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I D E N T I T Y , L I F E S T Y L E S , A N D B R A N D M A R K E T I N G IN

C A N A D I A N WOMEN'S SURFING: A N ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY

by

LISA MERCER

H.B.K., Lakehead University, 2000

A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

M A S T E R OF ARTS

in

T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES

(Human Kinetics)

T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A

December 2006

© Lisa Mercer, 2006


ABSTRACT
O v e r the past decade, w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g has b e c o m e i n c r e a s i n g l y p o p u l a r i z e d i n the m e d i a
and i n a d v e r t i s i n g as a desirable recreational a c t i v i t y and c o m p e t i t i v e sport, and m o r e and
m o r e C a n a d i a n w o m e n are n o w p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n s u r f i n g than ever before ( N i c k s o n , 2 0 0 0 ) .
O v e r the same p e r i o d , w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r has also emerged as a p o p u l a r f a s h i o n trend f o r
C a n a d i a n g i r l s and y o u n g w o m e n ( O s t r o w s k i , 1999) w i t h the result that s u r f i n g apparel is
n o w a g r o w t h industry i n C a n a d a ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 ) . D e s p i t e these d e v e l o p m e n t s ,
h o w e v e r , there remains an acute l a c k o f research o n these trends i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g .
T h e r e are v e r y f e w studies o n the d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and no studies c o u l d
be f o u n d that have l o o k e d at s u r f i n g as a f o r m o f c o n s u m p t i o n i n a c o n s u m e r s o c i e t y
i n f l u e n c e d b y brand m a r k e t i n g .

In an effort to h e l p fill this gap, this study d r e w o n p r i o r w o r k i n c o n s u m e r research b y


Schouten and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) and i n sports subcultures b y W h e a t o n (2000), a n d
a n a l y z e d the r e l a t i o n s h i p between w o m e n ' s s u r f culture i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a and the
m a r k e t i n g activities o f the C a n a d i a n s u r f w e a r industry. S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r
(1995) e x a m i n e d the interplay o f subcultures and m a r k e t i n g a m o n g H a r l e y - D a v i d s o n
m o t o r c y c l e o w n e r s , and W h e a t o n (2000) studied the l i n k between identity and sport and
leisure lifestyles i n a w i n d s u r f i n g c o m m u n i t y . M y thesis research c o m b i n e d their t w o
frameworks u s i n g an ethnographic approach and e x a m i n e d the i m p a c t o f r e t a i l i n g and
m a r k e t i n g o n the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , o n s u r f culture, and s u r f products
consumption.

F i f t e e n i n d i v i d u a l s w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d f r o m three different p o p u l a t i o n s i n western C a n a d a :


w o m e n surfers, s u r f w e a r retailers, and C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d representatives. Through
these conversations, eight factors w e r e i d e n t i f i e d as c o n t r i b u t i n g to the g r o w t h o f
w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a : (i) changes i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y , (ii) c r o s s o v e r
appeal f r o m skateboarding and s n o w b o a r d i n g , (iii) cultural and style influences f r o m
C a l i f o r n i a , (iv) increased d e m a n d for w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f f a s h i o n s , (v) the
g r o w t h o f c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g i n B C , (vi) increased m e d i a exposure o f C a n a d i a n
w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , (vii) d e v e l o p m e n t o f C a n a d i a n s u r f businesses, and ( v i i i ) w o m e n ' s
increased c o m f o r t w i t h the identity o f ' b e i n g a surfer'.

T h e i n t e r v i e w s c o n f i r m e d that the s u r f scene i n C a n a d a is less i n t i m i d a t i n g and m o r e


accepting o f w o m e n surfers than m a n y other locales i n c l u d i n g C a l i f o r n i a . T h e w o m e n
surfers reported a deepening o f c o m m i t m e n t to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e as they a d v a n c e d i n the
sport and it i n c r e a s i n g l y b e c a m e a d e f i n i n g c o m p o n e n t o f their self-identity. T h e y also
reported that their c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f products contributed to their sense o f identity.
T h e study f o u n d that s u r f brands have h e l p e d to fuel the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f l i f e s t y l e s and
products into the mainstream b y e x p a n d i n g product offerings and m a k i n g t h e m m o r e
accessible to the general p u b l i c . T h e thesis concludes that C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g
demonstrates features o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n and m a y best b e thought o f as a
' c o m m o d i t y - o r i e n t a t e d s u b c u l t u r e ' ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 , p. 261) that is d r i v e n b o t h b y a
d e v e l o p i n g w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g subculture (the hard-cores) and b y the market activities
(product d e v e l o p m e n t , w o m e n ' s w e a r b r a n d i n g , w o m e n ' s - s p e c i f i c retailing) o f the m a j o r
s u r f brands.
Ill

T A B L E OF CONTENTS

Abstract ii

Table o f Contents iii

List o f Tables v

Acknowledgements vi

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCTION 1

II LITERATURE REVIEW 6
2.1 H i s t o r y o f S u r f i n g 7
2.2 H i s t o r y o f S u r f i n g i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a 11
2.3 T h e B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a S u r f Scene 16
2.4 T h e E x p a n s i o n o f W o m e n ' s S u r f i n g and the S u r f W e a r Industry 18
2.5 T h e C o n c e p t o f S u b c u l t u r e 22
2.6 C o n s u m e r Research 30
2.7 Sport L i f e s t y l e s , Identity, and C o n s u m p t i o n 40
2.8 M a r k e t T r e n d s : W o m e n i n the Sport M a r k e t p l a c e 44

III METHODOLOGY 51
Rationale : 51
Sample 53
Ethical Considerations 54

IV RESULTS : 55
D a t a C o l l e c t i o n and A n a l y s i s 55
Interviews 55
Participant/Non-Participant O b s e r v a t i o n '. 58
Photographs and F i e l d N o t e s 59
Surf Media '. 59
O r g a n i z a t i o n o f the C h a p t e r 60
4.1 T h e S u r f Scene i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a 61
4.2 Factors F u e l i n g the G r o w t h o f C a n a d i a n W o m e n ' s S u r f i n g 66
i. C h a n g e s i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y 67
i i . C r o s s o v e r appeal f r o m skateboarding and s n o w b o a r d i n g 69
i i i . C u l t u r a l and style influences f r o m C a l i f o r n i a 71
iv. Increased d e m a n d for w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f fashions ..74
v. T h e g r o w t h o f c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g i n B C 76
v i . Increased m e d i a exposure o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g 80
v i i . D e v e l o p m e n t o f C a n a d i a n s u r f businesses 81
v i i i . W o m e n ' s increased c o m f o r t w i t h the identity o f ' b e i n g a surfer' 84
iv

4.3 T h e A p p e a l o f the S u r f C u l t u r e 85
4.4 E v i d e n c e o f C o n s u m p t i o n 88
F e m a l e Surfers are C o m m i t t e d to C o n s u m i n g S u r f T h e m e d Products 88
4.5 E v i d e n c e o f S u b c u l t u r a l Features and C o n d i t i o n s : 90
i. H i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l structuring: F r o m hard core surfers to posers 90
i i . C o r e values and l o c a l i z e d d i f f e r e n c e s 92
i i i . S e l f transformation (deepening o f c o m m i t m e n t ) 94
iv. Rituals 96
4.6 S u r f i n g is a ' C o m m o d i t y - O r i e n t a t e d S u b c u l t u r e ' 98
4.7 L i n k between Identity, L i f e s t y l e s , and C o n s u m p t i o n 102
4.8 D i f f u s i o n o f S u r f L i f e s t y l e s and Products into the M a i n s t r e a m 105
i. T h e ' c o o l n e s s factor 107
i i . T h e industry 108
i i i . W o m e n - s p e c i f i c m a r k e t i n g and sales 110
i v . M a r k e t i n g to j u n i o r c o n s u m e r s 116
4.9 R o l e o f M e d i a i n the D i f f u s i o n o f S u r f L i f e s t y l e s 119
i. Print m e d i a 121
ii. Electronic media 123

V DISCUSSION ...121
5.1 R e f l e c t i n g o n T r e n d s i n the W o m e n ' s Sport M a r k e t p l a c e 128
5.2 R e f l e c t i n g o n T r e n d s i n C a n a d i a n W o m e n ' s S u r f i n g 129
5.3 R e f l e c t i n g o n S u r f B r a n d M a r k e t i n g 131
T h e R o l e o f C o n s u m p t i o n i n R e l a t i o n to O n e ' s Identity 132
T h e D i f f u s i o n o f S u r f L i f e s t y l e s i n the M a i n s t r e a m 135
5.4 R e f l e c t i n g o n S u b c u l t u r a l T h e o r y 138
A N e w G e n d e r O r d e r i n S u r f i n g and the S u r f P r o d u c t s M a r k e t p l a c e 144

VI INSIDER ROLE 147

VII CONCLUSIONS 153


7.1 O p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r Future R e s e a r c h 154
7.2 S t u d y L i m i t a t i o n s 157

Bibliography 160

Appendix I C o p y o f U B C Research Ethic's Board Certificate o f A p p r o v a l 165

A p p e n d i x II R e c r u i t m e n t Letter 167

A p p e n d i x III Consent Form 169

Appendix IV O v e r v i e w o f the R e s e a r c h M e t h o d o l o g y 172


V

LIST OF T A B L E S

T a b l e 1 S u r f B r a n d Retailers 56

T a b l e 2 C a n a d i a n S u r f B r a n d Representatives 57

T a b l e 3 W o m e n Surfers 57
vi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I w o u l d l i k e to extend m y gratitude to those w h o took the t i m e to enjoy this

j o u r n e y w i t h m e . I w o u l d l i k e to a c k n o w l e d g e the support o f the surfers, retailers, and

s u r f b r a n d representatives w i t h w h o m I interacted throughout the course o f this research

and w i t h o u t w h o m I c o u l d not have c o n d u c t e d this research. I a m forever grateful to m y

thesis c o m m i t t e e c o n s i s t i n g o f D r . Robert Sparks, D r . P a t r i c i a V e r t i n s k y , and D r . B r i a n

W i l s o n , for b e i n g open-minded to m y research interests and h e l p i n g m e prepare f o r this

research. M y a d v i s o r B o b has r e m a i n e d enthusiastic throughout this process, and has

c o n t i n u o u s l y supported and encouraged m e d u r i n g the hurdles I encountered a l o n g the

w a y . H i s guidance was instrumental to the successful c o m p l e t i o n o f this project. F o r a l l

those w h o b e l i e v e d i n m e and w h o supported m e I a m most grateful. I a m t r u l y blessed

to have a l o v i n g and u n d e r s t a n d i n g f a m i l y , and a close network o f dear friends. L a s t l y , I

w o u l d l i k e to extend m y thanks to m y colleagues f o r e x p o s i n g me to the s u r f w e a r

industry and g i v i n g m e the o p p o r t u n i t y to g r o w p r o f e s s i o n a l l y a l o n g s i d e them.

F u r t h e r m o r e , I a m most grateful to those w h o lead m e to s u r f and i g n i t e d that same

passion within me.


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CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION

This study analyzes the relationship between women's surf culture in Western

Canada and the marketing activities o f the Canadian surf wear industry. Its objectives are

twofold: i) to critically examine how the marketing o f surf products affects surfing

lifestyles and product consumption, and ii) to describe how surf lifestyles and products,

in turn, become diffused to a larger population o f young women and girls. The study is

intended to enhance our knowledge o f the factors affecting the development o f women's

surfing i n Western Canada and to add to our understanding o f the interplay o f subcultures

and marketing in consumer culture, by illustrating the link between lifestyles, identity,

and consumption. With the rise in popular media portrayals o f women's surfing as an

empowering activity (e.g., the film ' B l u e Crush') and the growth o f women's surfing

over the last several years, it is important to be able to document the social, cultural, and

market conditions and trends driving these changes. In particular, research is needed that

takes account o f the experience o f surfing from the standpoint o f women and gives voice

to their points o f view in addition to the points o f view o f the surfing industry and o f

men. Very few studies to date have analyzed women's surfing lifestyles generally, and

none that I could find have looked at surfing as an activity o f consumption in a consumer

society which is influenced by brand marketing. In addition to providing a multi-

dimensional research perspective, this study is also intended to provide a Canadian

perspective on what is a growing global phenomenon, women's surfing. This study w i l l

provide an improved understanding o f women's surfing subcultures in Western Canada,

the emergence o f Canadian women surfers, and the factors that are fueling the growth o f

the surfing apparel industry.


2

T h e thesis represents one o f the f e w studies that have f o c u s e d o n the i m p a c t o f

r e t a i l i n g and b r a n d m a r k e t i n g o n the g r o w t h o f C a n a d i a n sports, and has the potential to

p r o v i d e insight into the role o f r e t a i l i n g and b r a n d m a r k e t i n g i n the e x p a n s i o n o f

w o m e n ' s sports m o r e generally. T h e rise i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is part o f a larger

p h e n o m e n o n o f w o m e n ' s increased i n v o l v e m e n t i n sports as participants and c o n s u m e r s .

It is w i d e l y d o c u m e n t e d that w o m e n are e m e r g i n g as a distinct and p o w e r f u l segment i n

the sport m a r k e t p l a c e ( B r a d i s h , L a t h r o p , & S e d g w i c k , 2 0 0 1 ; B r a n c h , 1 9 9 5 ; L o u g h , 1996;

S h o h a m , R o s e , K r o p p , & K a h l e , 1 9 9 7 ; Sparks & Westgate, 2 0 0 2 ; Sutton & W a t l i n g t o n ,

1994). Y o u n g w o m e n , i n particular, h a v e b e c o m e an important sub-segment for sport,

sport-related p r o d u c t s , and sport marketers ( S h o h a m et a l . , 1997). W i t h i n the w o m e n ' s

sports context, w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g has i t s e l f b e c o m e i n c r e a s i n g l y v i s i b l e and accepted as a

legitimate recreational and c o m p e t i t i v e sport. C a n a d a emerged o n the w o m e n ' s s u r f

scene w i t h the d e v e l o p m e n t o f the n a t i o n ' s first all-girls s u r f s c h o o l i n 1999 ( N i c k s o n ,

2000). W o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r has emerged as m a i n s t r e a m f a s h i o n ( O s t r o w s k i , 1999), and

s u r f apparel has b e c o m e a b o o m i n g i n d u s t r y i n C a n a d a ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 ) . C a n a d i a n

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g c o m p r i s e s a n i c h e market w i t h i n the o v e r a l l sport o f s u r f i n g as w e l l as

w i t h i n w o m e n ' s recreation and sports m o r e b r o a d l y .

T h e a i m o f the research reported i n this thesis was to d o c u m e n t the i n t e r p l a y o f

r e t a i l i n g and m a r k e t i n g w i t h i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , s u r f i n g culture, and s u r f i n g products

c o n s u m p t i o n , f o c u s i n g on the w a y s that p o p u l a r culture and c o m m e r c i a l culture

interrelate w i t h one another. A f o c u s e d r e v i e w o f recent w o r k o n subcultures, sports

subcultures and c o n s u m e r culture was undertaken to assess the a b i l i t y o f e x i s t i n g

f r a m e w o r k s to account for these interactions. T h e thesis ends up b u i l d i n g o n selected


3

research o n sports subcultures and c o n s u m e r research d r a w i n g o n W h e a t o n ' s (2000)

n o t i o n o f identity f o r m a t i o n t h r o u g h sport and leisure lifestyles and S c h o u t e n &

M c A l e x a n d e r ' s (1995) c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n o f identity e x p r e s s i o n t h r o u g h sport

c o n s u m p t i o n . T h e rationale for this approach is contained i n part i n the h o l i s t i c

f r a m e w o r k that these t w o perspective help to achieve. T h i s has both practical and c r i t i c a l

theoretical i m p l i c a t i o n s . A s K a t e s (1998) notes i n h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f the potential benefits

o f c o m b i n g f r a m e w o r k s f r o m s o c i a l theory, c o n s u m e r research and sport m a r k e t i n g to

study sport, " B y b r i n g i n g the discourses o f c o n s u m e r b e h a v i o r , sport s o c i o l o g y

[subcultural.theory], and sport m a r k e t i n g together, n e w research agenda and n e w

m a r k e t i n g insights [can] r e s u l t " (p. 29). T h e research expands o n the idea o f identity

f o r m a t i o n t h r o u g h sport subcultural s o c i a l i z a t i o n ( D o n n e l l y and Y o u n g , 1988; W h e a t o n ,

1998, 2 0 0 0 ) , and the e x p r e s s i o n o f identity t h r o u g h sport c o n s u m p t i o n ( S c h o u t e n and

M c A l e x a n d e r , 1995), and h i g h l i g h t s the l i n k between identity, lifestyles, and

c o n s u m p t i o n a m o n g w o m e n surfers. A s W h e a t o n (2000) notes, " T h e p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f

different sources o f i d e n t i f i c a t i o n h a v e e x p a n d e d , i n particular the increased s i g n i f i c a n c e

o f c o n s u m p t i o n practices s u c h as sport and leisure lifestyles i n the c o m m u n i c a t i o n and

maintenance o f self-identity for g r o w i n g segments o f the p o p u l a t i o n " (p. 255). Schouten

and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) s i m i l a r l y state, "In o u r c o n s u m e r culture p e o p l e do not define

themselves a c c o r d i n g to s o c i o l o g i c a l constructs. T h e y do so i n terms o f the activities,

objects, and relationships that g i v e their l i v e s m e a n i n g " (p. 59). In their terms, the

relationships f o r m e d as a result o f " a shared c o m m i t m e n t to a particular product class,

brand or c o n s u m p t i o n a c t i v i t y " c o m p r i s e a 'subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n ' (p.43). T h e y

continue that " T h e concept o f the subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n is robust enough to


4

encompass v i r t u a l l y any group o f p e o p l e united b y c o m m o n c o n s u m p t i o n values and

b e h a v i o r s " (p. 59).

In this context, the f o l l o w i n g research questions w e r e p r o p o s e d : H o w does the

m a r k e t i n g o f s u r f i n g products impact surf-culture and its d i f f u s i o n into c o n s u m e r culture?

H o w is s u r f w e a r c o n s u m p t i o n l i n k e d to identity f o r m a t i o n i n female consumers? Four

w o r k i n g hypotheses w e r e also d e v e l o p e d : a) S u r f w e a r c o n s u m p t i o n is an integral part o f

a surfer's lifestyle and identity, b) S u r f brands have e x p a n d e d their lines to reach surfers,

but also to reach female teens and pre-teens, c) F e m a l e teens and pre-teens use s u r f w e a r

to help construct their identities, and d) T h e net effect o f these t w o trends is an increase i n

c o n s u m e r interest i n s u r f w e a r and i n the s u r f brands market.

T h e m a j o r i t y o f research o n sport subcultures has r e c o g n i z e d the i m p o r t a n c e o f

u s i n g ethnographic methods to the study o f sport subcultures (Butts, 2 0 0 1 ; K l e i n , 1986;

Schouten and M c A l e x a n d e r , 1 9 9 5 ; W h e a t o n , 1998, 2 0 0 0 ) . A s W h e a t o n and T o m l i n s o n

(1998) suggest "It is o n l y ethnographic study that can p r o v i d e a c u l t u r a l analysis that

does not just focus o n p u b l i c discourses or texts, but explores the ' m e a n i n g and pleasure

o f these practices to those w h o participate i n t h e m ' " (p. 2 7 0 , c . f , H a l l , 1996, p. 59). The

studies that facilitated i n s h a p i n g this research use i n t e r v i e w s as their p r i m a r y m e t h o d o f

data c o l l e c t i o n and f o u n d this m e t h o d to be quite effective i n g a i n i n g entry into the

subculture and/or furthering an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the culture ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r ,

1995; W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 ) . In S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r ' s (1995) analysis o f the H a r l e y

D a v i d s o n subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n , the researchers i n t e r v i e w e d three a p r i o r i g r o u p s :

riders, dealers, and corporate m a r k e t i n g d e c i s i o n makers. S i m i l a r l y , for the context o f


this study three groups w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d : surfers, retailers, and C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d

representatives.
6

CHAPTER II - LITERATURE REVIEW

In this chapter I r e v i e w recent w o r k o n subcultures, sport subcultures, and

c o n s u m e r culture. T h i s chapter is d i v i d e d into eight sections that c o m p r i s e the literature

that is g e n e r a l l y or s p e c i f i c a l l y l i n k e d to the thesis t o p i c . T h e sections are as f o l l o w s : (1)

H i s t o r y o f S u r f i n g ; (2) H i s t o r y o f S u r f i n g i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ; (3) T h e B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a

S u r f Scene; (4) T h e E x p a n s i o n o f W o m e n ' s S u r f i n g and the S u r f W e a r Industry; (5) T h e

C o n c e p t o f S u b c u l t u r e ; (6) C o n s u m e r R e s e a r c h ; (7) Sport L i f e s t y l e s , Identity, and

C o n s u m p t i o n ; and (8) M a r k e t T r e n d s : W o m e n i n the Sport M a r k e t p l a c e . T h e first

section i n the literature r e v i e w traces b a c k the o r i g i n o f s u r f i n g , its cultural traditions, and

the emergence o f w o m e n surfers. T h e s e c o n d category c h r o n i c l e s the d e v e l o p m e n t o f

s u r f i n g i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a and f o l l o w s the i n f l u e n c e o f C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g pioneers. T h i s

leads into a d e s c r i p t i o n o f the uniqueness o f C a n a d a ' s s u r f scene. T h e fourth section

focuses o n the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and the e x p a n s i o n o f the w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r

industry. S e c t i o n f i v e analyzes the term ' s u b c u l t u r e ' and the vast amount o f literature

s u r r o u n d i n g this concept. T h e next p o r t i o n h i g h l i g h t s s o m e o f the w o r k done i n

c o n s u m e r research and draws o n research done b y S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995)

and W h e a t o n (2000) to situate the f r a m e w o r k f o r this study. T h e seventh section

analyzes the relationship b e tw e e n i d e n t i t y and sport and leisure l i f e s t y l e s , and the

i n f l u e n c e o f c o n s u m p t i o n o n o n e ' s sense o f identity. F i n a l l y , the last area e x a m i n e s

trends i n the w o m e n ' s sport m a r k e t p l a c e and reports o n the i n f l u e n c e o f s p e c i f i c

c o n s u m e r groups i n the sports product market.


