over the ASP, I thought there would be some issues coming between some parties: Terry Hardy, who is Kelly Slater’s agent, sits at the board of ZoSea; the latter had some conflicts with Andy Mooney, the CEO of Quiksilver, about the sponsorship of contests; Slater stood in the middle and had to make a move. One of my contacts advised me that there were some tensions between Quiksilver and KS. Do you remember when there were some speculations about Kelly pursuing his contract with Quiksilver last year?
Look at the photo below (taken from this video): do you see a Quiksilver sticker? The only ones are GoPro’s. (As Arnaud wrote in the comments below, the Quiksilver stickers are under the GoPro ones. Mea culpa.)
Since this time, the collaboration between Kelly Slater and Quiksilver started coming to an end or at least, a change. The name of Kelly Slater is almost bigger than Quiksilver. Despite a 23-year support, Quiksilver wasn’t sure to keep Kelly Slater in their team. Things change, and people need to move. It’s all about love between KS and Quiksilver. And you don’t make business with your family.
Moreover, Kelly Slater is still the megastar of surfing. But it won’t last forever, and he had to think about his reconversion. It is well known that he is more and more involved in the fight against Monsanto, as he explains it in the video below.
The lobbying against the GMO is one of Kelly’s new hobby, and his popularity will definitely help him. He is still the same, but his life has changed, his convictions have changed. Surfing is not everything anymore. He has to think about what his life will be made of afterwards.
As Cori Schumacher wrote in a post, there would be some links between Monsanto and Quiksilver. Nothing is sure. But make the maths, and you’ll get it.
According to Kelly’s post, Kering will help him to launch and develop his own brand. That was something he started with Quiksilver (remember VSTR). But it didn’t work due to economic issues. With the support of Kering, Kelly is sure to lead this project among others.
The partnership between Kelly Slater and Kering is a win-win deal. Kering will support Kelly in his various projects (thanks to their financial, management, and logistic resources), and Kelly will help Kering to rise their Sports & Lifestyle department -Puma doesn’t really perform, and Volcom/Electric represent of small part of the turnover of Kering. I am not saying that Kelly alone will elevate the S&L department. But his contribution will be welcome.
Now, let’s see what this partnership will be made of. And I am quite enthusiastic.
Photo credits: Quiksilver, GoPro, Kelly Slater, Morgan Maassen