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Terminally Hip

Quiksilver teamrider Tom Carroll
Quiksilver's Bob McKnight, 1977
Gotcha ad, 1988
Tom Curren, 1989 Op Pro. Photo: Mike Balzer
Billabong team, 1984

What was a nouveau riche surfwear CEO supposed to do? Believe in the “grow or die” dictum and start filling those bulk orders for Macy’s and JC Penney? Or stay “core,” knowing that the surfers who made your label cool in the first place weren’t going to hang around once they knew their boardshorts were being worn by the people who shop at Macy’s and JC Penney?

This was the Ocean Pacific dilemma. In the 1970s, Op smashed all surf industry sales records after moving strongly into the department...

Gotcha shamelessly played it both ways. The surfwear company sold gear to department stores from Pittsburgh to Tulsa to Spokane, yet billed itself as the sport's most "core" brand. It worked. For awhile