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2.1 History of Surfing

S u r f i n g has received little attention f r o m s o c i a l science scholars (Farmer, 1992),

and the l i m i t e d a c a d e m i c research there is has f o c u s e d m a i n l y o n the h i s t o r y o f the sport

( B o o t h , 1995, 2 0 0 1 ; Irwin, 1 9 7 3 ; Pearson, 1979) and its role i n subcultural s o c i a l i z a t i o n

(Butts, 2 0 0 1 ) . M o s t o f the i n f o r m a t i o n that is a v a i l a b l e has c o m e f r o m articles i n p o p u l a r

press m a g a z i n e s , newspapers and trade j o u r n a l s . B o o t h (2001) recently p u b l i s h e d an

article o n the history and g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n t e r n a t i o n a l l y w h i c h d o c u m e n t e d

the setbacks and gains a l o n g the path to increased acceptance o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g .

T h e o r i g i n s o f the sport are thought to be i n the P a c i f i c Islands. H a w a i i a n s and

P o l y n e s i a n s w e r e observed e n j o y i n g s u r f i n g i n the late 1700s ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . T h e first

written account o f s u r f i n g w a s m a d e b y C a p t a i n James C o o k o n a F e b r u a r y d a y i n 1778:

A s h i s ship p u l l e d into K e a l a k e k u a B a y i n the H a w a i i a n Islands, C o o k w a s

a m a z e d to see m e n and w o m e n r i d i n g l o n g w o o d e n p l a n k s across the face o f the

i m m e n s e w a v e s . S h o r t l y after, w i t h the arrival o f m i s s i o n a r i e s , s u r f i n g w a s n e a r l y

eradicated i n the H a w a i i a n Islands u n t i l a r e v i t a l i z a t i o n m o v e m e n t w a s started b y

H a w a i i a n s i n the early twentieth century. T h e m i s s i o n a r i e s h a d associated the

practice o f s u r f i n g w i t h p r o m i s c u i t y and g a m b l i n g . (Butts, 2 0 0 1 , p. 2)

S u r f i n g w a s i n t r o d u c e d to Southern C a l i f o r n i a b y H a w a i i a n G e o r g e Freeth i n 1907, and

to A u s t r a l i a b y D u k e K a h a n a m o k u i n 1915 ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . D u r i n g this t i m e , surfers i n

C a l i f o r n i a and H a w a i i e x p e r i e n c e d extensive f r e e d o m . B y c o m p a r i s o n , s u r f i n g i n

A u s t r a l i a and N e w Z e a l a n d f r o m 1910 to the late 1950s was sanctioned b y the S u r f L i f e

S a v i n g A s s o c i a t i o n , and w a s restricted to s u r f l i f e s a v i n g m e m b e r s o n designated beaches

(Pearson, 1979). C a l i f o r n i a was a centre f o r surfboard e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n f r o m 1920


8

o n w a r d s w h i l e v e r y f e w t e c h n o l o g i c a l i n n o v a t i o n s took place i n the first part o f the

twentieth century i n A u s t r a l i a and N e w Z e a l a n d (Pearson, 1979). A l s o , n o t e w o r t h y

d u r i n g the 1930s and 1940s was the l a c k o f reference to w o m e n b o a r d riders. P i c t u r e s

taken at the t i m e c o n f i r m e d that w o m e n w e r e part o f the beach culture but rarely w o u l d a

photograph show a w o m a n riding a s u r f b o a r d (Booth, 2001).

B y the outbreak o f W o r l d W a r II, s u r f i n g h a d b e c o m e a r e c o g n i z e d leisure

a c t i v i t y o n the P a c i f i c R i m , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the areas o f Southern C a l i f o r n i a , A u s t r a l i a ,

N e w Z e a l a n d , P e r u , and S o u t h A f r i c a . In the w a r years W a i k i k i ( H a w a i i ) was the s y m b o l

o f n e w h e d o n i s m w i t h beach b o y s and w a h i n e s (beach girls). U n l i k e A u s t r a l i a and

C a l i f o r n i a , H a w a i i preserved the pleasure-seeking culture and no restrictions w e r e

i m p o s e d o n b a t h i n g costumes ( B o o t h , 1995). S u r f i n g b e c a m e an o r g a n i z e d sport

f o l l o w i n g the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r ( B o o t h , 1995), and " b e g a n its trek t h r o u g h p o p u l a r

A m e r i c a n culture i n the 1 9 5 0 s . . .[and] t h r o u g h t i m e a particular demeanor, language, and

l o o k . . .developed w h i c h denote[d] m e m b e r s h i p o f the s u r f i n g s u b c u l t u r e " (Butts, 2 0 0 1 ,

p.2). M a l i b u , C a l i f o r n i a b e c a m e a p o p u l a r s u r f i n g spot i n the late 1940s and early 1950s

( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . In the 1950s and early 1960s s u r f i n g w o m e n reappeared w i t h the

emergence o f the lighter, m o r e m a n e u v e r a b l e M a l i b u s u r f b o a r d d e v e l o p e d b y Joe Q u i g g

i n 1950 f o r w o m e n surfers i n M a l i b u ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . In 1956, " G i d g e t " ( K a t h y

K o h n e r ) w e n t to M a l i b u and the f o l l o w i n g year the b o o k w r i t t e n b y her father F r e d e r i c k

K o h n e r , Gidget, was p u b l i s h e d ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . " A t the c u l t u r e ' s apogee i n the 1960s,

w o m e n w e r e l a n d l o c k e d b i k i n i babes or, at best, H o l l y w o o d ' G i d g e t s ' w h o left the h e a v y

s u r f i n g to the g u y s " ( M a r s h , 1997, p. 44).


9

In 1954, the first international s u r f c h a m p i o n s h i p was o r g a n i z e d b y the W a i k i k i

s u r f c l u b i n M a k a h a , H a w a i i ( B o o t h , 1995). W o m e n participated i n this c o m p e t i t i o n u n t i l

organizers subsequently created separate c o m p e t i t i o n s for w o m e n and m e n surfers

( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 ) . O a h u ' s N o r t h S h o r e b e c a m e a s u r f i n g M e c c a o n c e the w a v e s w e r e f i n a l l y

r i d d e n ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . S u r f i n g styles also d i v e r s i f i e d i n the late 1950s r e c o g n i z i n g

r e g i o n a l differences. A s B o o t h (1995) e x p l a i n s , " t w o r i d i n g styles e m e r g e d i n the m i d -

1960s. H a w a i i a n surfers d a n c e d w i t h w a v e s , f l o w i n g i n s m o o t h r h y t h m w i t h their natural

d i r e c t i o n ; A u s t r a l i a n surfers danced o n w a v e s , ' c o n q u e r i n g ' , ' a t t a c k i n g ' , and r e d u c i n g

t h e m to stages o n w h i c h to p e r f o r m " (p. 194). H a w a i i a n styles c o m b i n e d w i t h other p o s t -

w a r s o c i a l changes, s u c h as the rise o f y o u t h culture and car culture i n the 1950s,

transformed C a l i f o r n i a s u r f i n g .

T h e s u r f i n g p o p u l a t i o n i n C a l i f o r n i a g r e w r a p i d l y i n the m i d d l e o f the 1950s

r i s i n g f r o m 5,000 participants i n 1956 to 100,000 surfers i n 1962. C a l i f o r n i a n s u r f i n g

was p o p u l a r i z e d i n H o l l y w o o d s u r f m o v i e s and w o m e n surfers w e r e seen i n G i d g e t

(1959) and T h e E n d l e s s S u m m e r (1964), as w e l l as i n m a g a z i n e s , and s u r f i n g

demonstrations. T h e 1960s brought about the d e v e l o p m e n t o f r e g i o n a l and national s u r f

associations starting i n C a l i f o r n i a and N e w S o u t h W a l e s , A u s t r a l i a . In 1964, various

representatives o f national s u r f associations together f o r m e d the International S u r f i n g

Federation (ISF) and the first w o r l d s u r f i n g c h a m p i o n s h i p was h e l d that year i n M a n l y ,

A u s t r a l i a ( B o o t h , 1995). Surfers r e c o g n i z e d the i m p o r t a n c e o f o r g a n i z e d c o m p e t i t i o n as

b e i n g essential for p u b l i c acceptance. T h e ISF separated m e n and w o m e n into different

c o m p e t i t i o n s , h o w e v e r , the rules that w e r e eventually set up i n 1976 d i d not e x c l u d e

w o m e n from p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n m e n ' s events or v i c e versa ( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 ) . In the late 1960s,


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c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g suffered a relapse as a n e w generation o f surfers shunned c o m p e t i t i o n

and took to the w a v e s as 'soul-surfers' ( B o o t h , 1995).

D u r i n g the second h a l f o f the twentieth century, it b e c a m e i n c r e a s i n g l y evident

that females w e r e b e i n g m a r g i n a l i z e d i n the sport and that a fraternal structure p r e v a i l e d

w h i c h l i m i t e d their s o c i a l acceptance and access. In the 1970s, females w e r e d e p i c t e d i n

photographs i n non-stereotypical, athletic poses that c h a l l e n g e d the gaze o f the m a l e

v i e w e r . H o w e v e r , a r a d i c a l shift b e c a m e evident i n the 1980s as w o m e n b e g a n to be

represented as s e x u a l objects and p h o t o g r a p h i c techniques changed to embrace the

s e x u a l i z e d l o o k , pose, and gaze o f f a s h i o n m o d e l s . W o m e n further struggled i n the

1970s and 1980s to o r g a n i z e their o w n c o m p e t i t i o n s w h i c h s i g n a l e d the d e n i a l o f the

l e g i t i m a c y o f w o m e n surfers ( B o o t h , 2001).

In 1974, w o m e n surfers m o t i v a t e d b y Jericho P o p p l e r f o r m e d the W o m e n ' s

International S u r f i n g A s s o c i a t i o n ( W I S A ) to spearhead the d e v e l o p m e n t o f a p r o f e s s i o n a l

w o m e n ' s c i r c u i t . T h e s e events w e r e l a r g e l y C a l i f o r n i a based and w e r e the first to o f f e r

w o m e n p r i z e m o n e y ( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 ) . In 1976, W o m e n ' s P r o f e s s i o n a l S u r f i n g ( W P S ) was

f o r m e d i n H a w a i i to secure increased p r i z e m o n e y and m o r e events f o r w o m e n . The

W P S set out to s m o o t h relations b etw een surfers, contest directors, and the m e d i a ( B o o t h ,

2001). In 1977 w o m e n c o m p e t e d i n f i v e p r o f e s s i o n a l s u r f i n g events i n A u s t r a l i a , B r a z i l ,

C a l i f o r n i a , H a w a i i , and S o u t h A f r i c a . These f i v e events c r o w n e d M a r g o O b e r g , w h o w a s

fifteen at the t i m e , the first o f f i c i a l p r o f e s s i o n a l f e m a l e c h a m p i o n o f s u r f i n g . In the same

year, M a r g o o p e n e d her s u r f s c h o o l o n K a u a i . In 1983, the A s s o c i a t i o n o f S u r f i n g

Professionals ( A S P ) took o v e r the International P r o f e s s i o n a l S u r f i n g (IPS) and W o m e n ' s

Pro S u r f i n g ( W P S ) circuits ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) . A n o t h e r s i g n i f i c a n t watershed i n w o m e n ' s


11

s u r f i n g o c c u r r e d i n 1986 w h e n L i s a A n d e r s o n , at the age o f 17, turned pro and j o i n e d the

A S P (Gabbard, 2000).

W o m e n s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n s d i d not d e v e l o p e v e n l y around the w o r l d .

C a l i f o r n i a n and H a w a i i a n surfers benefited but A u s t r a l i a n organizers often c a n c e l l e d

w o m e n ' s events and there was a l a c k o f interested sponsors and l i m i t e d p r i z e m o n e y f o r

A u s t r a l i a n w o m e n . T h e distance to other c o m p e t i t i o n s g l o b a l l y and the cost o f travel

h i n d e r e d the a b i l i t y o f A u s t r a l i a n w o m e n to compete internationally. W e l l into the 1990s

w o m e n ' s p r o f e s s i o n a l s u r f i n g r e m a i n e d a p o o r m a t c h to the m e n ' s c i r c u i t ( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 ) .

2.2 History of Surfing in British Columbia

T h e practice o f s u r f i n g i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ( B C ) dates b a c k 4 0 years, and has

been transformed o v e r t i m e into a u n i q u e l y B C experience. B C has m a n y distinct s u r f i n g

c o m m u n i t i e s i n c l u d i n g T o f i n o , U c l u e l e t , J o r d a n R i v e r , and S o m b r i o B e a c h . J o r d a n R i v e r

and S o m b r i o B e a c h are m o r e r e a d i l y accessible f r o m V i c t o r i a ( S h i l l i n g , 2003) whereas

T o f i n o and U c l u e l e t are further north o n V a n c o u v e r Island and are less accessible.

A s S h i l l i n g reports,

B e f o r e 1956 T o f i n o and U c l u e l e t w e r e their o w n islands o n V a n c o u v e r Island

because there was no road t h r o u g h the saw-tooth M a c k e n z i e R a n g e mountains

and across Sutton P a s s . . . A f t e r 1956 there was a dusty, d i r t y and dangerous

l o g g i n g road, and i n 1964 M a c M i l l a n - B l o e d e l L t d . and f e l l o w forest-company

giant, B C Forest P r o d u c t s L t d . , b u i l t H i g h w a y 4 i n exchange for l o g g i n g

concessions f r o m the p r o v i n c i a l government. T h e environmentalists and the

surfers a m o n g the m i l l i o n or so visitors to T o f i n o and U c l u e l e t e v e r y year o w e it


12

to those l o g g i n g c o m p a n i e s f o r getting t h e m out o f the w o o d s and into the water,

(p. 11)

D u r i n g this t i m e , T o f i n o and U c l u e l e t w e r e m a i n l y f i s h i n g and l o g g i n g v i l l a g e s and h a d

not yet b e c o m e tourist destinations (p.30).

E a r l y B C surfers w e r e a d e t e r m i n e d , i n v e n t i v e group and h a d to i m p r o v i s e

materials i n order to fabricate boards to s u r f o n as S h i l l i n g (2003) a f f i r m s :

O n e t h i n g that characterized most surfers i n B C i n the early days was their

w i l l i n g n e s s to s u r f p r a c t i c a l l y a n y t h i n g , f r o m p l y w o o d to glass-over f o a m boards.

W i t h the nearest s u r f shops i n [the state of] O r e g o n , B C surfers h a d to scrounge

boards any w a y they c o u l d . S o m e early surfers tried to m a k e and shape their o w n

boards, (p. 60)

P r i o r to 1995, s u r f businesses i n T o f i n o w e r e not c o m m o n p l a c e . T h e e c o n o m y at

the t i m e w a s not capable o f s u s t a i n i n g them. A pioneer i n T o f i n o ' s s u r f industry. L i v e to

Surf, the first s u r f b o a r d rental business i n T o f i n o opened its doors i n 1984 and s t i l l

r e m a i n s i n operation today.

T h e first International S u r f Contest i n B C was h e l d o n L o n g B e a c h , south o f

T o f i n o i n 1966. T h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f the W i c k a n i n n i s h Inn o n L o n g B e a c h i n 1964 and

the arrival o f s u r f i n g pioneers lead to the i m p r o b a b l e d e v e l o p m e n t o f the T o f i n o and

U c l u e l e t s u r f scenes. T h e o r i g i n a l pioneers w h o l i v e d i n cedar shacks and cabins a l o n g

the P a c i f i c coastline o f f o f V a n c o u v e r Island introduced their c h i l d r e n to the sport

thereby s e c u r i n g the future o f C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g . R a l p h D e v r i e s w h o h e l p e d construct the

W i c k a n i n n i s h Inn was first i n t r o d u c e d to the sport o f s u r f i n g b y s o m e v a c a t i o n i n g

C a l i f o r n i a n s i n 1964, and he c o m p e t e d i n B C ' s first s u r f c o m p e t i t i o n i n 1966 ( S h i l l i n g ,


13

2003). T h e f a m i l y lineage and p a s s i n g d o w n o f technical aspects o f s u r f i n g can be seen

i n R a l p h ' s s o n , Peter D e v r i e s w h o took to the water at a v e r y y o u n g age and became a

sponsored surfer, c o m p e t i n g i n international s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n s . Peter e v e n t u a l l y w o n

the Q u i k s i l v e r / R o x y S u m m e r S u r f J a m 2 0 0 0 i n T o f i n o , B C . In M a y 2 0 0 3 , Surfer

th

M a g a z i n e r a n k e d h i m 94 i n the. h i g h l y regarded g l o b a l r a n k i n g o f the " H o t 1 0 0 " surfers

under the age o f 21 i n the W o r l d ( w w w . B C S A . c a c . f , Surfer M a g a z i n e , M a y 2 0 0 3 ) .

T o f i n o has changed d r a m a t i c a l l y o v e r the years and p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the last decade.

" T o f i n o w a t c h e d its f i s h i n g industry die and its forests embraced b y m o s t l y urban

environmentalists. L a n d values b e g a n to skyrocket. C e d a r shacks w e r e r e p l a c e d b y

houses straight out o f any suburb. W h a l e s became a tourist a t t r a c t i o n " ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 , p.

66). A pristine coast is an i n c r e d i b l e resource for the pure pleasure o f locals and f o r the

e c o n o m i c i n j e c t i o n that tourists and transient surfers p r o v i d e . T h e t o w n o f T o f i n o has a

year r o u n d p o p u l a t i o n o f 1000 inhabitants but is n o w attracting over a m i l l i o n visitors

each year.

In the early 1990s there w e r e a h a n d f u l o f people s u r f i n g i n T o f i n o ' s waters. As

S h i l l i n g notes, the start o f the s u r f i n g b o o m i n B C began i n the m i d 1 9 9 0 ' s and the late

1990s m a r k e d a s i g n i f i c a n t change w i t h m o r e and m o r e w o m e n t r y i n g the sport. T h e

c h i l d r e n o f B C ' s o r i g i n a l surfers h a v e h e l p e d support the d e v e l o p m e n t o f the sport w i t h

the creation o f s u r f s c h o o l s and s u r f businesses. J e n n y Stewart (nee H u d n a l l ) w h o o w n s

and operates S u r f Sister S u r f S c h o o l is the daughter o f J i m H u d n a l l , one o f T o f i n o ' s

o r i g i n a l surfers. S u r f t o u r i s m is b e c o m i n g an important e c o n o m i c contributor to l o c a l

coastal c o m m u n i t i e s ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 ) . " T h e m a n y surfers around p r o v i d e the service

industries w i t h a cheap l a b o u r force. A l s o , there is m o r e tourist m o n e y f l o a t i n g a r o u n d ,


14

m o r e s u r f s c h o o l s , m o r e leisure a c t i v i t y , and m o r e non-extractive uses o f w i l d e r n e s s " (p.

14).

S i n c e its i n c e p t i o n i n 1993, the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a S u r f i n g A s s o c i a t i o n ( B C S A ) has

been r e c o g n i z e d b y the C a n a d i a n S u r f i n g A s s o c i a t i o n and the International S u r f i n g

A s s o c i a t i o n as the g o v e r n i n g b o d y for s u r f i n g i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a and for representing

west coast surfers. T h e B C S A aims to d e v e l o p surfers w i t h i n B C and to p r o v i d e t h e m

w i t h the o p p o r t u n i t y to b u i l d their s k i l l s i n t e r n a t i o n a l l y ( w w w . B C S A . c a ) .

T h e S u m m e r S u r f J a m is a sponsored two-day j u d g e d contest that a l l o w s l o c a l

surfers to compete against an international f i e l d i n the c o m f o r t o f their h o m e break. The

first S u r f J a m took place i n 1988 w h e n the retail outlet W e s t b e a c h o r g a n i z e d a s m a l l s u r f

contest o n L o n g B e a c h . T h e l o c a t i o n changed the f o l l o w i n g year to C o x B a y and this

event continues to get b i g g e r and attract m o r e sponsors, and subsequently; m o r e p r i z e

m o n e y , m o r e competitors and spectators. T h i s annual event showcases B C ' s top surfers

and enables therri to compete i n p r o f e s s i o n a l c o m p e t i t i o n w i t h pros f r o m the U S . This

event has seven d i v i s i o n s to a c c o m m o d a t e a l l the different levels and f o r m s o f s u r f i n g .

T h e B C S A hopes to further d e v e l o p its athletes t h r o u g h l o c a l c o m p e t i t i o n

s p e c i f i c a l l y the S u m m e r S u r f J a m and b y s e n d i n g its top surfers to m o r e r e g i o n a l contests

s u c h as the W e s tp o rt C l e a n w a t e r C l a s s i c i n W a s h i n g t o n and a f e w pro events i n

California.

