Quiksilver


Surfing's biggest, richest, and most successful company; maker of surfwear, wetsuits, and all manner of surfing accessories; founded in 1970 in Victoria, Australia, as an offshoot of Rip Curl wetsuits, by Torquay surfer Alan Green. The Quiksilver name was lifted from acid-rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. Green himself designed and drew the logo.

Quiksilver's original signature product was a scallop-legged line of surf trunks ("boardshorts," in Aussie parlance), and the first run sold out. Green went through some early business partners, then hooked up with Torquay surfer John Law, and in 1976 they licensed the brand to Hawaiian pro surfer Jeff Hakman and University of Southern California business school graduate Bob McKnight, who began producing Quiksilver trunks in Southern California. Five years later, Quiksilver USA's annual sales were approaching $5 million—not the biggest bottom line for a surf company, but heading in that direction, fast.

Quiksilver Europe was established in 1984; licensees were soon set up in Brazil, Japan, and South Africa, among other nations, and by the end of the decade, new lines were developed for skiing, snowboarding, windsurfing, and skateboarding. With some notable exceptions (including the exploding-color Echo Beach line in the early '80s), Quiksilver has produced a refined, handsome, easy-to-wear line of clothes. Quiksilver Wetsuits were introduced in 1990.

The company's marketing department has for decades been without equal in the surf world. Teamriders over the years include world champions Wayne Bartholomew, Tom Carroll, Lisa Andersen, Kelly Slater, Layne Beachley and Stephanie Gilmore, and freesurf demigod Dane Reynolds. (Carroll's five-year contract with Quiksilver, signed in 1986, made him the first million-dollar surfer; Quiksilver began paying Slater something close to $1 million a year—another first—in the mid-'90s.) In 1994, Quiksilver team riders won the men's and women's pro surfing world tours (Slater and Andersen), the pro longboard tour (Rusty Keaulana), the men's world amateur title (Sasha Stocker), as well as snowboarding and sailboarding world titles (Bertrand Denervaud and Robbie Naish, respectively).

Quiksilver also developed and produced some of the sport's most memorable surfing contests, including the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave event at Waimea Bay; the Quiksilver Pro (with versions in France, Java, and the Gold Coast); and the Quiksilver Airshow World Championships in Sydney, Australia. The year 1999 brought the launching of the Quiksilver Crossing, a seagoing effort designed primarily to discover, surf, and photograph uncharted waves 21 degrees north and south of the equator. The one-off Quiksilver Pro New York, held in 2011 and offering $1 million in prize money, remains the richest-ever surf contest.

Quiksilver subsidiary brands have performed well over the years, especially Roxy, the company's 1991-founded entry into the women's surfwear market. A decade later, the Roxy line—originally T-shirts and female-cut boardshorts—had expanded to include shoes, sheets, lamps, luggage, and beauty products, and its annual sales had topped $150 million. Other Quiksilver-owned companies or spin-offs have included DC, Mervin, Raisins, Radio Fiji, Leilani, Teenie Wahine, Hawk, and VSTR. Quiksilver is sold in retail surf shops, major department stores, company-owned retail stores (Quiksilver Boardriders Club, Quiksvilles, and Roxyvilles), and flagship stores in Paris, London, New York, and Singapore. The Quiksilver line expanded to backpacks, boardbags, watches, sandals, and sunglasses.

In 1986, Quiksilver USA became the first publicly traded surfing company. Quiksilver's international sales in 2001 totaled more than $1 billion—a surfworld first. But despite continued strong gains throughout the early-mid-2000s the company was hit hard by the global recession: in 2009, Moody's put Quiksilver on it's "Bottom Rung" list of companies most likely to default on its debt, and at one point the company saw half its stock value disappear in a matter of months.

In 2013, Bob McKnight stepped down as company CEO and was replaced by former Disney executive Andy Mooney; in 2015, not long after Mooney left, Quiksilver filed for bankruptcy, as shares that year dropped 80%.

In 2005, the company launched The Quiksilver Foundation, a charitable group serving various environmental and educational causes.

The Mountain and the Wave: the Quiksilver Story, a company-published coffee table book, came out in 2006. Salts and Suits, a history of Quiksilver, was published in 2010.