In the past, the B C S A f o c u s e d o n creating a C a n a d i a n N a t i o n a l S u r f T e a m that

w o u l d travel to compete i n the w o r l d s u r f i n g games. T h e w o r l d s u r f i n g games are h e l d

e v e r y t w o years and can be d u b b e d the ' O l y m p i c s ' o f s u r f i n g w i t h teams f r o m a l l o v e r

the w o r l d m e e t i n g i n various l o c a t i o n s for the ten d a y event. B C S A s u c c e s s f u l l y entered


15

its first f u l l C a n a d i a n T e a m at the games i n B r a z i l i n 1994. T h e team traveled to

H u n t i n g t o n B e a c h , C a l i f o r n i a i n 1996, to P o r t u g a l i n 1998, and then b a c k to B r a z i l i n

2 0 0 0 . M o r e recently, a k e y focus o f the B C S A is d e v e l o p i n g B C talent at b o t h the

p r o f e s s i o n a l and amateur levels l o c a l l y . T h e B C S A have p r o v e d successful i n their

efforts and the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f the S u m m e r S u r f J a m is evidence o f the increased

support i n d e v e l o p i n g l o c a l talent and e n c o u r a g i n g the y o u n g e r generation to compete

and secure the future o f C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g ( w w w . B C S A . c a ) .

F o l l o w i n g a g r o w i n g trend w o r l d w i d e i n the c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n o f s u r f i n g , s u r f

schools became c o m m o n place around the area o f T o f i n o . In order to establish a code o f

conduct, s u r f s c h o o l g u i d e l i n e s , and s u r f instructor q u a l i f i c a t i o n s for s u r f s c h o o l s

operating w i t h i n the P a c i f i c R i m N a t i o n a l Park b o u n d a r y , the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a

A s s o c i a t i o n o f S u r f Instructors ( B C A S I ) was d e v e l o p e d i n 2 0 0 2 . T h i s association is

dedicated to t r a i n i n g and c e r t i f y i n g s u r f i n g instructors and coaches and e n s u r i n g that a

standard o f safe and efficient s u r f i n s t r u c t i o n is m a i n t a i n e d . A group o f dedicated surfers

f o r m e d the B C A S I as s u r f s c h o o l s f l o u r i s h e d i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , and u n t i l 2 0 0 2 d i d not

have to operate under s p e c i f i c rules and regulations w i t h regard to l i a b i l i t y insurance, s u r f

instructor q u a l i f i c a t i o n s , equipment standards or m a x i m u m instructor to student ratios.

B C A S I u p h o l d s the highest standards f o r the industry so that increased

c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n does not lead to n e g l i g e n c e and q u a l i t y issues. T h e B C A S I seeks to

m a k e the industry safer and m o r e effective b y s t a n d a r d i z i n g instructor t r a i n i n g and s u r f

s c h o o l operations ( w w w . B C A S I . c o m ) .
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2.3 The British Columbia Surf Scene

T h e s u r f is unique i n B C , and thick wetsuits are r e q u i r e d for the i c y P a c i f i c waters

( N i c k s o n , 2 0 0 2 ) , that crash onto spectacular beaches b a c k e d up against old-growth r a i n

forest. T h e s u r f scene i n B C tends to e x h i b i t l o c a l i z e d group n o r m s that are distinct f r o m

other g e o g r a p h i c a l l o c a t i o n s , and even t h o u g h west coast riders are part o f g l o b a l s u r f i n g

culture, they share traditions that are u n i q u e to their situation (Pearson, 1982).

S u r f i n g i n C a n a d a is a year-round pursuit and the c l i m a t e and temperature o f the

water m a k e s f o r a t r u l y C a n a d i a n experience. " Y o u need a wetsuit to s u r f here.

C l a y o q u o t S o u n d , where s u r f t o w n T o f i n o is located, can get f o u r metres o f r a i n a year,

and the w a v e s here are best i n the w i n t e r t i m e " ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 , p. 11). T o f i n o and

U c l u e l e t h a v e an average water temperature o f 8-11 degrees C e l s i u s ; whereas, Jordan

R i v e r and S o m b r i o B e a c h h a v e an average water temperature o f 5-6 degrees C e l s i u s

( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 ) . A s E l i z a b e t h N i c k s o n (2002) describes her experience a l o n g the shores

o f P a c i f i c R i m N a t i o n a l Park, " t h e o c e a n out here is i m m e n s e l y p o w e r f u l , grey, and t h i c k

w i t h salt.. .on this section o f c o a s t " ( p . A L 8 ) .

T h e best s u r f i n g c o n d i t i o n s result f r o m w i n t e r storms. A s S h i l l i n g notes,

W i n t e r t i m e is r e a l l y the o n l y t i m e y o u can r e l i a b l y s u r f S o m b r i o or the Jordan

R i v e r , b o t h o f w h i c h d e p e n d o n w i n t e r storms f o r suitable w a v e s . . . A huge w a v e

i n T o f i n o . . . w o u l d be ten feet.. . w i t h an average w a v e about three-to-five feet

h i g h . M o s t w a v e s at S o m b r i o or Jordan R i v e r are i n the three-to-five feet range.

B o t h S o m b r i o and the J o r d a n R i v e r p r o v i d e consistent w a v e s . T h e s u r f at T o f i n o

is a ' b e a c h s u r f - ever c h a n g i n g . T h e w a v e s at Jordan R i v e r are f o r m e d b y a

p o i n t break w a v e s that f o r m i n reaction to a l a n d f o r m and are, therefore,


17

consistent. T h e w a v e s at S o m b r i o are f o r m e d b y a r e e f break, w h i c h also

produces consistent waves. ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 , p. 16-17)

J o r d a n R i v e r and S o m b r i o B e a c h are less a c c e p t i n g o f beginner surfers. These

locations are m o s t l y m a l e - d o m i n a t e d and e x h i b i t a l o c a l i s m that makes it d i f f i c u l t f o r

outsiders. " J o r d a n R i v e r still has a well-earned reputation for a l o c a l s - o n l y

attitude.. .Because so f e w people surfed J o r d a n R i v e r i n the early 1970s, a heightened

sense o f entitlement and o w n e r s h i p d e v e l o p e d a m o n g the c l u b b i e s " ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 , p.

37). " L o c a l i s m is not u n i q u e to J o r d a n R i v e r . It is encountered i n m a n y s u r f spots

around the w o r l d . W h a t is h a r d to understand is w h y it exists i n B C , where there are f e w

s u r f e r s " (p.39).

U n l i k e J o r d a n R i v e r , l o c a l i s m and a negative v i b e have never been part o f the s u r f

scene i n T o f i n o . It m i g h t be due to the w i d e expanse o f the beach or perhaps

because T o f i n o is an actual t o w n . J o r d a n R i v e r was a c o m p a n y t o w n , sparsely

populated, where little sense o f c o m m u n i t y was able to d e v e l o p . It i s , i n a sense,

u n c l a i m e d territory that a b u n c h o f outsiders m a d e their o w n . In T o f i n o , o n the

other h a n d , there is a sense o f b e l o n g i n g to a c o m m u n i t y without the l o c a l i s m .

( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 , p. 43)

A s a result, T o f i n o has b e c o m e a p o p u l a r s u r f destination f o r f e m a l e surfers and is a year-

r o u n d h o m e for a substantial n u m b e r o f surfers. M o s t w o m e n first experience the sport i n

the m o r e a c c e p t i n g waters that surround the area o f T o f i n o .


18

2.4 The Expansion of Women's Surfing and the Surf Wear Industry

E v e n t h o u g h , w o m e n h a v e been s u r f i n g p r o f e s s i o n a l l y f o r decades, o n l y recently

has s u r f i n g gained increased v i s i b i l i t y i n the m e d i a and i n the sports product m a r k e t p l a c e

( H a m i l t o n , L o c k e , Perry, R e s s n i e r , S m i t h , and W i l l i a m s , 2 0 0 2 ) . A decade ago a w o m a n

w h o wanted to learn to s u r f w o u l d not have felt w e l c o m e . T h e e x i s t i n g s u r f stores d i d n ' t

carry wetsuits, board shorts, rash guards, or other products designed f o r w o m e n surfers.

I f any w o m e n - s p e c i f i c products e x i s t e d d u r i n g this t i m e , there w e r e not m a n y . T h e first

w o m e n - o n l y s u r f shop ' W a t e r G i r l ' opened i n 1995 i n E n c i n i t a s , C a l i f o r n i a and the

o w n e r I l o n a W o o d started a m i n i - r e v o l u t i o n i n the s u r f w e a r industry ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) .

F e m a l e surfers w a n t i n g to find w o m e n ' s products w o u l d not have a p r o b l e m i n the late

1990s o n w a r d s as w o m e n ' s s u r f gear began to appear everywhere. T h i s m a y have been

an i n d i c a t i o n that s u r f i n g l i k e other extreme sports w a s b e c o m i n g m o r e gender neutral

( O s t r o w s k i , 1999). In the s e c o n d h a l f o f the 1990s w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g e x p e r i e n c e d a r a p i d

g r o w t h i n p o p u l a r i t y . A s B o o t h (2001) a f f i r m s ,

T h e industry is e n j o y i n g unprecedented e c o n o m i c prosperity o n rising

c o n s u m p t i o n o f h i g h - f a s h i o n c l o t h i n g and accessories w i t h s u r f i n g m o n i k e r s .

O n e indicator o f the b o o m i n g i n d u s t r y is the purchase o f l e a d i n g s u r f w e a r

manufacturers b y m u l t i n a t i o n a l c o m p a n i e s - L i g h t n i n g B o l t and H a n g T e n b y

P a c i f i c D u n l o p , and M a m b o b y G a z a l C o r p o r a t i o n [and H u r l e y International b y

N i k e ] - and the p u b l i c l i s t i n g o f other major c l o t h i n g and equipment c o m p a n i e s ,

i n c l u d i n g Q u i k s i l v e r and B i l l a b o n g . (p.3)

T h i s t i m e around the w o m e n w e r e the ones h e l p i n g to b r i n g the sport b a c k

( M a r s h , 1997). C h a n g e s i n t e c h n o l o g y , such as lighter boards and the c o m e b a c k o f l o n g


19

boards h e l p e d o p e n the sport to w o m e n . It is estimated that currently one-third o f

A u s t r a l i a ' s t w o m i l l i o n surfers are female ( B o o t h , 2001). B o a r d - T r a c , a C a l i f o r n i a

research f i r m that specializes i n action sports recently reported that 1 6 % to 2 2 % o f the

2.4 m i l l i o n surfers i n the U.S are female, and the percentage o f w o m e n s u r f i n g e v e r y d a y

has m o r e than d o u b l e d i n the past three y e a r s " ( G o n z a l e z , 2 0 0 2 , p. 63). S i n c e the 1970s

w o m e n have penetrated m a n y s p o r t i n g spheres ( W h e a t o n & T o m l i n s o n , 1998). In m a n y

different realms o f sport, w o m e n are b e i n g r e c o g n i z e d as a distinct and p o w e r f u l target

market. A s R o b C u m m i n g s (1997) points out:

A s i m i l a r scene is b e i n g p l a y e d out from M o n t a u k to M a l i b u as m o r e and m o r e

w o m e n drop into that e x c l u s i v e m e n ' s c l u b , the fraternity o f s u r f i n g . . .the real

g r o u n d s w e l l i n the sports p o p u l a r i t y is b e i n g generated b y o r d i n a r y w o m e n -

w o m e n w h o are d o i n g things w i t h surfboards that G i d g e t never dreamed of. (p. 19)

A c c o r d i n g to C u m m i n g s (1997) w i t h the i n f l u x o f w o m e n , the sport is c h a n g i n g i n

i n n o v a t i v e and unpredictable w a y s , and is attracting the attention o f marketers, retailers,

and non-surfers g l o b a l l y .

A n u m b e r o f c o n d i t i o n s throughout the 1990s contributed to a n e w s u r f i n g culture

that is m o r e accepting o f w o m e n . B o o t h (2001) i d e n t i f i e d the f o l l o w i n g c o n d i t i o n s as

m a i n contributors to the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g : the r e v i v a l o f l o n g boards, the

emergence o f n e w r o l e m o d e l s , r e s o l u t i o n o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g style, a shift i n attitude

r e g a r d i n g the m a r k e t i n g o f f e m a l e s e x u a l i t y , a r e v i t a l i z e d p r o f e s s i o n a l w o m e n ' s tour, and

n e w products dedicated to f e m a l e surfers. A l t h o u g h l o n g boards have been c r i t i c i z e d f o r

b e i n g h e a v y to transport, they are m o r e buoyant and stable m a k i n g it easier f o r w o m e n to

stand up and catch waves. In 1997 and 1998 K a h l u a sponsored the w o m e n ' s pro tour and
20

increased the p r i z e m o n e y a v a i l a b l e to w o m e n surfers. In 1995 S u r f i n g m a g a z i n e added

S u r f i n g G i r l as an annual insert and i n 2 0 0 0 s i x editions w e r e p r o d u c e d . Similarly

A u s t r a l i a ' s Surfer L i f e b e g a n a t w o page supplement c a l l e d C h i c k and i n 1998 an

independent m a g a z i n e was l a u n c h e d . L i s a A n d e r s o n b e c a m e r e c o g n i z e d as a role m o d e l

for w o m e n surfers and was credited w i t h g i v i n g w o m e n authority i n a m a l e - d o m i n a t e d

subculture. A s a p r o f e s s i o n a l surfer, L i s a A n d e r s o n w o n f o u r c o n s e c u t i v e A s s o c i a t i o n o f

S u r f i n g P r o f e s s i o n a l s ( A S P ) w o r l d titles between 1994 and 1997 ( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 ) .

T h e n u m b e r o f w o m e n p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n s u r f i n g has c o n t i n u e d to rise ( O s t r o w s k i ,

1999) and it is apparent that a s m a l l but persisting market n o w exists for w o m e n d e s i r i n g

to learn to s u r f as e v i d e n c e d b y the o p e n i n g o f g i r l s - o n l y s u r f schools ( G o n z a l e z , 2 0 0 2 ) .

In 1996, I z z y T i h a n y i o p e n e d S u r f D i v a the first a l l - w o m e n ' s s u r f s c h o o l i n L a J o l l a ,

C a l i f o r n i a ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) , and the first g i r l s - o n l y s u r f s c h o o l opened i n 1999 o n the

west coast o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ( N i c k s o n , 2 0 0 2 ) . S u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n s for w o m e n w e r e

also o n C a n a d a ' s beaches and waters. K e y brand manufacturers i n the s u r f i n d u s t r y h a v e

sponsored these events o n C a n a d a ' s west coast.

A c c o r d i n g to H a m i l t o n et a l . (2002), s u r f w e a r is n o w a $2.4 b i l l i o n i n d u s t r y and

g r o w i n g . T h e t w o biggest c o m p a n i e s , B i l l a b o n g and Q u i k s i l v e r , i n 2 0 0 2 w e r e already

e x p e c t i n g " t h e i r lines o f g i r l s ' b o a r d shorts, T shirts and other apparel to s o o n meet or

beat earnings f r o m b o y ' s l i n e s " ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 , p. 54). T h i s is an i n d i c a t i o n that

the market g r o w t h o f s u r f i n g apparel has been d r i v e n i n part t h r o u g h the e x p a n s i o n o f

female lines. E s t a b l i s h e d s u r f w e a r manufacturers and n e w independent labels have been

d e s i g n i n g brands s p e c i f i c a l l y for w o m e n . O s t r o w s k i (1999) indicates m o r e than one

quarter o f Q u i k s i l v e r ' s sales c o m e f r o m its g i r l s R o x y d i v i s i o n . R o x y w h i c h produces


21

s u r f and s n o w b o a r d clothes f o r w o m e n started i n 1994, and sales, escalated f r o m $ 1

m i l l i o n the first year to an estimated $128 m i l l i o n i n 1999. In targeting the untapped

market o f female surfers, Q u i k s i l v e r was at the b e g i n n i n g o f an upsurge i n the s u r f

i n d u s t r y ( O s t r o w s k i , 1999).

D u r i n g this p e r i o d , s u r f w e a r also shifted into m a i n s t r e a m f a s h i o n , e s p e c i a l l y

a m o n g G e n e r a t i o n Y g i r l s ( O s t r o w s k i , 1999). H e i d i B a r t h o l o m e w , director o f m a r k e t i n g

and d e s i g n f o r B i l l a b o n g A u s t r a l i a has c o m m e n t e d o n the l i n k between s u r f apparel, s u r f

lifestyles, and self-identity f o r the G e n Y market. She states that " G i r l s are e m b r a c i n g

the l i f e s t y l e , the w h o l e s u r f i n g e x p e r i e n c e . . . E v e n g i r l s w h o h a v e never caught a w a v e

l i k e w e a r i n g the f l o p p y , casual c l o t h e s " ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 , p. 53). T h e w i d e s p r e a d

p o p u l a r i z a t i o n o f s u r f style has e v e n m a d e its impact i n the prairie, l a n d - l o c k e d t o w n o f

C a l g a r y . A C a l g a r y store o w n e r attributes the appeal o f s u r f i n g w i t h the " f a s c i n a t i o n

w i t h all things C a l i f o r n i a ( n ) . . . w e wanted to e p i t o m i z e e v e r y t h i n g about C a l i f o r n i a , but

i n C a l g a r y " ( K l a f f k e , 2 0 0 2 , p. B 5 ) . T h e pattern o f c o n s u m p t i o n that results, o f m i x i n g

s u r f w e a r f a s h i o n w i t h other elements o f teen and pre-teen f a s h i o n fits w i t h L u r y ' s (1996)

d e s c r i p t i o n o f the a d o p t i o n o f l i f e s t y l e trends. She writes, " . . . w h i l e o n l y a s m a l l

m i n o r i t y o f y o u n g p e o p l e m a y have adopted the c o m p l e t e ensemble o f subcultural style,

large numbers are seen to h a v e d r a w n o n selective elements, creating their o w n m e a n i n g s

and uses f r o m t h e m " ( L u r y , 1996, p. 194).

Recent f i l m s have also contributed to the rise i n p o p u l a r i t y o f s u r f i n g l i f e s t y l e s

and s u r f f a s h i o n . G o n z a l e z (2002) c o m m e n t s o n this n o t i n g that, " H o l l y w o o d has p i c k e d

up o n the trend; D i s n e y ' s L i l o & S t i t c h and U n i v e r s a l ' s B l u e C r u s h , b o t h o f w h i c h

celebrate female s u r f i n g , m a y m a k e r i d i n g the w a v e s even m o r e p o p u l a r " (p. 63). As


22

I z z y T i h a n y i , founder o f the S u r f D i v a s u r f s c h o o l f o r g i r l s states " E v e r y little g i r l w h o

sees [ B l u e C r u s h ] is g o i n g to want to s u r f ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 , p. 52). T h e increased

p o p u l a r i t y o f g i r l s s u r f i n g , i n turn, has i n f l u e n c e d brand marketers to target this

d e m o g r a p h i c segment i n their m a r k e t i n g c a m p a i g n s w h i c h contributes to the p o p u l a r i t y

o f s u r f w e a r w i t h this group. A s O s t r o w s k i (1999) has o b s e r v e d , m a n y teens are m o r e

fascinated b y extreme sports (skateboarding, s u r f i n g , and s n o w b o a r d i n g ) than b y j o c k

sports ( f o o t b a l l , basketball and baseball). T h e s e teens m a y participate i n the activities o r

share i n the lifestyle associations and identity o f the sports b y p u r c h a s i n g b r a n d e d

apparel. A s Schouten and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) indicate, " S u b c u l t u r a l l y created styles

m a y b e shared o r imitated b y a m u c h larger audience o r m a r k e t peripheral to the core

subculture and m a y even b e c o m e i m i t a t e d and c o m m e r c i a l i z e d for mass c o n s u m p t i o n "

( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r , 1 9 9 5 , p. 43). B o o t h (2001) has c a u t i o n e d , h o w e v e r , that

" c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n also threatens to u n d e r m i n e the cultural tenets o f s u r f i n g . . . w h i l e

w o m e n consumers o f s u r f products p r o m i s e the i n d u s t r y unprecedented e c o n o m i c

prosperity, they also pose a threat to the v e r y cultural authenticity o n w h i c h the i n d u s t r y

d e p e n d s " (p. 16).

2.5 The Concept of Subculture

T h e term ' s u b c u l t u r e ' has been used i n i n c r e a s i n g l y c o n t r a d i c t o r y w a y s b y sport

s o c i a l theorists and requires a b r i e f e x p l a n a t i o n i n context. A s Crosset and B e a l (1997)

state, " W i t h i n sport ethnography, the term subculture has been e m p l o y e d so b r o a d l y that

the term has lost m u c h o f its explanatory p o w e r " (p. 73). E t h n o g r a p h i e s o f sport

subcultures have often exaggerated cultural resistance and p o s i t i o n e d sport subcultures as


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o p p o s i t i o n a l to the parent culture (Crosset & B e a l , 1997). T h e term subculture is often

construed as s y n o n y m o u s w i t h deviants and their activities, and the p r e f i x ' s u b ' is

s o m e t i m e s interpreted as b e i n g i n f e r i o r to m a i n s t r e a m values. F o r the purposes o f m y

research, I shift a w a y f r o m w h o l l y o p p o s i t i o n a l elements and e x a m i n e the l i n k between

c o n s u m p t i o n , identities, and s u b c u l t u r a l theory i n the emergence and g r o w t h o f the

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g industry i n C a n a d a . A s Pearson (1979) suggests " A s u b c u l t u r a l n o r m

m a y be different f r o m the ' n o r m ' o f the parent culture or o f another subculture and yet b e

w i t h i n a tolerable range o f b e h a v i o r [and therefore not ' d e v i a n t ' ] " (p. 20). D o n n e l l y ' s

(1981a) d e f i n i t i o n o f subculture m o s t adequately captures the w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g

c o m m u n i t y for m y purposes. D o n n e l l y (1981a) defines a subculture as " A c o l l e c t i v i t y o f

groups and i n d i v i d u a l s w h o possess c o m m o n c u l t u r a l characteristics and w h o interact

w i t h each other, or w h o have the potential to interact w i t h each other either d i r e c t l y o r

s y m b o l i c a l l y (i.e., t h r o u g h s u c h m e d i a as m a g a z i n e s and n e w s l e t t e r s ) " (p. 570). S i m i l a r

to other subcultures, sport subcultures m a y be d i s t i n g u i s h e d as subsystems w i t h i n the

d o m i n a n t culture, and characterized b y a different set o f n o r m s , values, b e l i e f s , and

s y m b o l s ( L e o n a r d II, 1991).

a. Youth Subcultures

Sc h o l ars i n f l u e n c e d b y the B i r m i n g h a m C e n t e r for C o n t e m p o r a r y C u l t u r a l

Studies have f o c u s e d o n the analysis o f y o u t h subcultures. A notable cultural studies

analysis o f post-war y o u t h subcultures i n B r i t a i n is H e b d i g e ' s (1979) Subculture: T h e

m e a n i n g o f style (Crosset & B e a l , 1997). S i n c e the 1950s n e w y o u t h groups h a v e


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emerged i n w h i c h c o n s u m p t i o n p l a y e d an integral role i n their existence ( B o c o c k , 1993).

A s L u r y (1996) notes:

There is n o w a l o n g and w e l l - k n o w n h i s t o r y o f y o u t h subcultural styles, f r o m the

teddy b o y s and the m o d s , to the skins and p u n k s , to h i p h o p and rave, w h i c h has

o c c u p i e d the attention o f s o c i o l o g i s t s , j o u r n a l i s t s , and m u s i c and f a s h i o n

commentators a l i k e , (p. 193)

H e b d i g e (1979) based h i s analysis based o n the p u n k and reggae subcultures present i n

B r i t a i n d u r i n g the m i d 1950s to m i d 1970s. H e b d i g e e x a m i n e d the l i n k b e t w e e n the

p r e d o m i n a n t l y w o r k i n g class y o u t h subcultural styles and the styles o f the sizeable b l a c k

i m m i g r a n t c o m m u n i t y . H e suggests that w e s h o u l d be "interested i n subculture- i n the

expressive f o r m s and rituals o f those subordinate groups - w h o are alternatively

d i s m i s s e d , d e n o u n c e d , and c a n o n i z e d ; treated at different times as threats to p u b l i c order

and as harmless b u f f o o n s " ( H e b d i g e , 1 9 7 9 , p. 2).

L u r y (1996) proposes f o u r m a i n c o n d i t i o n s that have contributed to the

emergence o f post-war y o u t h styles i n B r i t a i n : i) the t r a d i t i o n a l p e r i o d f r o m dependent

c h i l d h o o d to independent a d u l t h o o d has been greatly lengthened i n m o d e r n i n d u s t r i a l

societies, ii) youth b e c a m e a s i g n i f i c a n t c o n s u m e r market, i i i ) s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l changes

s u c h as the breakup o f t r a d i t i o n a l h o u s i n g patterns and the i n c r e a s i n g e m p l o y m e n t o f

w o m e n and iv) A m e r i c a n i z a t i o n (popular culture) o f B r i t i s h cultures.

H a l l and Jefferson (1976) i n their analysis o f B r i t i s h post-war y o u t h cultures p o i n t

out that " O n e o f the m a i n functions o f subcultural style is to define the boundaries o f

g r o u p m e m b e r s h i p as against other g r o u p s " (p. 180). T h e meanings that subcultures

create often stand i n o p p o s i t i o n to the accepted m e a n i n g s o f the m a j o r i t y - to the


25

" d o m i n a n t social-cultural o r d e r " (p. 12). S i m i l a r l y H e b d i g e (1979) suggests that the

c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a style that deviates f r o m the interests o f the d o m i n a n t groups i n s oci ety

signals a refusal against the p r e v a i l i n g i d e o l o g i e s . T h r o u g h the e x p r e s s i o n o f style

subcultures challenge h e g e m o n y , w h i c h H e b d i g e , d r a w i n g o n H a l l (1977), defines as:

A situation i n w h i c h a p r o v i s i o n a l a l l i a n c e o f certain s o c i a l groups can exert total

s o c i a l authority o v e r other subordinate groups, not s i m p l y b y c o e r c i o n or b y the

direct i m p o s i t i o n o f r u l i n g ideas, but b y w i n n i n g and s h a p i n g consent so that the

p o w e r o f the d o m i n a n t classes appears b o t h legitimate and natural, (p. 16, c . f ,

H a l l , 1977)

H e b d i g e (1979) adds that " T h e tensions betw een d o m i n a n t and subordinate

groups can be f o u n d i n the surfaces o f subculture - i n the styles made up o f m u n d a n e

objects w h i c h have a d o u b l e m e a n i n g " (p. 3). T h r o u g h their appearance subordinate

groups appropriate certain objects (e.g. safety pins, tubes o f V a s e l i n e , scooters, t a m p o n s ,

plastic clothes-pegs), and these objects s i g n i f y the presence o f difference f r o m d o m i n a n t

groups and are a s i g n o f f o r b i d d e n identity, or m a y be a source o f v a l u e to those w h o h o l d

them as markers o f identity ( H e b d i g e , 1979). L u r y suggests that " T h e h o m o l o g o u s

coherence o f y o u t h subcultures is created t h r o u g h the process o f b r i c o l a g e - the process

i n w h i c h objects acquire n e w m e a n i n g t h r o u g h r e c o n t e x t u a l i z a t i o n ( 1 9 9 6 , p. 197).

B o c o c k (1993) adds that a l t h o u g h y o u t h groups use " . . . s p e c i f i c c o n s u m p t i o n patterns as

a w a y o f m a r k i n g a b o u n d a r y b e t w e e n peer group m e m b e r s h i p and outsiders.. .group

boundaries are m u c h m o r e fluid than under c o n d i t i o n s o f m o d e r n i t y ; p e o p l e do not feel

that they b e l o n g n e c e s s a r i l y to the same s o c i a l status g r o u p , or e v e n the same ethnic

g r o u p , into w h i c h they w e r e b o r n " (p. 80).


26

H e b d i g e ' s (1979) essential point is that these ' d e v i a n t s ' (p. 19) v i o l a t e the s o c i a l

order, and are detached f r o m the n o r m through their d e f i n i n g characteristics o f m u s i c and

style. H e b d i g e further reveals that each subculture i n B r i t a i n is a n o r m a l response to a

particular set o f s o c i a l c i rc u ms tan ces d u r i n g that t i m e p e r i o d . T h e deviant b e h a v i o r o f

y o u t h subcultures is understood as a c o l l e c t i v e reaction o f y o u t h themselves to structural

changes that took place i n B r i t i s h post-war society ( H e b d i g e , 1979).

A k e y f i n d i n g i n this w o r k is that style and patterns o f c o n s u m p t i o n can serve as

means for c o n s t r u c t i n g an identity. In B r i t a i n , the first m a l e y o u t h group w h o e m e r g e d

w i t h a d i s t i n c t i v e sense o f i d e n t i t y was the teddy b o y s . A s B o c o c k (1993) a c k n o w l e d g e s

" T h i s identity was constructed, i n large part, around a d i s t i n c t i v e pattern o f c o n s u m p t i o n ,

that o f Edwardian-style c l o t h i n g , a s p e c i a l hairstyle, and a taste for r o c k ' n ' r o l l m u s i c " (p.

100). S i m i l a r l y , H e b d i g e (1979) c l a i m s that the m o d style attempted to compensate f o r

the m u n d a n e p r e d i c t a b i l i t y o f the w o r k i n g w e e k " b y e x e r c i s i n g c o m p l e t e d o m i n a t i o n

over h i s private estate - his appearance and c h o i c e o f leisure p u r s u i t s " (p. 91). T h r o u g h

style, y o u t h i n B r i t a i n have created an alternative i d e n t i t y for themselves: a sense o f

otherness ( H e b d i g e , 1979).

H e b d i g e (1979) a c k n o w l e d g e s that it is o n l y a matter o f t i m e before s u b c u l t u r a l

signs (dress, m u s i c , etc.) b e c o m e mass-produced objects f o r m a i n s t r e a m f a s h i o n . "In

e v e r y successive subculture there is a c y c l e l e a d i n g f r o m o p p o s i t i o n to d e l u s i o n , f r o m

resistance to i n c o r p o r a t i o n " (p. 100), and b o t h the market and the m e d i a p l a y a r o l e i n the

c o n t i n u a t i o n o f this c y c l e . L u r y (1996) argues that the last authentic y o u t h culture was

punk w h i c h emerged i n the late 1970s and early 1980s. " Y o u t h s u b c u l t u r e s , " she writes,

" c a n no l o n g e r exist i n t o d a y ' s c o m m e r c i a l l y predatory e n v i r o n m e n t . . . they no sooner


27

emerge than they are s w a l l o w e d w h o l e b y c o n t e m p o r a r y c o n s u m e r c u l t u r e " ( L u r y , 1996,

p. 198).

T h i s w o r k s p r o v i d e s a u s e f u l b r i d g e to sports subcultures, m a n y o f w h i c h are also

youth-driven. In this context, sports subcultures can be c o n c e p t u a l i z e d as groups w h o

demonstrate c o m m o n identities and a f f i l i a t i o n s w i t h each other based o n the l i f e s t y l e

c o n d i t i o n s o f their activity and its cultural s y m b o l i s m w h i c h are b o t h rooted i n the

c o n s u m p t i o n o f c o n s u m e r products i n a c o n s u m e r market e c o n o m y . In s u c h an

e n v i r o n m e n t , product and brand s y m b o l i s m matters, as do the sport and g r o u p ' s

identities.

b. Sports subcultures

K a t e s (1998) has p r o p o s e d that " O n e o f the m o s t interesting branches o f b o t h the

sport m a r k e t i n g and c o n s u m e r research d i s c i p l i n e s - f r o m b o t h theoretical and

m a n a g e r i a l perspectives - is the study o f subcultures w h o s e s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n r e v o l v e

around various brands or a c t i v i t i e s " (p. 26). In the literature o n sports subcultures, the

process o f subcultural s o c i a l i z a t i o n has been l i n k e d to identity f o r m a t i o n ( D o n n e l l y and

Y o u n g , 1988; W h e a t o n , 1998, 2 0 0 0 ) , and the e x p r e s s i o n o f identity through sport

c o n s u m p t i o n ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r , 1995). W h e a t o n ( 1 9 9 8 , 2000) e x a m i n e d the

r o l e o f identity i n the case o f w i n d s u r f i n g subcultures, and her research o u t l i n e d the array

o f gender relations i n the sport. B e a l (1996) discusses the alternative d e f i n i t i o n s o f

m a s c u l i n i t y and its effects o n gender relations that are manifest i n the subculture o f

skateboarding. In her observations o f the skateboarding subculture, she a c k n o w l e d g e s

the l a c k o f female p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the sport. T h e p r e d o m i n a n t l y m a l e participants


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i d e n t i f i e d the l a c k o f a strict f o r m a l structure, f r e e d o m o f self-expression, emphasis o n

p a r t i c i p a t i o n and co-operation, and the a b i l i t y to c h a l l e n g e their o w n p h y s i c a l l i m i t s as

m o t i v e s for their i n v o l v e m e n t i n the sport. T h e m a l e skaters also i d e n t i f i e d the p h y s i c a l

nature o f the sport, l a c k o f female participants, and the lack o f peer support as barriers f o r

females i n the sport ( B e a l , 1996). B e a l (1996) reported that " B o t h the males and females

have i n t e r n a l i z e d the d o m i n a n t i d e o l o g y o f sport as a m a l e s o c i a l r o l e . . . A n d as l o n g as

females are j u d g e d b y a standard o f m a s c u l i n i t y i n a patriarchal society they w i l l a l w a y s

be m a r g i n a l i z e d " ( B e a l , 1996, p. 219)

H o w e v e r , A n d e r s o n (1999) i n her analysis o f the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f gender i n the

e m e r g i n g sport o f s n o w b o a r d i n g suggested that " U n l i k e most o r g a n i z e d sports [ f o o t b a l l ,

b a s e b a l l , b a s k e t b a l l ] , s n o w b o a r d i n g is e m e r g i n g i n a context o f w o m e n ' s sport

p a r t i c i p a t i o n and is not a u t o m a t i c a l l y considered a m a s c u l i n e p r a c t i c e " (p. 59). Heino

(2000) a n a l y z e d the l i f e c y c l e o f s n o w b o a r d i n g as a n e w sport, and f o u n d that there is a

l i f e s t y l e s p e c i f i c to s n o w b o a r d i n g that is resistant to the d o m i n a n t sport o f s k i i n g and the

s o c i a l values that s k i i n g represents. H e i n o (2000) suggests that the " m e d i a h a v e

appropriated the i m a g e o f y o u t h f u l r e b e l l i o n i n s n o w b o a r d i n g and c o m m o d i f i e d i t " (p.

176), r e s u l t i n g i n a s i m i l a r d i f f u s i o n o f s n o w b o a r d i n g culture to non-snowboarders as

noted i n the case o f s u r f i n g m e n t i o n e d p r e v i o u s l y .

A g r o w i n g b o d y o f research o n sport subcultures has f o c u s e d o n gender relations

and s o c i a l i z a t i o n and acceptance w i t h i n sport subcultures ( A n d e r s o n , 1999; B e a l , 1 9 9 6 ;

K l e i n , 1986; L e o n a r d II, 1991). T h e i m p o r t a n c e o f c o m m i t m e n t and d e m o n s t r a t i n g

p r o f i c i e n c y i n the sport has also been a n a l y z e d w i t h respect to negotiating, r e n e g o t i a t i n g ,

and sometimes s u b v e r t i n g the c o n t e m p o r a r y gender order ( W h e a t o n & T o m l i n s o n , 1998).


29

Y o u t h sport subcultures also demonstrate a u n i q u e style that contributes to

identity f o r m a t i o n a m o n g the y o u t h i n v o l v e d . A t the b e g i n n i n g o f s n o w b o a r d i n g ,

snowboarders f o u n d their cultural roots i n s u r f i n g , s k a t e b o a r d i n g , and the " g a n s t a "

( A n d e r s o n , 1999). " T h e p o p u l a r i t y o f the hip-hop l o o k , and its a p p r o p r i a t i o n b y

suburban y o u t h f r o m its urban o r i g i n s a l l o w e d for an easy j u m p from skateboard and

s u r f i n g style to s n o w b o a r d s t y l e " ( H e i n o , 2 0 0 0 , p. 178). ' S t y l e ' b e c o m e s m o b i l i z e d as a

means to demonstrate group m e m b e r s h i p and to d i s t i n g u i s h authentic m e m b e r s f r o m the

' p o s e r s ' , e.g. a non-surfer p l a y i n g the r o l e o f a surfer (see A n d e r s o n , 1999). A poser

often adopts the " m a n n e r i s m s , attitudes, language, and styles o f dress, speech, and

b e h a v i o r that he or she perceives to be characteristic o f [core] established m e m b e r s o f the

s u b c u l t u r e " ( D o n n e l l y & Y o u n g , 1988, p. 2 2 3 ) , but is d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e f r o m a neophyte

w h o shapes an i d e n t i t y t h r o u g h the c o n s u m p t i o n o f goods to assist i n his or her

s o c i a l i z a t i o n into the subculture.

M a r k e t e r s f o l l o w the c h a n g i n g styles o f y o u t h culture and adjust their brands

a c c o r d i n g to current market trends. In essence, b r a n d marketers, advertisers, and

promoters can learn a great deal f r o m the ' a u t h e n t i c ' hard-core m e m b e r s o f the group.

A l l styles that take f o r m i n the m a i n s t r e a m arise f r o m the subculture itself. " T h e creation

and d i f f u s i o n o f n e w styles is i n e x t r i c a b l y b o u n d up w i t h the process o f p r o d u c t i o n ,

p u b l i c i t y , and p a c k a g i n g w h i c h m u s t i n e v i t a b l y lead to the d i f f u s i o n o f the s u b c u l t u r e ' s

subversive p o w e r . . .[They feed] back into h i g h f a s h i o n and m a i n s t r e a m f a s h i o n "

( H e b d i g e , 1979, p. 95). A c c o r d i n g to W h e a t o n (2000), this u l t i m a t e l y means that the

subculture is a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n . A s she writes:


30

The surfing subculture...is a 'commodity-oriented subculture' in which consumer

capitalism is essential to its inception and growth.. .Surfing supports 'two

fundamentals o f American capitalism, consumerism and individualism'...This

expansion o f capital is particularly evident in the commodities linked to these

activities such as equipment and clothing, (p. 261)

Surfing style has fed directly into mainstream fashion. Boardies, hoodies, Reefs, bikinis,

and surf branded merchandise adorn store shelves. Meanwhile, youth are fueling the

industry, attempting to fashion an identity out o f their purchases.

2.6 Consumer Research

In order to more clearly specify the importance o f consumption in contemporary

sport subcultures it is useful to draw on some o f the work that has been done in consumer

research. For example, Bennett (1999) drawing on Maffesoli's concept o f tribus (tribes)

applied the framework o f neo-tribes to an empirical study o f the contemporary dance

music scene in Britain. According to Maffesoli the tribe is "without the rigidity o f the

forms o f organization with which we are familiar, it refers more to a certain ambience, a

state o f mind, and is preferably to be expressed through lifestyles that favor appearance

and form' (Bennett, p. 605; c.f, Maffesoli, 1996). Bennett criticizes the subcultural

theories developed by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies

( C C C S ) , and argues that "The concept o f 'subculture' is unworkable as an objective

analytical tool in sociological work on youth, music and style" (p. 599). Bennett

indicates that "The term 'subculture' is also deeply problematic in that it imposes rigid

lines o f division" (p. 603), and implies that subcultures "exist outside o f the mainstream"
31

(p. 6 0 4 ) , or i n essence that they are i n h e r e n t l y deviant. H e writes that the term

' s u b c u l t u r e ' b e c o m e s " a c o n v e n i e n t ' c a t c h - a l l ' term used to describe a range o f disparate

c o l l e c t i v e practices w h o s e o n l y o b v i o u s relation is that they all i n v o l v e y o u n g p e o p l e " (p.

605). A c c o r d i n g l y , the concept o f neo-tribes was introduced as an alternative theoretical

m o d e l for the study o f y o u t h . These g r o u p i n g s are characterized b y f l u i d boundaries and

floating m e m b e r s h i p s and " a l l o w s f o r the s h i f t i n g nature o f y o u t h ' s m u s i c a l and s t y l i s t i c

preferences and the essential fluidity o f y o u t h c u l t u r a l g r o u p s " (p. 614). M u n i z and

O ' G u i n n (2001) i n their r e v i e w o f neo-tribalism further e m p h a s i z e this fluid nature o f

these groups and m e n t i o n that " t h e y f o r m , they disperse, [and] they re-form as s o m e t h i n g

else, r e f l e c t i n g the constant s h i f t i n g identities o f p o s t m o d e r n c o n s u m e r s " (p. 4 1 4 ) . T h i s

research is i d e n t i f i e d as a p o s s i b l e means to describe y o u t h groups d i f f e r e n t l y than u s i n g

subcultural theory. T h e concept o f neo-tribes is effective f o r a n a l y z i n g the y o u t h dance

m u s i c scene; h o w e v e r , for the purposes o f m y study, it does not capture the s e m i -

permanent nature o f the s o c i a l group o f w o m e n surfers I wanted to study. B e n n e t t ' s

analysis o f lifestyles is important to m y study therefore m a i n l y because o f its c o n n e c t i o n

between identity, l i f e s t y l e s , and c o n s u m p t i o n .

M u n i z and O ' G u i n n (2001) f r o m their o w n part i n t r o d u c e d the concept o f b r a n d

c o m m u n i t y as a f r a m e w o r k f o r understanding c o n s u m e r b e h a v i o r . A b r a n d c o m m u n i t y is

d e f i n e d as " a s p e c i a l i z e d , n o n - g e o g r a p h i c a l l y b o u n d c o m m u n i t y based o n a structured set

o f s o c i a l relationships a m o n g admirers o f a b r a n d " (p. 4 1 2 ) . U n l i k e m a r g i n a l i z e d

subcultures, b r a n d c o m m u n i t i e s embrace aspects o f the s u r r o u n d i n g culture's i d e o l o g y .

M u n i z and O ' G u i n n (2001) used ethnographic and computer-mediated e n v i r o n m e n t data

to e x p l o r e the brand c o m m u n i t i e s o f F o r d B r o n c o , M a c i n t o s h , and Saab. It is important


32

to draw attention to the core components o f c o m m u n i t y w h i c h essentially are the d e f i n i n g

characteristics o f a brand c o m m u n i t y as i d e n t i f i e d b y M u n i z and O ' G u i n n . T h e first

element and most important c o m p o n e n t o f c o m m u n i t y is a ' c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f k i n d '

d e f i n e d as "the i n t r i n s i c c o n n e c t i o n that m e m b e r s feel t o w a r d one another, and the

c o l l e c t i v e sense o f difference from others not i n the c o m m u n i t y " (p. 4 1 3 ) . T h e other t w o

components o f c o m m u n i t y are shared rituals and traditions, and a sense o f m o r a l

r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . It is suggested that brand c o m m u n i t i e s are i n fact l a r g e l y i m a g i n e d

c o m m u n i t i e s . M u n i z and O ' G u i n n (2001) postulate that " T h e s e c o m m u n i t i e s m a y f o r m

around a n y b r a n d , but are p r o b a b l y m o r e l i k e l y to f o r m around brands w i t h a strong

i m a g e , a r i c h and lengthy history, and threatening c o m p e t i t i o n " (p. 4 1 5 ) . B r a n d

c o m m u n i t i e s can be b e n e f i c i a l to marketers i n that they can p o s i t i v e l y affect b r a n d e q u i t y

and actualize the relationship v a l u e o f a b r a n d ( M u n i z and O ' G u i n n , 2 0 0 1 ) .

T h e concept o f b r a n d c o m m u n i t y is an important a d d i t i o n to the study o f

c o n s u m e r culture, h o w e v e r , its f o r m a l characteristics, as d e f i n e d b y M u n i z and O ' G u i n n

i m p o s e several l i m i t a t i o n s . It is suggested that m e m b e r s o f a b r a n d c o m m u n i t y t y p i c a l l y

are intensely devoted to a b r a n d , oppose c o m p e t i n g brands, and possess a shared

consciousness. T h e s e brands often have a r i c h h i s t o r y and tend to preserve the traditional

m e a n i n g o f the brand ( M u n i z & O ' G u i n n , 2 0 0 1 ) . T h e brands studied b y M u n i z and

O ' G u i n n (2001) m a y have been c a r e f u l l y selected as ideal markers o f c o m m u n i t y i n

order to better fit the n o t i o n o f b r a n d c o m m u n i t y . In regards to w o m e n ' s s u r f brands,

m a n y o f these brands have been recently added to the market and do not have an

established history. F u r t h e r m o r e , it is anticipated that consumers o f s u r f brands do not

focus entirely o n one brand w i t h s u c h intensity d u r i n g each purchase d e c i s i o n . It is


33

i m p r o b a b l e that consumers o f one s p e c i f i c s u r f brand w o u l d f o r m a c o m m u n i t y b o u n d b y

their passionate d e v o t i o n to the b r a n d . Indisputably, s o m e brands m a y be preferable to

b o t h the mainstream c o n s u m e r and the subculture m e m b e r , but w i t h regard to the

c o n s t r u c t i o n o f their identities it w o u l d seem product category is m o r e important to these

i n d i v i d u a l s . F o r the purpose o f m y research the focus o f c o n c e r n is not o n a particular

brand or consumers o f one brand s o l e l y . T h e r e f o r e , an alternative f r a m e w o r k is needed

that better suits the objectives o f m y study.

S h o h a m and K a h l e (1996) a p p l i e d the concept o f c o n s u m p t i o n c o m m u n i t i e s to the

m a r k e t i n g o f sport services. T h e y define a c o n s u m p t i o n c o m m u n i t y as a " g r o u p o f

people h a v i n g c o m m o n c o n s u m p t i o n interests" (p. 12). T h e y i d e n t i f i e d t w o types o f

c o m m u n i t i e s : c o n s u m p t i o n and c o m m u n i c a t i o n i n their research. S h o h a m and K a h l e

(1996) b e l i e v e d that sport marketers c o u l d benefit f r o m understanding the m e d i a habits o f

different c o n s u m p t i o n c o m m u n i t i e s . M e m b e r s h i p i n a c o m m u n i c a t i o n c o m m u n i t y can

take the f o r m o f spectator, v i e w e r , or reader. In their f r a m e w o r k , c o n s u m p t i o n

c o m m u n i t i e s are based o n three types o f s p o r t i n g activities a) c o m p e t i t i v e sport, b) fitness

sport and c) nature-related sport ( S h o h a m & K a h l e , 1996). T h e researchers b e l i e v e d that

" I n d i v i d u a l s w h o b e l o n g to each o f the three c o m m u n i c a t i o n c o m m u n i t i e s s h o u l d d i f f e r

i n sport c o n s u m p t i o n " (p. 12). T h e i r results determined that sport marketers w o u l d m o r e

l i k e l y benefit f r o m targeting a l l three groups o f c o n s u m p t i o n c o m m u n i t i e s i n their

m a r k e t i n g strategies ( S h o h a m & K a h l e , 1996). F o r the purposes o f m y study the

c o n s u m p t i o n c o m m u n i t i e s i d e n t i f i e d are too b r o a d to adequately situate the sport o f

s u r f i n g i n the f r a m e w o r k . C o n s u m p t i o n c o m m u n i t i e s w o u l d be advantageous f o r the


34

brand m a r k e t i n g c o m p o n e n t o f m y study, but w o u l d ignore the important characteristics

o f the subculture b e i n g studied.

Schouten and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995), i n their ethnographic w o r k o n Harley-

D a v i d s o n m o t o r c y c l e o w n e r s e x a m i n e d the p h e n o m e n o n o f subculture f r o m a c o n s u m e r

b e h a v i o r perspective. T h e i r study i n t r o d u c e d the concept o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n

i n order,

T o better understand consumers and the m a n n e r i n w h i c h they o r g a n i z e their l i v e s

and identities. R e c o g n i z i n g that c o n s u m p t i o n activities, product categories, o r

even brands m a y serve as the basis f o r interaction and s o c i a l c o h e s i o n , the

c o n c e p t . . .solves m a n y p r o b l e m s inherent i n the use o f ascribed s o c i a l categories

as devices f o r u n d e r s t a n d i n g c o n s u m e r b e h a v i o r , (p. 43)

T h i s research is transferable to other ' c o n s u m p t i o n - o r i e n t e d subcultures' (p. 4 3 ) .

Schouten and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) define a 'subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n ' , as " A

d i s t i n c t i v e subgroup o f society that self-selects o n the basis o f a shared c o m m i t m e n t to a

particular product class, b r a n d , or c o n s u m p t i o n a c t i v i t y " (p. 43). Other characteristics

i n c l u d e an i d e n t i f i a b l e , h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l structure; a u n i q u e ethos, or set o f shared

beliefs and values; and u n i q u e j a r g o n s , rituals, and m o d e s o f s y m b o l i c e x p r e s s i o n (p. 43).

T h e s e groups are o f interest to c o n s u m e r researchers and b r a n d marketers w h o

want to understand the structure and ethos o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n w i t h the

intention o f r e c o g n i z i n g their c o n s u m p t i o n choices and c o n s u m e r b e h a v i o r , thereby

potentially creating a r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h them. S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) p r o p o s e

that,
35

A subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n comes into existence as people i d e n t i f y w i t h certain

objects or c o n s u m p t i o n activities and, t h r o u g h those objects or activities, i d e n t i f y

w i t h other p e o p l e . . .The structure o f the subculture, w h i c h governs s o c i a l

interactions w i t h i n i t . . .is a direct r e f l e c t i o n o f the c o m m i t m e n t o f i n d i v i d u a l s to

the ethos, (p. 48)

Subcultures o f c o n s u m p t i o n g a i n e v e n m o r e interest f o r marketers as subcultural styles

are d i f f u s e d to a broader group o f c o n s u m e r s .

Hard-core or high-status m e m b e r s o f a c h i e v e d subcultures f u n c t i o n as o p i n i o n

leaders. S u b c u l t u r a l l y created styles m a y be shared or imitated b y a m u c h larger

audience or market peripheral to the core subculture and m a y even b e c o m e

imitated and c o m m e r c i a l i z e d for mass c o n s u m p t i o n . ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r ,

1995, p. 43)

In r e c o g n i t i o n o f this research, I anticipate that C a n a d i a n female surfers represent

a distinct subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n . T h i s p o p u l a t i o n is c o m m i t t e d to c o n s u m i n g surf-

themed products. T h e s e w o m e n h a v e a shared c o m m i t m e n t to these products, certain

brands, and o v e r a l l c o n s u m p t i o n activities. In essence, core f e m a l e surfers m a y m a k e

significant purchase d e c i s i o n s i n other product categories (e.g. h o m e s , cars, travel, etc.)

based o n their c o m m i t m e n t to the s u r f i n g subculture. A n understanding o f the s u r f i n g

subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n w i l l a l l o w researchers and b r a n d marketers to g a i n an

understanding o f h o w surfers o r g a n i z e their l i v e s and identities.

In order to practice the sport o f s u r f i n g one must c o n s u m e products, as s u r f i n g is a

' c o m m o d i t y - o r i e n t a t e d s u b c u l t u r e ' ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 , p. 261). T h e p r i m a r y product

essential to practice the sport o f s u r f i n g is a s u r f b o a r d , a l t h o u g h it can be argued that o n


36

the west coast o f C a n a d a , a wet suit is e q u a l l y as important. W i t h regard to the f e m a l e

sport consumer, certain brands m a y be better than others at r e c o g n i z i n g the p r o d u c t needs

and preferences o f female surfers. A s w o m e n i d e n t i f y themselves w i t h these surf-themed

products they w i l l b e g i n to i d e n t i f y w i t h others w h o share their c o m m i t m e n t to this

subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n . T h i s thesis recognizes the process o f d i f f u s i o n as s u b c u l t u r a l

style is d i f f u s e d to a broader group o f female consumers. T h e w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r

industry has c a p i t a l i z e d o n the c i r c u l a t i o n o f s u r f style to the m a i n s t r e a m market and

consequently, s u r f w e a r has gone t h r o u g h a p e r i o d o f c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n f o r mass

consumption.

Schouten and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) suggest that another characteristic o f a

subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n is an i d e n t i f i a b l e , h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l structure. In their

ethnographic w o r k w i t h H a r l e y - D a v i d s o n m o t o r c y c l e o w n e r s it was a c k n o w l e d g e d that

" S u b c u l t u r e s o f c o n s u m p t i o n d i s p l a y c o m p l e x social structures that reflect the status

differences o f i n d i v i d u a l m e m b e r s " (p. 50). Status is based o n an i n d i v i d u a l ' s

c o m m i t m e n t to the i d e o l o g y o f the subculture r a n g i n g f r o m the m o s t c o m m i t t e d (hard

core) to the less c o m m i t t e d (soft core). It is expected that a s i m i l a r structure w i l l be

i d e n t i f i a b l e i n the s u r f i n g subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n . T h e status o f a surfer is m o s t l i k e l y

based o n their c o m m i t m e n t to the sport, various products, and their l e v e l o f experience.

W h e a t o n ( 1 9 9 8 , 2 0 0 0 ) i n her analysis o f the subculture o f w i n d s u r f i n g indicates

that a w o m e n ' s status is based o n her c o m m i t m e n t to the sport and o n w i n d s u r f i n g

prowess and " n o t the c o n s p i c u o u s d i s p l a y o f equipment or subcultural s t y l e " ( 2 0 0 0 , p.

254). It c a n be argued t h o u g h that the most c o m m i t t e d , higher status w i n d s u r f e r s w o u l d

also be c o m m i t t e d to the w i n d s u r f e r s ' i d e o l o g y o f c o n s u m p t i o n i n that " T h e c o n s u m p t i o n


37

o f objects - s p e c i f i c a l l y the equipment or k i t - is central to w i n d s u r f i n g " ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 ,

p. 261). F u r t h e r m o r e , W h e a t o n (2000) noted the h o m o g e n e i t y i n w i n d s u r f e r s ' v i s u a l

appearance and she i n d i c a t e d that w i n d s u r f e r s demonstrated 'style d e n i a l ' w h i c h is

described as " s y m b o l i c resistance to the i n c o r p o r a t i o n o f s u r f style into m a i n s t r e a m

f a s h i o n and its subsequent c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n " (p. 266). A s s u c h , w i n d s u r f e r s w o r e and

purchased branded m e r c h a n d i s e but d i d n ' t want to be seen as " b u y i n g into an i m a g e " (p.

266). H o w e v e r , p u r c h a s i n g the best equipment and c l o t h i n g does not a u t o m a t i c a l l y m a k e

y o u an insider i n the subculture o f w i n d s u r f i n g , as p r o f i c i e n c y , k n o w l e d g e , and

c o m m i t m e n t to the sport are f u n d a m e n t a l l y important status s y m b o l s ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 ) . It

is anticipated that there w i l l be v i s i b l e s y m b o l s to i d e n t i f y the female surfer's p o s i t i o n i n

the subculture. T h e d i s p l a y o f equipment is'not u n e q u i v o c a l and further analysis

accessing the degree o f p r o f i c i e n c y and l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t i n the sport w i l l determine

the surfer's actual p o s i t i o n i n the subculture. A less core surfer cannot b u y their w a y into

the core o f the subculture; consequently, the d i s p l a y o f equipment is not an accurate

measure o f subcultural status. Further analysis w i l l i d e n t i f y the amount o f structure

w i t h i n the s u r f i n g subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n .

S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) i d e n t i f y several d o m i n a n t values prevalent i n

the H a r l e y ethos. T h e d o m i n a n t value i n the H a r l e y - D a v i d s o n subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n

( H D S C ) is personal f r e e d o m and the H a r l e y - D a v i d s o n m o t o r c y c l e stands f o r ' l i b e r a t i o n

f r o m c o n f i n e m e n t ' (p.52). T h e w o m e n ' s s u r f subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n w i l l y i e l d a

u n i q u e set o f core values and m e m b e r s w i l l f i n d means o f e x p r e s s i n g t h e m through the

c o n s u m p t i o n o f certain brands and their usages. A s S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995)

suggest that,
38

U n d e r l y i n g the b e h a v i o r s o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n is an i d e n t i f i a b l e ethos,

that i s , a set o f core values that are accepted to v a r y i n g degrees b y all its

adherents. T h o s e values f i n d e x p r e s s i o n i n certain products or brands and their

usages.. . c o m m i t m e n t to k e y brands and p r o d u c t usage b e h a v i o r m a y be h e l d w i t h

r e l i g i o u s intensity, even to the point o f e l e v a t i n g certain brands to the status o f

i c o n s , (p. 55)

W h e a t o n (2000) reveals that " W i n d s u r f i n g , l i k e m a n y other n e w sport subcultures s u c h

as skateboarding, s n o w b o a r d i n g , and s u r f i n g , has an anti-mainstream c o m p e t i t i o n ethos

(p. 260).

A n o t h e r characteristic o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n is the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f

self. S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) e m p h a s i z e that the,

I n d i v i d u a l ' s m o v e m e n t into and t h r o u g h the commitment-based status h i e r a r c h y

o f the H D S C constitutes a gradual transformation o f the self. L i k e m e m b e r s o f

other groups that r i g h t l y can be c a l l e d subcultures o f c o n s u m p t i o n , s u c h as

s k y d i v e r s and surfers, b i k e r s undergo an e v o l u t i o n o f m o t i v e s and a d e e p e n i n g o f

c o m m i t m e n t as they b e c o m e m o r e i n v o l v e d i n the subculture, (p. 55)

A s W h e a t o n (2000) relates, " S p o r t i n g subcultural identity is not f i x e d ; it is a

d y n a m i c process u n d e r g o i n g constant t r a n s f o r m a t i o n " (p. 2 5 8 , c.f. D o n n e l l y & Y o u n g ,

1988). In the s u r f i n g subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n , surfers and the m e d i a w i l l act as m o d e l s

for appropriate c o n s u m p t i o n b e h a v i o r ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r , 1995). A s S c h o u t e n

and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) r e c o g n i z e , " B y understanding the process o f self-transformation

undergone b y i n d i v i d u a l s w i t h i n a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n , a marketer can take an

active role i n s o c i a l i z i n g n e w m e m b e r s and c u l t i v a t i n g the c o m m i t m e n t o f current o n e s "


39

(p. 57). T h e s e researchers indicate that the c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n o f certain subcultural

products is not u n c o m m o n and use the e x a m p l e o f s u r f styles repeatedly b e i n g c o p i e d

into p o p u l a r s w i m w e a r to illustrate this point. S u b c u l t u r a l meanings undergo co-optation

into the larger f a s h i o n system ( H e b d i g e , 1979), so that the r e s u l t i n g products are

acceptable to larger segments o f m a i n s t r e a m c o n s u m e r s (Kates, 1998).

S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) c a u t i o n that,

E f f o r t s to c a p i t a l i z e o n the m a r k e t a b i l i t y o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n also

entail risks commensurate w i t h the benefits. A t t e m p t s to e x p l o i t the subculture b y

b r o a d e n i n g its appeal m a y have a d e a d l y c o r r u p t i n g i n f l u e n c e o n the subculture

itself. Part o f the p s y c h i c benefit o f b e i n g a b i k e r [surfer] is the d i s t i n c t i o n o f

b e i n g part o f a m a r g i n a l group, (p. 58)

A s a result,

T h e m a r k e t i n g consequence o f this danger is that brand m a n a g e m e n t is faced w i t h

a veritable tightrope w a l k between the c o n f l i c t i n g needs o f t w o disparate but

e q u a l l y important groups o f c o n s u m e r s : those w h o g i v e the p r o d u c t its m y s t i q u e

and those w h o g i v e the c o m p a n y its p r o f i t a b i l i t y . (Schouten & M c A l e x a n d e r ,

1995, p. 59)

It is advantageous f o r marketers to understand the structure and ethos o f a subculture o f

c o n s u m p t i o n . T h i s k n o w l e d g e m a y assist i n the s o c i a l i z a t i o n o f n e w m e m b e r s , m a y

accrue increased customer l o y a l t y , and m a y m a k e a m a r g i n a l subculture m o r e accessible

to m a i n s t r e a m consumers ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r , 1995). M y thesis was designed to

help e x p l a i n the s u r f i n g subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n and the values s p e c i f i c to m e m b e r s o f

the w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a . S c h o u t e n and


40

McAlexander (1995) suggest that "As an analytic category the subculture of consumption

solves nagging problems inherent in the use of other, a priori categorizations for the

understanding of consumption patterns" (p. 59). Although, Schouten and McAlexander

(1995) use a primarily male-dominated group of motorcycle owners to situate their

theory, these findings are equally transferable to different demographic groups and

consumption activities. For the purposes of my research it is anticipated that this overall

framework best supports the objectives of my study.

2.7 Sport Lifestyles, Identity, and Consumption

"Debates about changing contemporary Western societies have emphasized the

increasingly fluid and fragmented nature of identities, suggesting that people draw their

sense of identity from increasingly diverse sources, including sport and leisure lifestyles"

(Wheaton, 2000, p. 254). Wheaton and Tomlinson (1998) denote in their study on

windsurfing subcultures that "new sports such as windsurfing have been perceived as the

product of a post-modern society and culture in which sporting and physical activity offer

a basis for the generation of new and multiple identities (p. 252). Wheaton and

Tomlinson (1998) suggest that "The windsurfing culture is an important site of identity

creation for committed women windsurfers, an environment in which female participants

negotiate status and construct feminine identities as active sport participants" (p. 259),

"detached from their role as mothers and from their male partners" (p. 263), and "norms

of female embodiment" (p. 269). Donnelly and Young (1988) in their research into the

process of identity formation in sport subcultures, indicate that socialization into sport

subcultures is viewed as,


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A far m o r e deliberate act o f identity c o n s t r u c t i o n . [Identity is created] t h r o u g h a

variety o f means, the most s i g n i f i c a n t o f w h i c h is m o d e l i n g , i n w h i c h , the

neophyte m e m b e r begins to deliberately adopt m a n n e r i s m s , attitudes, and styles

o f dress, speech, and b e h a v i o r that he or she perceives to be characteristic o f

established m e m b e r s o f the subculture, (p. 223)

D o n n e l l y (1981) states that " T h e p r i n c i p a l p s y c h i c r e w a r d o f subcultures is that they

p r o v i d e their m e m b e r s w i t h an identity [e.g. I a m a s u r f e r ] " (p. 575).

C o n s u m p t i o n , lifestyles, and self-identity are p r o f o u n d l y l i n k e d ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 ,

p. 255). M e a n w h i l e the concept o f ' l i f e s t y l e ' is used to " d e s c r i b e the sensibilities

e m p l o y e d b y the i n d i v i d u a l i n c h o o s i n g certain c o m m o d i t i e s and patterns o f c o n s u m p t i o n

and i n articulating these cultural resources as m o d e s o f personal e x p r e s s i o n " (Bennett,

1999, p. 6 0 7 , c.f. C h a n e y 1994, 1996). T h i s d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n c o u l d essentially be construed

as h o w " i n d i v i d u a l identities are constructed and l i v e d o u t . . . [The concept o f l i f e s t y l e

regards] i n d i v i d u a l s as active consumers w h o s e c h o i c e reflects a self-constructed n o t i o n

o f i d e n t i t y " (Bennett, 1999, p. 607). Furthermore, C h a n e y (1996) states that " L i f e s t y l e s

therefore help to m a k e sense o f what people d o , and w h y they do it, and w h a t d o i n g it

means to them and o t h e r s " (p. 4). In post-modernity, the relationship between lifestyles,

self-identity, and c o n s u m p t i o n is m o r e p r o n o u n c e d . B o c o c k (1993) reveals that i n post-

m o d e r n i t y , goods b e g a n to get r e c o g n i z e d as h a v i n g s y m b o l i c value, and w o m e n as

consumers gained " s o m e c o n t r o l o v e r the m e a n i n g s to be associated w i t h c o n s u m p t i o n "

(p. 96). A s B o c o c k (1993) relates:

T h e c o n s c i o u s chosen m e a n i n g i n most p e o p l e ' s l i v e s c o m e m u c h m o r e f r o m

what they c o n s u m e than what they produce. C o n s u m e r goods h a v e b e c o m e a


42

c r u c i a l area for the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f m e a n i n g s , identities, gender roles, i n p o s t -

m o d e r n c a p i t a l i s m . C o m m o d i t i e s are not just objects o f e c o n o m i c e x c h a n g e ; they

are goods to think w i t h , goods to speak w i t h . (p. 96)

Increasingly, people are c h o o s i n g certain types o f w o r k o v e r others i n order to be

consistent w i t h l i f e s t y l e values, and this is creating a shift a w a y f r o m seeing p r o d u c t i v e

status as a basis for s o c i a l identity ( C h a n e y , 1996, p. 15). A s illustrated b y W h e a t o n and

T o m l i n s o n (1998) i n their ethnographic w o r k o n the subculture o f w i n d s u r f i n g , they

suggest that to the core m e m b e r s " w i n d s u r f i n g was a 'culture o f c o m m i t m e n t ' .

W i n d s u r f i n g was central i n their l i v e s : It o r g a n i z e d their leisure t i m e , their w o r k t i m e ,

their c h o i c e o f career, and w h e r e they l i v e d " (p. 261). F u r t h e r m o r e , i n post-modernity

w o r k roles are o f less s i g n i f i c a n c e i n p r o v i d i n g i n d i v i d u a l s w i t h a sense o f identity than

their activity as consumers ( B o c o c k , 1993). In post-modernity, " p e o p l e . . . i n c r e a s i n g l y

tend to (re)present themselves t h r o u g h w h a t they c o n s u m e . W h o one i s , is m o r e and

m o r e c o m m u n i c a t e d to others, as w e l l as to oneself, b y what one wears, d r i v e s , does

d u r i n g periods o f leisure, and so o n " (Firat, 1994, p. 2 1 7 ) . A s W a r d e (1994) outlines, a

central feature o f the s o c i a l theories o f late m o d e r n i t y and post m o d e r n i t y is the n o t i o n

that,

P e o p l e define themselves t h r o u g h the messages they transmit to others t h r o u g h

the goods and practices that they possess and d i s p l a y . T h e y m a n i p u l a t e or

manage appearances, and thereby create and sustain a " s e l f - i d e n t i t y " . In a w o r l d

w h e r e there [are] an i n c r e a s i n g n u m b e r o f c o m m o d i t i e s to act as props i n this

process, identity b e c o m e s m o r e than ever a matter o f the personal selection o f


43

self-image. Increasingly, i n d i v i d u a l s are o b l i g e d to choose their identities, (p.

878)

A s s u c h , c o n s u m p t i o n has c o m e to p l a y a s i g n i f i c a n t role i n the process o f active

identity c o n s t r u c t i o n ( B o c o c k , 1993), and for the c o m m u n i c a t i o n and maintenance o f

self-identity ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 ) . B a u d r i l l a r d (1988) c o n c e p t u a l i z e d c o n s u m p t i o n "as a

process i n w h i c h a purchaser o f an i t e m is a c t i v e l y engaged i n t r y i n g to create and

m a i n t a i n a sense o f i d e n t i t y t h r o u g h the d i s p l a y o f purchased g o o d s " ( B o c o c k , 1 9 9 3 , p.

67.) In essence, " C o n s u m p t i o n is n o w an active endeavor. It is the p r o d u c t i o n and

s i g n i f i c a t i o n o f o n e ' s self-image [identity]. It is h o w one constructs and (re)presents

(one) s e l f to o b t a i n position(s) i n soci ety and m a i n t a i n l i v e l i h o o d " (Firat, 1994, p. 2 1 7 ) .

" C o n s u m p t i o n , then, offers a sense o f c o n t r o l o v e r c o m m u n a l m e a n i n g s o f o n e s e l f and

s o c i a l relations, it offers a means o f c o n t r o l l i n g to s o m e extent the context o f e v e r y d a y

l i f e " ( F i s k e , 1989, p. 25).

Y o u t h c o n s u m e s p e c i f i c products i n the sports marketplace i n order to p r o d u c e

their self-image; and thereby, create a self-identity. T h r o u g h m a n i p u l a t i o n and

management o f appearances, y o u t h represent themselves i n a unique manner. T h e m o d e

i n w h i c h y o u t h are p e r c e i v e d b y others is central to this identity construction. B r a n d s

u t i l i z e l o g o s to differentiate themselves f r o m other products, and y o u t h use branded

goods to d i s t i n g u i s h themselves f r o m other y o u t h . T h e c o n s u m p t i o n o f ensembles o f

activities and/or products essentially creates an i d e n t i t y w h i c h gets transmitted to others,

and identities are m a l l e a b l e and v a r i e d and can change. " W h e n consumers b e c o m e

c o n s c i o u s o f the necessity to cultivate v a r i e d self-images, they b e g i n to p e r c e i v e


44

themselves as m a r k e t a b l e items and their c o n s u m p t i o n becomes a p r o d u c t i v e means f o r

(re)production o f selves (self-images)" (Firat, 1994, p. 221).

2.8 Market Trends: Women in the Sport Marketplace

It is w i d e l y d o c u m e n t e d that o n e o f the most significant trends i n sport and w i t h i n

the sport m a r k e t p l a c e is the dramatic rise and i n f l u e n c e o f w o m e n as sport c o n s u m e r s

( B r a d i s h , L a t h r o p , & S e d g w i c k , 2 0 0 1 ; B r a n c h , 1995; L o u g h , 1996; S h o h a m , R o s e ,

K r o p p , & K a h l e , 1997; Sparks & Westgate, 2 0 0 2 ; Sutton & W a t l i n g t o n , 1994). T h i s

increased prevalence o f f e m a l e c o n s u m e r s i n the sport marketplace and o f w o m e n ' s

sports i n general has been attributed to a n u m b e r o f factors i n c l u d i n g : increased

opportunities f o r females as sport participants at a l l levels o f sport, a n increase i n the

n u m b e r o f female sport spectators, a gradual shift t o w a r d cultural acceptance o f females

i n sport settings, enhanced m e d i a interest i n w o m e n ' s sport, the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f q u a l i t y

sport products d e s i g n e d s p e c i f i c a l l y f o r w o m e n , a n d increased d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g a n d

p u r c h a s i n g p o w e r o f w o m e n . In a d d i t i o n , there is a p e r c e p t i o n that m a n y male-

d o m i n a t e d sport markets are n o w saturated a n d stagnant w h i l e w o m e n have increased

their c o n s u m p t i o n o f sport a n d sport-related products and account f o r a n i n c r e a s i n g share

o f the sport c o n s u m p t i o n d o l l a r ( B r a d i s h et a l . , 2 0 0 1 ; B r a n c h , 1995; Sutton &

W a t l i n g t o n , 1994). In m a n y different realms o f sport, w o m e n are b e i n g r e c o g n i z e d as a

distinct and p o w e r f u l market segment. W o m e n h a v e b e e n sport participants and

spectators f o r quite s o m e t i m e h o w e v e r , the manner i n w h i c h w o m e n are v i e w e d b y sport

marketers a n d advertisers as a desirable target market is c h a n g i n g ( B r a n c h , 1995).

" W o m e n are n o w b e i n g v i e w e d as a unique and g r o w i n g target market segment, a g r o u p


45

to be r e c o g n i z e d and d u l y considered w h e n sport property-rights holders and marketers

b e g i n d e l i b e r a t i n g their p r o d u c t ' s p o s i t i o n and c o n c e p t " ( B r a n c h , p. 9).

In the m i d s t o f these recent market trends, y o u n g w o m e n have emerged as an

important sub-segment for sport, sport-related products, and sport marketers, and m a y

p r o v i d e g r o w t h f o r t r a d i t i o n a l l y male-oriented c o m p a n i e s and industries ( S h o h a m et a l . ,

1997). T h e d e m o g r a p h i c segment i d e n t i f i e d as G e n e r a t i o n Y and understood as c h i l d r e n

o f the b a b y b o o m e r s and b o r n after 1978 c o m p r i s e s t o d a y ' s pre-teen and teens. T h i s

generation is regarded as the fastest g r o w i n g d e m o g r a p h i c group o n the continent

( B r a d i s h et a l . , 2 0 0 1 ) , and is r a c i a l l y diverse ( N e u b o r n e , 1992). In C a n a d a alone,

G e n e r a t i o n Y has been i d e n t i f i e d as a g r o u p that represents almost $ 1.4 b i l l i o n w o r t h o f

" r e a l s p e n d i n g p o w e r " b o t h i n terms o f d i s p o s a b l e i n c o m e and i n terms o f eventual

inherited w e a l t h ( B r a d i s h et a l . , 2 0 0 1 , p. 2 0 ; c . f , Steinberg, 1998). W i t h i n this segment it

is important to note that female pre-teens and teens have emerged as distinct c o n s u m e r s .

S p o r t i n g g o o d manufacturers are b e g i n n i n g to r e c o g n i z e the market potential o f this

p r e v i o u s l y u n e x p l o r e d d e m o g r a p h i c . T h i s generation has an i m p a c t o n major purchase

d e c i s i o n s w i t h i n their h o u s e h o l d , i n a d d i t i o n to d e c i d i n g h o w to spend their o w n m o n e y

( B r a d i s h et a l . , 2 0 0 1 ) . T h o s e c o m p a n i e s w h o choose to ignore the b u y i n g p o w e r o f this

generation w i l l threaten the v e r y future o f their brands. U n l i k e , G e n e r a t i o n X that w a s n ' t

large e n o u g h to threaten b o o m e r brands, G e n e r a t i o n Y , b o r n between 1979 and 1994, is

substantial e n o u g h to l a u n c h r i v a l brands that can j e o p a r d i z e the success and/or existence

o f b o o m e r b r a n d names. T h i s generation g r e w up i n a media-saturated, b r a n d c o n s c i o u s

w o r l d , and respond to ads d i f f e r e n t l y than their parents ( N e u b o r n e , 1999). T h i s

generation w i l l be i n c r e a s i n g l y b r a n d l o y a l to those c o m p a n i e s that craft products and


46

pitches that are m o r e realistic and m o r e representative o f their values. In a matter o f a

f e w years, this generation w i l l be b u y i n g their first cars, h o m e s , and m u t u a l funds. T h e

b u y i n g habits they d i s p l a y t o d a y w i l l lead them into their first k e y purchases o f y o u n g

a d u l t h o o d ( N e u b o r n e , 1999). T h e y o u t h d e m o g r a p h i c has tremendous c o n s u m e r i m p a c t

and b u y i n g p o w e r , and f o r w a r d - t h i n k i n g c o m p a n i e s w i l l tend to f o r m relationships w i t h

these consumers n o w , i n order to r e m a i n c o m p e t i t i v e i n the future.

W h i l e m u c h research has e x a m i n e d the b a b y - b o o m and G e n e r a t i o n X n i c h e

markets, r e l a t i v e l y f e w studies have e x a m i n e d the G e n e r a t i o n Y f e m a l e sport c o n s u m e r

( B r a d i s h et a l . , 2 0 0 1 ) . A s Steinberg (1998) a c k n o w l e d g e s , " F o r a l l the m o n e y and effort

b e i n g p o u r e d into the market, there remains an a w f u l s y m m e t r y . . .as a generation [they

are] s k e p t i c a l , m e d i a - s a v v y and almost preposterously w e l l - i n f o r m e d about the w o r l d

around t h e m , yet w e k n o w v e r y little about t h e m " (p. 61). T h e s e recent changes i n the

sport marketplace illustrates the need for further research w i t h this d e m o g r a p h i c .

A c c o r d i n g l y , B r a d i s h , L a t h r o p and S e d g w i c k (2001) p u b l i s h e d a study that

e x a m i n e s the female pre-teen and teen as a distinct segment o f the sport m a r k e t p l a c e .

T h i s study d r e w its s a m p l e f r o m a group o f f e m a l e participants w h o attended an elite

sport c a m p that p r i m a r i l y offered elite-level basketball and v o l l e y b a l l . " S u b j e c t s w e r e

s u r v e y e d to e x a m i n e c o n s u m e r and p s y c h o s o c i a l characteristics relative to s o c i a l and

cultural i n f l u e n c e s , p s y c h o l o g i c a l and personal-trait b e h a v i o r s , and c o n s u m e r b e h a v i o r

and m a r k e t i n g preferences s p e c i f i c to the sport marketplace i n general and the s p o r t i n g

g o o d marketplace i n p a r t i c u l a r " ( B r a d i s h et a l . , p. 19). T h i s s a m p l e reported its most,

frequent sport purchases to be c l o t h i n g ( 5 5 . 4 % ) , f o l l o w e d b y shoes ( 3 4 . 9 % ) and

equipment ( 4 . 8 % ) . T h e s e i n d i v i d u a l s also v i e w e d themselves as h i g h l y engaged i n their


47

own sport participation and consumer decisions. With regard to choice of name brand

and style of sport product, self was the greatest influence (53.5%), followed by mother

(8.2%) and female friends (6.1%). This analysis "demonstrates the strength and growth

of female sport consumers as sport-product decision makers and spenders, and signals

their identification as a key niche or target market segment within the sport marketplace"

(Bradish et a l , p. 19).

These findings may not be transferable to other consumer groups; however, this

research is beneficial to sport marketers by providing insight into this virtually untapped

market segment. Sport marketers will benefit with an improved understanding of

generational differences in the women's sport market. Furthermore, this study

demonstrates the need for future research focusing on the female sport consumer in other

realms of sport and within the context of sport subcultures to form a broader

understanding of this consumer group. "Sporting good manufacturers understanding

these consumer preferences is crucial to making more informed decisions about their

sport consumers to sustain further long-term organization success" (p. 20). Bradish,

Lathrop, and Sedgwick (2001) suggest that,

The Generation Y female sport consumer is elite and informed, possessing a clear

articulation of needs and consumer preferences. When one considers the

synergistic effect of the rising phenomenon of women's sports and the echo-boom

generation, the pre-teen/teen female may well be one of the most influential

markets of the future, (p. 23)

Combining these two trends of women as sport consumers and the buying power

of Generation Y has created a manifold of sport marketing opportunities. Women are no


48

longer treated as an afterthought i n the m i n d s o f sport marketers, p r o m o t e r s , and

corporate advertisers as marketers b e g i n to r e c o g n i z e the potential f i n a n c i a l i n f l u e n c e o f

this sector ( B r a d i s h et a l , 2 0 0 1 ) . " A s a c o n s u m e r g r o u p , w o m e n n o w possess the

m a r k e t i n g potential to m a k e a s i g n i f i c a n t impact u p o n the b o t t o m l i n e o f c o n s u m e r and

spectator sport o r g a n i z a t i o n s that are w i l l i n g to c o n s i d e r these o b v i o u s trends i n the sport

m a r k e t p l a c e " ( B r a n c h , 1995, p. 10). T h i s d e m o g r a p h i c shift i n the sport m a r k e t p l a c e is

c a u s i n g sport marketers to adjust their strategies i n hopes o f o b t a i n i n g the support o f this .

segment. It is suggested that i n order to g a i n the support o f this generation, marketers

must m a k e their pitches m o r e realistic, and m a k e their c a m p a i g n s m o r e l o c a l and subtle

( N e u b o r n e , 1999). In order to secure b r a n d l o y a l t y w i t h the female sport c o n s u m e r w h o

has a heightened s e n s i t i v i t y to s o c i a l issues and corporate r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , it is also

cautioned that marketers must change the tone i n w h i c h they speak to w o m e n (Sutton &

W a t l i n g t o n , 1994).

B r a n d l o y a l t y is an important concept f o r brand marketers to c o n s i d e r w h e n

i n t r o d u c i n g or e x p a n d i n g their brands into the w o m e n ' s sport m a r k e t p l a c e . B r a n d l o y a l t y

d e f i n e d b y A a k e r (1991) is the a b i l i t y to attract and retain customers. B r a n d l o y a l t y is

one o f four measures o f brand equity d e f i n e d b y K e l l e r (1998) as " m a r k e t i n g effects

u n i q u e l y attributable to the b r a n d " (p. 4 2 ) , and is one c o m p o n e n t used to "[evaluate] the

relative strength o f c o n s u m e r b r a n d s " ( G l a d d e n , M i l n e , and Sutton, 1998, p. 1). The

emphasis i n e s t a b l i s h i n g b r a n d equity is o n customer satisfaction. C u s t o m e r l o y a l t y is

c r i t i c a l to brand marketers and " t o m a i n t a i n i n g p r o f i t a b i l i t y because a l o y a l c u s t o m e r

base p r o v i d e s a p r o f i t s t r e a m " (p. 3). A l t h o u g h a l l f o u r c o m p o n e n t s : p e r c e i v e d q u a l i t y ,

brand awareness, b r a n d association, and b r a n d l o y a l t y contribute to brand equity, the


49

concept o f brand l o y a l t y w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d as a c r i t i c a l element o f m a r k e t i n g strategies

targeting the female sport consumer. A brand i t s e l f can be defined as " A name, term,

sign, s y m b o l , or c o m b i n a t i o n o f them w h i c h is intended to i d e n t i f y the goods and services

o f one seller or group o f sellers and to differentiate t h e m from those o f c o m p e t i t o r s "

( K o t l e r , 1991, p. 4 4 2 ) . B r a n d representatives o f s u r f brands are an a p r i o r i group i n m y

interviews to d o c u m e n t the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and to g a i n an understanding o f

the w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r industry f r o m the perspective o f the b r a n d creators.

O n e o f the most effective strategies i n m a r k e t i n g sport and sport products to

w o m e n is l i k e l y to be l i f e s t y l e m a r k e t i n g (Sutton & W a t l i n g t o n , 1994). Lifestyle

m a r k e t i n g is a "strategy for s e i z i n g the concept o f a m a r k e t a c c o r d i n g to its m o s t

m e a n i n g f u l recurrent patterns o f attitudes and activities, and subsequently t a i l o r i n g

products and their p r o m o t i o n a l strategies to fit these patterns" (p. 12). In order f o r a

c o m p a n y to g a i n the long-term c o m m i t m e n t o f the w o m e n ' s sport market, it is essential

for marketers to research f e m a l e consumers and their lifestyles i n order " t o create

products that f i l l a n i c h e f o r that [particular] m a r k e t " (p. 13). A s s u c h ,

C o m p a n i e s and sponsors s e e k i n g to target and reach the female c o n s u m e r must

demonstrate the a b i l i t y to not o n l y understand the lifestyles and interests o f

w o m e n , but to e f f e c t i v e l y c o m m u n i c a t e the i m a g e and d i r e c t i o n o f the c o m p a n y

as c o m p a t i b l e w i t h that l i f e s t y l e and image. (Sutton & W a t l i n g t o n , p. 11; c . f ,

H o w e l l , 1993)

In essence, the k e y f o r sport o r g a n i z a t i o n s and sport-related businesses is i n the " d e s i g n

o f strategies that appeal to a w o m a n ' s sensitivities t o w a r d quality, p r i c e value(s),

feelings, and e m o t i o n a l w e l l - b e i n g " ( B r a n c h , 1995, p. 12).


50

T h e g r o w t h o f the s u r f i n g industry has been i m p a c t e d b y the support and

e x p a n s i o n o f w o m e n ' s s u r f brands. A concept that is important to the g r o w t h o f the

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n d u s t r y is ' n i c h e m a r k e t i n g ' . A c c o r d i n g to S h a n i (1997), n i c h e m a r k e t i n g

" i s a b o t t o m up a p p r o a c h . . .The marketer starts b y i d e n t i f y i n g the needs o f f e w customers

(niche i n the market) and g r a d u a l l y b u i l d s up a customer base large e n o u g h to create a

market niche (a n i c h e i n the market that has a sufficient s i z e to p u r s u e ) " (p. 10).

A n i c h e can start w i t h a core group o f customers w h o are i n v o l v e d i n a u n i q u e

sport a c t i v i t y . . . A n i c h e strategy requires the o r g a n i z a t i o n to focus o n its core

(best) c u s t o m e r s . . . W i t h such a r e l a t i v e l y s m a l l customer base, c o m p a n i e s must

b u i l d long-term relationships to create a v e r y l o y a l group o f customers, (p. 11)

T h e m e t h o d o l o g y chosen for this study identifies these m a r k e t i n g issues and s h o u l d result

i n an i m p r o v e d u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f h o w important the core w o m e n surfers are to the b r a n d

m a n u f a c t u r e r ' s c u s t o m e r base. Other m a r k e t i n g strategies w i l l l i k e l y be i m p l e m e n t e d b y

b r a n d manufacturers n o w that a r e c o g n i z a b l e n i c h e has spread to a larger segment o f

female c o n s u m e r s o f s u r f wear. T h e s e different m a r k e t i n g strategies w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d

and d e s c r i b e d i n further detail later p e n d i n g their i m p o r t a n c e to the interviewees i n this

research. W o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n effect c o m p r i s e s a n i c h e market w i t h i n the sport o f s u r f i n g

and w i t h i n the o v e r a l l f r a m e w o r k o f w o m e n ' s c o n s u m e r markets.


51

CHAPTER III - M E T H O D O L O G Y
Rationale

T h i s thesis b u i l d s o n the ethnographic research conducted b y S c h o u t e n and

M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) and W h e a t o n (2000), and f o l l o w e d a s i m i l a r ethnographic d e s i g n

for c o l l e c t i n g i n f o r m a t i o n u s i n g participant observation and interviews. T h e study d e s i g n

encompassed three different p o p u l a t i o n s : w o m e n surfers, retailers, and C a n a d i a n

representatives o f s u r f b r a n d manufacturers. In each case the impetus was o n g a i n i n g an

understanding o f the w o m e n ' s s u r f scene and the s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y f r o m the perspective

o f each respective group. In this w a y , it was anticipated that a m u l t i - d i m e n s i o n a l v i e w

w o u l d be obtained and the m a i n objectives o f the study w o u l d be met: i) to c r i t i c a l l y

e x a m i n e h o w the m a r k e t i n g o f s u r f products affects s u r f i n g lifestyles and product

c o n s u m p t i o n , and ii) to assess h o w s u r f lifestyles and products, i n turn, b e c o m e d i f f u s e d

to a larger p o p u l a t i o n o f y o u n g w o m e n and girls.

A data c o l l e c t i o n strategy was d e v e l o p e d that encompassed m u l t i p l e sources o f

i n f o r m a t i o n i n c l u d i n g tape-recorded i n t e r v i e w s , photographs, f i e l d notes, i n t e r v i e w notes

and d o c u m e n t analysis. One-to-one, semi-structured i n t e r v i e w s w e r e p l a n n e d to be

conducted i n person or v i a the telephone. T h i s approach " c o m b i n e ( s ) u n i f o r m i t y o f

q u e s t i o n i n g w i t h openness to n e w i n f o r m a t i o n " (Sparks and Westgate, 2 0 0 2 , p. 65), and

was c o n s i d e r e d o p t i m a l f o r the k i n d s o f i n f o r m a t i o n that w e r e anticipated. In particular,

since o n l y l i m i t e d research h a d been done o n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , " o p e n n e s s to n e w

i n f o r m a t i o n " was seen as a c r i t i c a l c o n d i t i o n f o r the interviews. In a d d i t i o n to tape-

r e c o r d i n g , data c o l l e c t i o n i n c l u d e d t a k i n g photographs, f i e l d notes and i n t e r v i e w notes.

F i e l d notes w e r e intended to r e c o r d any i n f o r m a t i o n that w o u l d enable a better

understanding o f the w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g subculture and the s u r f w e a r industry, i n c l u d i n g


52

i n f o r m a t i o n about s u r f i n g locales, retail store lay-out and product d i s p l a y space, and

social relational features s u c h as p e o p l e ' s interactions, dress codes, speech and

m a n n e r i s m s . A d e s c r i p t i o n o f w h o was present, what was h a p p e n i n g , and w h e r e the

observation t o o k place was i n c l u d e d i n the note-taking p r o t o c o l (Neutens and R u b i n s o n ,

1997).

T h r e e i n t e r v i e w guides w e r e d e v e l o p e d (see A p p e n d i x I V ) to a c c o m m o d a t e the

three p o p u l a t i o n s . T h e questions w e r e c o m m o n across the guides, and w e r e d e s i g n e d to

elicit d i s c u s s i o n s ' a b o u t s u r f i n g identities, the s u r f i n g l i f e s t y l e , and the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f

identity t h r o u g h b r a n d c o n s u m p t i o n , as w e l l as perceptions o f the s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y ,

b r a n d i n g , and m a r k e t i n g . In this w a y , the i n t e r v i e w s w e r e expected to p r o v i d e data

appropriate to the research questions o f the study. T h e length o f the i n t e r v i e w s w a s set at

30 to 90 minutes. T h e interviews w e r e intended to be i n f o r m a l and interviewees w o u l d

be encouraged to be spontaneous and interactive, f o c u s i n g o n their i n d i v i d u a l

perceptions, an approach that has been termed a " c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h a p u r p o s e " (see

H a m m e r s l e y and A t k i n s o n , 1995). F o r this reason, use o f an audio-recorder was p l a n n e d

i n order to facilitate this process.

A data analysis strategy was also d e v e l o p e d . T h i s i n v o l v e d first t r a n s c r i b i n g the

f i e l d notes and audio-recordings o f i n t e r v i e w s , then r e v i e w i n g the transcripts for m a j o r

themes and sub-themes w i t h i n the context o f the research questions f o r the study

f o l l o w i n g an i n d u c t i v e approach. T h e i d e a w a s to g r o u p data together and l o o k f o r

s i m i l a r i t i e s and differences across the responses, and thereby b u i l d the k e y themes f r o m

the b o t t o m up ( P a l y s , 1997).
53

Sample

T h e s a m p l i n g m e t h o d used f o r the study was p u r p o s i v e s a m p l i n g . A s P a l y s

(1997) e x p l a i n , p u r p o s i v e s a m p l i n g is used w h e n " p e o p l e or l o c a t i o n s are i n t e n t i o n a l l y

sought because they meet some criteria f o r i n c l u s i o n i n the s t u d y " (p. 137). F o r the

purposes o f this study, I r e c o g n i z e d three a p r i o r i g r o u p s : surfers, s u r f w e a r retailers, and

C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d representatives. F i f t e e n i n d i v i d u a l s f r o m these three target

populations w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d 1) w o m e n surfers (n=5), 2) s u r f w e a r retailers (n=5), and 3)

C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d representatives (n=5). I sent each potential participant a recruitment

letter (see A p p e n d i x II) and a consent f o r m (see A p p e n d i x III) i n v i t i n g their p a r t i c i p a t i o n

i n this study.

T w o f e m a l e surfers w e r e recruited f r o m a W e s t C o a s t s u r f i n g c o m m u n i t y t h r o u g h

a l o c a l s u r f s c h o o l for w o m e n - o n l y . T h e o w n e r o f the s u r f s c h o o l w a s one o f the

i n t e r v i e w participants. T h e s u r f s c h o o l w a s i d e n t i f i e d f r o m the W o r l d W i d e W e b . Three

a d d i t i o n a l surfers w e r e recruited t h r o u g h conversations w i t h other surfers and t h r o u g h

r e c o m m e n d a t i o n s f r o m s u r f industry p r o f e s s i o n a l s . T h e s e surfers w e r e selected o n the

basis o f their p o s i t i o n i n g i n the s u r f i n g subculture, that is, their age, and level/type o f

subcultural i n v o l v e m e n t . F i v e s u r f w e a r retailers w e r e selected f r o m c o m p a n y w e b sites

and t h r o u g h w o r d o f m o u t h . I recruited retailers i n the V a n c o u v e r L o w e r M a i n l a n d w h o

sell s u r f m e r c h a n d i s e and h a v e a g i r l s ' designated area at their store. F u r t h e r m o r e , I

recruited C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d representatives w h o represent large market s u r f brands for

females. T h e s e representatives w e r e recruited i n the same m a n n e r the retailers w e r e and

they h a d the authority to speak o n the b e h a l f o f the b r a n d manufacturers.


54

All participants were over the British Columbia age of majority and were able to

give consent for themselves. Individuals who consented to participate were interviewed

by Lisa Mercer at the location of their home, office, or an agreed upon location. In the

event that a face-to-face interview was not feasible, a telephone interview was arranged.

Ethical Considerations

For this research, I received ethics approval on March 27, 2003 from the

University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (see Appendix I).

This research posed minimal potential risks to the participants of this study. Subjects

may have felt uncomfortable being interviewed or talking in the presence of a tape-

recorder. The interviews took place in a comfortable environment chosen at the

interviewee's discretion to minimize any discomfort. Furthermore, no proprietary or

revealing 'inside' information was requested that could threaten their job or business.

Additionally, participants were given the option to refuse to answer any particular

questions during the interview process, and were able to withdraw from the interview and

or study at any time without question. Strict confidentiality was maintained and findings

were summarized anonymously. Access to the data was restricted to the Principal

Investigator, Dr. Robert Sparks, and the Co-investigator, Lisa Mercer, who reviewed their

responsibilities for confidentiality and identified a locking file cabinet, computer system

and laboratory procedures for insuring confidentiality.


CHAPTER IV - RESULTS

T h i s chapter focuses o n the m a i n f i n d i n g s o f m y ethnographic i n q u i r y into the

w o m e n ' s s u r f culture i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a , and the m a r k e t i n g activities o f the C a n a d i a n

s u r f wear industry. T h e research w a s undertaken to i d e n t i f y k e y factors that have

affected the d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a and to a d d to o u r

understanding o f the interplay o f subcultures and m a r k e t i n g i n C a n a d i a n c o n s u m e r

culture. T h r e e inter-related and unique groups were studied: w o m e n surfers, retailers,

C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d representatives.

Data Collection and Analysis

Interviews

Semi-structured i n t e r v i e w s w e r e c o n d u c t e d w i t h 5 w o m e n surfers, 5 s u r f w e a r

retailers, and 5 C a n a d i a n s u r f brand representatives. O f the s u r f w e a r retailers

i n t e r v i e w e d , f o u r w e r e m a l e and one w a s female. T w o o f the retail spaces w e r e located

i n N o r t h V a n c o u v e r and three w e r e located i n V a n c o u v e r . T h r e e o f the stores h a d an

adjacent w o m e n ' s store w i t h a separate store entrance. T w o o f the stores d i v i d e d their

space between w o m e n ' s and m e n ' s product o f f e r i n g s . T h r e e o f the stores w e r e suppliers

o f other b o a r d sports equipment, and t w o stores carried strictly b e a c h w e a r and s u r f

fashions. A l l o f the retailers h a d w o m e n m a k i n g the b u y i n g d e c i s i o n s f o r the w o m e n ' s

products i n the store. T h r e e o f the s u r f b r a n d representatives w h o w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d w e r e

female and t w o w e r e male. T w o o f the representatives w e r e based i n W h i s t l e r ; t w o

resided i n V a n c o u v e r , a n d one i n the L o w e r M a i n l a n d . F o u r o f the brands w e r e s u r f

brands and o n e w a s a l i f e s t y l e b r a n d . A s c a n be expected, a l l the surfers i n t e r v i e w e d


56

w e r e female. T w o o f the surfers l i v e d i n T o f i n o , and three resided i n the Greater

V a n c o u v e r area. A l l f i v e o f the participants h a d been s u r f i n g f o r a m i n i m u m o f 5 years.

In all cases, p s e u d o n y m s are used throughout the thesis to protect the identities o f the

study participants. T a b l e s 1, 2, and 3 describe the i n t e r v i e w participants and the context

o f the interviews.

These i n t e r v i e w s w e r e c o n d u c t e d between June 1 1 , 2003 and September 5 ,


t h th

2003 and ranged i n duration f r o m 30 to 90 m i n u t e s . A l l three groups w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d

a c c o r d i n g to their a v a i l a b i l i t y and as a result it was not u n c o m m o n to meet w i t h a retailer

and a s u r f b r a n d representative o n the same day. T e n o f the i n t e r v i e w s w e r e c o n d u c t e d

face-to-face i n the greater V a n c o u v e r area. T h e s e i n t e r v i e w s t o o k p l a c e at the

participant's o f f i c e or place o f business (six) or at a neutral l o c a t i o n s u c h as a coffee shop

or outdoors (four). F i v e i n t e r v i e w s w e r e c o n d u c t e d v i a telephone because o f the

geographic l o c a t i o n o f the participants or their c o n f l i c t i n g w o r k c o m m i t m e n t s . T w o o f

the telephone i n t e r v i e w s w e r e c o n d u c t e d w i t h s u r f instructors i n T o f i n o and three o f t h e m

w e r e w i t h C a n a d i a n s u r f b r a n d representatives, t w o w e r e based out o f W h i s t l e r , and one

in Vancouver.

Table 1 S u r f B r a n d Retailers
Identifiers Gender Interview F o r m a t Store L o c a t i o n Store L a y o u t
R e t a i l e r #1 Male P e r s o n to P e r s o n North Vancouver W o m e n ' s and m e n ' s
(R-l,Dan) s p e c i f i c stores *
R e t a i l e r #2 Male Person to Person Vancouver W o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c store
(R-2, P h i l ) w i t h s o m e m e n ' s product
R e t a i l e r #3 Male Person to Person North Vancouver W o m e n ' s and m e n ' s
(R-3, C o l i n ) s p e c i f i c stores
R e t a i l e r #4 Male P e r s o n to Person Vancouver W o m e n ' s and m e n ' s
(R-4, Scott) s p e c i f i c stores *
Retailer #5 Female P e r s o n to P e r s o n Vancouver W o m e n ' s and m e n ' s
(R-5, S u z y ) shared store
* N o t e : These stores w e r e j o i n e d but had different store names and entrances.
57

Table 2 Canadian Surf Brand Representatives


Identifiers Gender Interview F o r m a t Representatives Brands Target
Location Identity Market
Brand Male Person to Person Vancouver - Roots i n A l l ages
Representative #1 Fashion Exchange Surfing
(B-l, Liam)
Brand Male T e l e p h o n e Interview Whistler Roots i n 13-18 year
Representative #2 Surfing olds
(B-2,Jason)
Brand Female P e r s o n to Person Lower Mainland Lifestyle 10-22 year
Representative #3 Brand olds
(B-3, J a c k y )
Brand Female T e l e p h o n e Interview Vancouver Roots i n 14-25 year
Representative #4 Surfing olds
(B-4, T r i s h )
Brand Female T e l e p h o n e Interview Whistler Roots i n 16-28 year
Representative $5 Surfing olds
(B-5, Leanne)

Table 3 Women Surfers


Identifiers Home Location Interview F o r m a t Years Surfing
Surfer #1 Tofino T e l e p h o n e Interview 16 years
(S-l,Kendra)
Surfer #2 Vancouver P e r s o n to P e r s o n 5 years
(S-2, M a r l e y )
Surfer # 3 Vancouver Person to Person 8.5 years
(S-3, B r o o k e )
Surfer # 4 Tofino T e l e p h o n e Interview 5.5 years
(S-4, A n n )
Surfer #5 Vancouver P e r s o n to Person 7 years
(S-5, Stephanie)
N o t e : T h e n u m b e r o f years s u r f i n g reflects the amount r e c o r d e d at the t i m e o f the
interview.

T h e i n t e r v i e w questions had 9 to 12 m a i n probes that h e l p e d guide the i n t e r v i e w s

(see A p p e n d i x I V ) . T h e m a i n questions often generated further d i s c u s s i o n . S o m e o f the

responses o v e r l a p p e d w i t h other questions i n the i n t e r v i e w guide w h i l e , other responses

were short and r e q u i r e d considerable p r o b i n g . T h e participants responded quite

d i f f e r e n t l y and the f l o w and tone o f the i n t e r v i e w s can b e seen i n their c o m m e n t s w h i c h I


58

have p r o v i d e d to h e l p illustrate the f i n d i n g s . A l l i n t e r v i e w s , b o t h face-to-face and b y

telephone, w e r e audio taped and then transcribed into a M i c r o s o f t W o r d ™ c o m p u t e r file.

Data analysis software w a s not used. D u e to the fragmented nature o f the responses, the

i n t e r v i e w s w e r e later re-transcribed to ensure their accuracy. T h e data analysis entailed

r e v i e w i n g the transcripts for major themes and sub-themes w i t h i n the context o f the

major research questions f o r the study. T h e transcripts w e r e r e v i e w e d m a n y times a n d

s i m i l a r responses w e r e o r g a n i z e d into potential categories. T h e s e categories w e r e

t h o r o u g h l y r e v i e w e d and cross-compared and w e r e further o r g a n i z e d into nine k e y areas.

T h e i n t e r v i e w responses w e r e arranged into these nine areas and passages w e r e selected

that w e r e representative o f the k i n d o f statements that w e r e made. T h e quotes a n d

c o m m e n t s m a d e d u r i n g the course o f the i n t e r v i e w s are representative o f the g r a m m a r

and w o r d c h o i c e u t i l i z e d i n context i n the conversations and d i s c u s s i o n s that t o o k place.

Participant/Non-Participant Observation

T h e participant/non-participant o b s e r v a t i o n c o m p o n e n t o f the study i n v o l v e d

three separate trips to T o f i n o d u r i n g the p e r i o d o f m y data c o l l e c t i o n . T h e s e trips w e r e

o r g a n i z e d i n order to grasp a clear u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the w o m e n ' s s u r f scene i n W e s t e r n

C a n a d a and to g a i n access to w o m e n surfers. T h e first trip to T o f i n o t o o k place o n June

13 - 1 5 , 2003 d u r i n g w h i c h I w a s a spectator at the R o x y / Q u i k s i l v e r S u m m e r S u r f J a m .


th th

T h i s event enabled m e to observe the presence o f m e d i a , sponsors, spectators, and the

c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f scene i n C a n a d a . T h i s trip also i n v o l v e d observations at s u r f breaks,

s u r f stores, and at s u r f s c h o o l s i n order to g a i n an understanding o f the l o c a l s u r f culture.

th th
T h e next trip t o o k place f r o m A u g u s t 7 -12 , 2 0 0 3 and i n v o l v e d v i s i t i n g U c l u e l e t , L o n g
59

B e a c h , and n u m e r o u s s u r f businesses. I had several i n f o r m a l conversations w i t h w o m e n

surfers and m a d e contact w i t h s u r f instructors and s u r f s c h o o l participants for future

conversations and i n t e r v i e w s . T h e last trip f o l l o w e d m y last f o r m a l i n t e r v i e w and took

place f r o m September 12-14 , 2003 d u r i n g w h i c h I w a s an active participant at the R o x y


th

S u r f Sister S u r f C a m p . S e v e r a l i n f o r m a l conversations o c c u r r e d w i t h c a m p participants

and instructors and I recorded n u m e r o u s f i e l d notes.

Photographs and Field Notes

Photographs w e r e u t i l i z e d to capture the l i v e d experience and enable m e to reflect

o n the scene, the styles, w h o w a s there, and what w a s h a p p e n i n g . F i e l d notes were used

to record observations o f the s u r f scene, and the s u r f w e a r industry. D e m o g r a p h i c

i n f o r m a t i o n about the participants w a s recorded i n a d d i t i o n to what o c c u r r e d , the m o o d

and tone o f the event and the t i m e and l o c a t i o n o f the observation. T h e f i e l d notes often

f o l l o w e d visits to retail stores and d e p i c t e d the store lay-out and product d i s p l a y space.

S o c i a l relational features w e r e recorded s u c h as p e o p l e ' s interactions, dress codes, speech

and m a n n e r i s m s . T h e d e m o g r a p h i c s o f the consumers and the e m p l o y e e s that were

present i n the store w e r e i n c l u d e d i n the notes. T h e f i e l d notes w e r e later transcribed into

a M i c r o s o f t W o r d ™ c o m p u t e r f i l e for analysis.

Surf Media

D u r i n g the p e r i o d o f m y data c o l l e c t i o n I t o o k it u p o n m y s e l f to b e c o m e f a m i l i a r

w i t h p u b l i c a t i o n s targeting surfers as w e l l as, a c t i o n sport participants. T h i s enabled m e

to d e v e l o p an a p p r e c i a t i o n o f the coverage o f w o m e n surfers and the placement o f


60

women surfers in advertisements and the manner in which they were displayed.

Furthermore, my continued review o f surfing media also enabled me to stay up to date on

trends in the surf wear industry and better prepare myself for my conversations and

interviews with surfers and surf industry representatives. Early on, it was evident that

Surf Snow Skate G i r l (SG) was the voice for North American women involved in board

sports. Aside from reviewing publications, I viewed surf movies and documentaries in

order to visualize the trends that were occurring in surfing globally and to gain an

understanding o f the increased representation o f women in surf media. Through the

analysis o f surfing websites, I was also able to document some o f the changes that were

occurring in Canadian surfing and gain a means o f contacting potential participants for

my study.

Organization of the Chapter

The chapter is organized in nine sections that reflect the nine key conditions that

were found during the analysis: (1) the surf scene in British Columbia; (2) factors fueling

the growth o f Canadian women's surfing; (3) the appeal o f the surf culture; (4) evidence

of consumption; (5) evidence o f subcultural features and conditions; (6) surfing is a

'commodity-orientated subculture'; (7) link between identity, lifestyles, and

consumption; (8) diffusion o f surf lifestyles and products into the mainstream; and (9)

role o f media in the diffusion o f surf lifestyles.


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4.1 The Surf Scene in British Columbia

D u r i n g data c o l l e c t i o n , I used photographs and f i e l d notes to d o c u m e n t the

C a n a d i a n s u r f scene as I p e r s o n a l l y encountered it. T h e f o l l o w i n g excerpt f r o m m y f i e l d

notes at the T o f i n o S u m m e r S u r f J a m (2003), h e l p to illustrate the subject o f the study,

and p r o v i d e a u s e f u l point o f departure f o r s u m m a r i z i n g m y f i n d i n g s .

E v e n i n the presence o f c o m p e t i t i o n and s t o r m y c o n d i t i o n s the scene at the 2003

R o x y / Q u i k s i l v e r S u r f J a m is m e l l o w and relaxed. T h e w a r m s u m m e r

temperatures that the C o a s t experi enced all w e e k p r i o r to the contest dissipated

q u i c k l y e n o u g h to p r o d u c e a w i n t e r s i z e s w e l l the first d a y o f c o m p e t i t i o n .

E q u a l l y i m p r e s s i v e is the n u m b e r o f spectators w h o b r a v e d w i n d squalls and r a i n

to w a t c h l o c a l surfers battle it out i n the water. N o t to m e n t i o n the d e t e r m i n a t i o n

o f the w o m e n surfers w h o carried their l o n g boards over their heads for n e a r l y a

m i l e d o w n the g r a v e l , tree-lined path that was the m a i n access p o i n t to C o x B a y .

A q u i c k glance d o w n the b e a c h at C o x B a y showcases the uniqueness o f our l o c a l

s u r f culture. A l t h o u g h there are several h u n d r e d spectators present the vast b e a c h

remains sparsely p o p u l a t e d . T h e spectators are p r e d o m i n a n t l y pre-teen to late 30s

and the ratio o f g u y s : girls are r o u g h l y 3: 2. T h e spectators adorn their w i n t e r

fleeces and toques w i t h f l i p flops. S u r r o u n d e d b y spectacular W e s t C o a s t

w i l d e r n e s s p e o p l e find c o m f o r t against stumps, i n c a m p chairs, seated o n

blankets, or o n the d a m p e n e d sand. S o m e spectators arrive i n groups, others

c o m e as c o u p l e s , a f e w arrive alone o n b i k e s , or w i t h their c h i l d r e n and/or their

dogs. N u m e r o u s sponsorship tents l i n e d the beach and w e r e one o f the o n l y

v i s i b l e signs that a c o m m e r c i a l i z e d event was to be t a k i n g place. T h e final d a y


62

brought about clear skies, light o f f s h o r e w i n d s and consistent 4-5 foot w a v e s and

e x c i t i n g c o m p e t i t i o n . T h e sunshine brought out sunglasses and capris and the

attention o f reporters. C o m p e t i t o r s h a d to listen c a r e f u l l y as the j u d g e s ' h o r n and

v o i c e s w e r e w e a k e n e d b y the w i n d and the m u s i c . It was apparent that there w e r e

s o m e l o c a l favorites and an o n g o i n g r i v a l r y between the B r u h w i l e r b o y s (Sepp

and R a p h ) and Peter D e v r i e s f o r the m e n ' s Pro title and $ 2 0 0 0 i n p r i z e m o n e y ,

m o r e i m p o r t a n t l y r e - a f f i r m i n g o n e ' s p o s i t i o n i n C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g . T h i s event

d r e w o v e r 120 contestants f r o m as far as A u s t r a l i a , M e x i c o and B r a z i l , C a l i f o r n i a ,

and around B C and a l l o w e d C a n a d i a n surfers to showcase their s k i l l s against an

international field. T h e m e n ' s pro title was w o n b y T o f i n o l o c a l Sepp B r u h w i l e r

and the w o m e n ' s pro title was g i v e n to R o x y pro rider T o r i A l e x a n d e r o f

C a l i f o r n i a o v e r l o c a l favorite C a t h e r i n e B r u h w i l e r - T e m p l e .

T h e uniqueness o f these c o n d i t i o n s d u r i n g s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n enabled m e as a

researcher to f u l l y appreciate the sentiments that were expressed i n the i n t e r v i e w s .

Several characteristics w i l l be e x p a n d e d u p o n i n order to e f f e c t i v e l y illustrate the s u r f

scene i n C a n a d a .

A l t h o u g h the s u r f w e a r industry draws a f o l l o w i n g o f pre-teens and teens, the

actual s u r f scene i n C a n a d a is a bit older w i t h most o f the w o m e n i n their 20s and 30s.

There are factors that contribute to this as i d e n t i f i e d b y the f o l l o w i n g s u r f retailer's

c o m m e n t s , " Y o u have to have a j o b . Y o u h a v e to w o r k to p a y f o r the s t u f f and go o v e r

there [ T o f i n o ] . . . . S o the d e m o g r a p h i c is still pretty m u c h r e a l l y 18 to early 20s to early

30s and o l d e r " ( R - l , D a n ) . M y o w n observations supported this although the p o p u l a t i o n


63

o f those a c t u a l l y s u r f i n g ranged c o n s i d e r a b l y and v a r i e d d e p e n d i n g o n s u c h factors as

t o u r i s m and i n the n u m b e r o f f a m i l i e s v i s i t i n g the area, and thereby, l e a r n i n g to surf.

T h r o u g h o u t the i n t e r v i e w s it was w i d e l y suggested that w o m e n are m o r e accepted

i n C a n a d a ' s waters. F o r e x a m p l e , a l o c a l retailer suggested, "I t h i n k its p r o b a b l y

f r i e n d l i e r . . . W e ' r e just m o r e a c c e p t i n g as C a n a d i a n s " (R-2, Phil). A l t h o u g h women

surfers w e r e thought to be m a k i n g advances g l o b a l l y , a s u r f retailer's c o m m e n t s

d o c u m e n t e d p e r c e i v e d pressures at other s u r f i n g l o c a t i o n s :

In C a l i f o r n i a there is definite barriers g i v e n the p o p u l a t i o n pressure o n the s u r f

breaks. A g i r l is g o i n g to feel m o r e i n t i m i d a t e d , there is a lot o f j o s t l i n g and a lot

o f m a c h i s m o f l y i n g around out i n the l i n e up j u s t to catch w a v e s . It is a l i m i t e d

resource [for] the n u m b e r o f w a v e s that c o m e i n . Y o u k n o w y o u [have] to k i n d o f

fight f o r t h e m sort o f speak. (R-4, Scott)

In contrast, the s u r f scene i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a is m o r e r e l a x e d and is m o r e

accessible for w o m e n as suggested b y the f o l l o w i n g :

T o f i n o i n particular is v e r y user f r i e n d l y . . ..The w h o l e l o c a l i s m t h i n g . . .1

t h i n k i t ' s o v e r b l o w n actually. T h e t h i n g about T o f i n o that's great [is that] i t ' s j u s t

so w i d e o p e n . . .The n e w guys have no business b e i n g o n the g o o d peak. T h e y can

go take the c r u m m y w a v e s . . ..as l o n g as they [have] their w i t s about them. (R-2,

Phil)

T h e s e c o m m e n t s do suggest that there is a p e c k i n g order i n the water that w i l l be

further e x p a n d e d u p o n . S i m i l a r l y , it supports a h i e r a r c h y based o n a b i l i t y i n the water,

" o n the b i g g e r d a y s . . .not just girls but [having] n e w people i n the water does get
dangerous, and it does sort o f c l o g things up and waste w a v e s w h e n they are sort o f a

finite r e s o u r c e " (R-2, Phil).

If any t e r r i t o r i a l i s m o c c u r r e d o n V a n c o u v e r Island, it w o u l d be m o r e evident i n

the s u r f areas o f S o m b r i o and J o r d a n R i v e r . A l t h o u g h there is a vast coastline o n B r i t i s h

C o l u m b i a ' s west coast, a lot o f it is not accessible. O n e surfer attests that, " S o m b r i o is

m o s t l y m a l e d o m i n a t e d and S o m b r i o w o u l d be closer to the k i n d o f C a l i f o r n i a scenes that

y o u w o u l d read about where p e o p l e get into fights and they are v e r y protective o v e r

w a v e s , [and are] v e r y t e r r i t o r i a l " (S-3, B r o o k e ) . B r o o k e r e m e m b e r e d b a c k to her first

experience s u r f i n g S o m b r i o and r e c a l l e d the sentiments expressed b y one o f the c l u b b i e s

(regular m a l e surfers) out i n the water:

H e said s o m e t h i n g to the effect o f 'just so y o u k n o w the rules h e r e ' . It was an

i n t i m i d a t i o n factor. I u n d e r s t o o d it as 'stay out o f m y w a y . I d o n ' t r e a l l y care

w h a t y o u do out here but stay out o f m y w a y . If y o u get o n m y w a v e I w i l l not be

h a p p y ' . (S-3, Brooke)

T h e scene i n C a n a d a is u n i q u e o n m a n y levels as the f o l l o w i n g surfer e x p l a i n e d :

C a n a d a is v e r y different because o f temperature. T h e wetsuit r e a l l y separates

people w h o r e a l l y want to s u r f to p e o p l e w h o are just h a n g i n g out i n the

water.. .The s u r f culture i n C a n a d a I t h i n k is different i n that its m o r e hard core,

m o r e dirty, m o r e grungy. P e o p l e w i t h not a lot o f m o n e y that are l i v i n g i n trailers

or r i d i n g their b i k e s to the b e a c h w i t h their surfboard attached to their b i k e s but

d o i n g it i n r e a l l y c o l d , dark, wet weather. (S-2, Marley)

A n o t h e r surfer c o m m e n t e d o n the d i v e r s i t y o f C a n a d a ' s s u r f culture:


65

I f y o u p u l l up i n the p a r k i n g lot [at L o n g B e a c h ] and see the people w h o are out

there a c t u a l l y s u r f i n g . Y o u w i l l see a lot o f people w i t h b i k e s , p e o p l e w i t h o l d

V o l k s w a g e n vans w i t h the p o o l n o o d l e s w i t h the n y l o n straps h o l d i n g the

surfboards d o w n ; but then y o u w i l l see people w h o h a v e n e w V o l k s w a g e n s and

their T h u l e r o o f rack or their Y a k i m a s u r f racks. I t h i n k the sport has s o m e t h i n g

to o f f e r a l l types and y o u do see all types. (S-5, Stephanie)

A n o t h e r surfer c o m m e n t e d that: " c o n d i t i o n s are pretty g r u e l i n g i n winter. The

weather and water c o n d i t i o n s add to the experience. T h i s scene is so n e w to

Canada...The s u r f scene i n C a n a d a is m o r e m e l l o w and a c c e p t i n g than other parts o f the

world" (S-l,Kendra).

W i t h regards to w o m e n ' s representation i n the water, a s u r f b r a n d representative

had several conversations w i t h k e y shops i n T o f i n o to determine the n u m b e r o f w o m e n

actually surfing. T h e f o l l o w i n g highlights his findings:

T h e percentage o f w o m e n surfers is h i g h e r than before c o m p a r e d to m e n . T h e r e

[are] a h i g h e r percentage o f w o m e n s u r f i n g i n T o f i n o relative to other parts o f the

w o r l d . M o r e C a n a d i a n w o m e n w h o w a n t to get active. Last f e w years g r o w t h o f

s u r f i n g i n the w o r l d has increased. T h e r e [are] m o r e w o m e n s u r f i n g . ( B - l , L i a m )

A n o t h e r b r a n d representative a c k n o w l e d g e d that there are m o r e m e n s u r f i n g as

w e l l , " T h e r e is d e f i n i t e l y a g r o w t h i n e v e r y o n e ' s interest i n s u r f i n g not just f r o m w o m e n

but d e f i n i t e l y a g r o w t h i n general. S u r f i n g has b e c o m e a v e r y p o p u l a r s p o r t " (B-2,

Jason). H o w e v e r , there is increased representation o f w o m e n i n the water and a l o c a l

surfer said that she felt that " t h e m o r e e v e n m i x between males and females w i l l stick

a r o u n d " (S-3, B r o o k e ) .
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4.2 Factors Fueling the Growth of Canadian Women's Surfing

T h e n u m b e r o f w o m e n s u r f i n g is reported to be i n c r e a s i n g i n C a n a d a and there

has been a noticeable increase g l o b a l l y . A l l the interviewees i n this study c o m m e n t e d o n

this g r o w t h . F o r e x a m p l e , one i n t ervi ew ee w h o started s u r f i n g i n 1987, w e l l before

T o f i n o was k n o w n as a s u r f i n g destination, r e m a r k e d :

W h e n I started s u r f i n g there w e r e l i k e m a y b e t w o w o m e n that surfed i n T o f i n o .

N o w there are a group o f g i r l s w h o l i v e and w o r k here f o r the last 5 to 10 years

and stay to surf. O n a n y g i v e n d a y there c o u l d be m o r e w o m e n than m e n i n the

water at T o f i n o . (S-1, K e n d r a )

T o f i n o is not o n l y a s u r f i n g d e s t i n a t i o n but it is also h o m e to a g r o w i n g n u m b e r o f

w o m e n surfers, and w i t h the rise i n p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , T o f i n o has seen

c o n t i n u e d g r o w t h i n the n u m b e r o f w o m e n w h o surf. A l s o , m o r e w o m e n appear to be

attracted to T o f i n o c o m p a r e d to other w o r l d w i d e s u r f i n g destinations and there is a

perception the area c o u l d still see m o r e g r o w t h because, as one put it, there is " a lot m o r e

r o o m f o r g r o w t h h e r e " (S-4, A n n ) .

S e v e r a l factors c a n be credited f o r the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n C a n a d a as

reported i n the i n t e r v i e w s . In no particular order, they were: (i) changes i n wetsuit

t e c h n o l o g y ; (ii) crossover appeal f r o m s k a t e b o a r d i n g and s n o w b o a r d i n g ; ( i i i ) cultural and

style influences f r o m C a l i f o r n i a ; (iv) increased d e m a n d f o r w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f

f a s h i o n s ; (v) the g r o w t h o f c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g i n B C ; (vi) increased m e d i a exposure o f

C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g ; ( v i i ) d e v e l o p m e n t o f C a n a d i a n s u r f businesses; and ( v i i i )

w o m e n ' s increased c o m f o r t w i t h the identity o f ' b e i n g a s u r f e r ' . I e x p l o r e each o f these

i n turn.
67

/. Changes in wetsuit technology

In w a r m water e n v i r o n m e n t s , it has been suggested that, " o n e i t e m o f c l o t h i n g ,

m o r e than a n y other... [had a] p o s i t i v e i n f l u e n c e o n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g - the f e m a l e

b o a r d s h o r t " ( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 , p. 13). A s m i g h t be expected, h o w e v e r , a r e c u r r i n g theme i n

the i n t e r v i e w s I c o n d u c t e d w a s that advancements i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y and d e s i g n w e r e

m o r e c r i t i c a l i n o p e n i n g up the sport to c o l d water surfers and to C a n a d i a n w o m e n . It

was the wetsuit that t r u l y " a l l o w e d s u r f i n g to spread N o r t h " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . T h i s is

c o n f i r m e d b y S h i l l i n g (2003) w h o states, " T h e i m p r o v e m e n t o v e r the years i n wetsuit

t e c h n o l o g y has been a real b o o n to s u r f i n g i n B C ' s c o l d w a t e r s " (p. 53).

P r i o r to the i n v e n t i o n o f the neoprene wetsuit a variety o f different products w e r e

used to keep surfers w a r m s u c h as: grease, w o o l sweaters, fires o n the b e a c h , and p l a s t i c

l a m i n a t e d c l o t h i n g . T h e s e attempts p r o v e d u n s u c c e s s f u l at k e e p i n g the core b o d y

temperature w a r m l o n g e n o u g h to a l l o w surfers to r e m a i n i n the water f o r extended

periods o f t i m e ( B - l , L i a m ) . L i a m suggested it was the b r a n d manufacturers themselves

that h a v e f u e l e d a g r o w t h i n s u r f i n g :

T h e wetsuit created the market. [The wetsuit] a l l o w e d p e o p l e to get into the

water and r e m a i n w a r m . B e f o r e o n l y the hardiest o f souls w o u l d go out there

and brave the c h i l l y w a t e r s . . . [The] neoprene wetsuit a l l o w s p e o p l e i n c o o l e r

water to surf. ( B - l , L i a m )

T h e p i o n e e r surfers i n T o f i n o w e r e w i l l i n g to s u r f w i t h o u t this t e c h n o l o g y ,

h o w e v e r , the interviewees u n a n i m o u s l y agreed that these advancements h e l p e d to o p e n

u p the sport to m o r e C a n a d i a n m e n and w o m e n , and contributed to the g r o w t h i n the

n u m b e r o f p e o p l e s u r f i n g i n C a n a d i a n waters. A s u r f retailer a f f i r m e d ,
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In C a n a d a , one o f the things that [is] r e a l l y h a p p e n i n g f o r us is better wetsuits.

T h e y get better every year and that just makes it that m u c h m o r e accessible and

pleasant because the wetsuits are fantastic. Y o u can go i n and spend three hours

in the water. (R-2, P h i l )

W i t h the recent g r o w t h i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and an increased d e m a n d f o r w o m e n -

s p e c i f i c products, c o m p a n i e s that are p r o g r e s s i v e and i n n o v a t i v e i n their product

offerings to w o m e n are g a i n i n g r e c o g n i t i o n i n the w o m e n ' s s u r f market. A s one s u r f

retailer e x p l a i n e d , " F o r a l o n g t i m e there w e r e n ' t great q u a l i t y w o m e n ' s w e t s u i t s " (R-4,

Scott). I m p r o v e d t e c h n o l o g i e s i n wetsuit d e s i g n and a w o m e n - s p e c i f i c fit have h e l p e d

m a k e s u r f i n g m o r e accessible to C a n a d i a n w o m e n . J e n n y Stewart, one o f the f e w

C a n a d i a n f e m a l e surfers w h o surfed t h r o u g h the changed t e c h n o l o g y states that:

W h e n I learned to surf, I w o r e a huge b u l k y wetsuit that d i d n ' t fit right i n the parts

w h e r e I needed it to fit right and that made m y l e a r n i n g curve pretty

steep.. . N o w a d a y s , it fits r i g h t . . .There are booties that fit s m a l l w o m e n ' s feet,

s m a l l s u r f i n g g l o v e s , boards w i t h f o a m o n the deck that's softer and m o r e

c o m f o r t a b l e to lie o n . (quoted i n L e e , 2003)

W o m e n surfers i d e n t i f i e d wetsuit fit as a k e y v a r i a b l e i n whether a b e g i n n e r surfer

w i l l c o m m i t to s u r f i n g . It was suggested that a g o o d first experience f o r learners i n

regards to b e i n g c o m f o r t a b l e i n the water is central to their l e v e l o f c o n f i d e n c e . In

regards to these market changes, a f e m a l e surfer stated, " t h e y are c l u e i n g into the needs

o f w o m e n . [ T h e y are] r e a l i z i n g that w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is s e r i o u s " (S-2, M a r l e y ) . A s b r a n d

manufacturers d e v e l o p products e x c l u s i v e l y for the female c o n s u m e r , f e m a l e surfers are


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f e e l i n g m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e i n the water and w i t h their identities as surfers. A s a retailer

e x c l a i m s o f his contentment for the recent d e v e l o p m e n t i n the w o m e n ' s sport market:

N o t o n l y is the fit l i k e ten times better.. .they actually put [some] thought into this

n o w that there is a b i g w o m e n ' s market out there.. . O ' N e i l l n o w w i l l have the

O ' N e i l l w a v e f o r all the g u y suits and they w i l l have a n O ' N e i l l w a v e w i t h a little

f l o w e r o n it f o r all w o m e n ' s suits. T h a t ' s b i g , r e a l l y b i g . Peopl e r e a l l y t h i n k that

is the thought, w o m e n - s p e c i f i c . (R-3, C o l i n )

A c c o r d i n g to the interviewees and the other evidence I r e v i e w e d the

advancements m a d e i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y and d e s i g n h e l p e d to stimulate s u r f i n g a c t i v i t y

and the s u r f products market. A s d e m a n d increased so d i d style options f o r f e m a l e

surfers, thus e n a b l i n g t h e m to find the best fit and d e s i g n to suit their needs b o t h as

consumers and as surfers. T h i s e x p a n s i o n i n the wetsuit market i s i n parallel w i t h the

gains w o m e n are m a k i n g i n the sport product m a r k e t p l a c e generally, and has contributed

to a n i d e n t i f i a b l e g r o w t h i n the n u m b e r o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n s u r f i n g .

//. Crossover appeal from skateboarding and snowboarding

A c o m m o n theme i n the i n t e r v i e w s w a s that the w i d e s p r e a d appeal o f

skateboarding and s n o w b o a r d i n g has also contributed to the g r o w t h o f C a n a d i a n

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g . T h i s trend w a s seen as c o n t r i b u t i n g to the n u m b e r o f people w a n t i n g to

get i n v o l v e d i n b o a r d sports m o r e generally. F o r e x a m p l e , a s u r f lesson participant

e x p l a i n e d , "I tried w a k e b o a r d i n g , s n o w b o a r d i n g , and wanted to g i v e s u r f i n g a t r y " !

B o a r d sports h a v e b e c o m e part o f o u r culture. A f e w interviewees termed this 'board


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culture'' and i n d i c a t e d that there is increased crossover f r o m C a n a d a ' s m a s s i v e

s n o w b o a r d i n g culture.

A s u r f b r a n d representative suggested that s u r f i n g is a p p e a l i n g to snowboarders

w h e n the s n o w b o a r d season ends. A s he put it, "[It is] s o m e t h i n g to do i n the

s u m m e r t i m e ! " ( B - l , L i a m ) . S i m i l a r l y , a surf, skate, and s n o w retailer suggested that

there is a c o r r e l a t i o n between the n u m b e r o f female surfers and the n u m b e r o f female

snowboarders i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , " I n B C . . .we have far m o r e surfers i n o u r waters that

are f e m a l e because w e have so m a n y g i r l s that are s n o w b o a r d i n g c r o s s i n g o v e r " (R-4,

Scott).

T h e s e sports have s i m i l a r appeal a c c o r d i n g to a retailer o f surf, skate, and s n o w

sports equipment, "It's the same type o f person that wants to do these things. T h e y l i k e

the sense o f adventure and e v e r y t h i n g else and those sports d e f i n i t e l y crossover

e v e r y t h i n g f r o m w a k e b o a r d i n g , s k a t e b o a r d i n g , all o f it, a l l crosses o v e r " (R-2, Phil).

A s u r f b r a n d representative a c k n o w l e d g e d the deeper c o n n e c t i o n that participants

have w i t h b o a r d sports:

It is the same e m o t i o n a l c o n n e c t i o n . . . [ B o a r d sports are] quite artistic and y o u

p u s h y o u r s e l f as far as y o u want to g o . E s p e c i a l l y w i t h s n o w b o a r d i n g and

s u r f i n g : there is a l w a y s a b i g g e r m o u n t a i n , there is a l w a y s deeper s n o w , [and]

there is a l w a y s a b i g g e r wave. W i t h skateboarding there is a l w a y s a harder t r i c k

and it is o n l y y o u w h o chooses h o w far y o u want to go and k i d s are a l w a y s

p u s h i n g themselves. T h e r e is no adult there s a y i n g to t h e m 'this is the w a y it

needs to be d o n e ' . That is a b i g t h i n g w h e n y o u are a teenager. That element o f


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danger can be quite a p p e a l i n g , and girls [are attracted to s u r f i n g because] it is an

i n d i v i d u a l a c c o m p l i s h m e n t . (B-3, Jacky)

A n o t h e r board sport retailer e m p h a s i z e d the c o m m o n o r i g i n o f these sports f r o m

s u r f i n g , " T h a t is a l w a y s engrained i n the subculture o f w i n d s u r f i n g and k i t e b o a r d i n g and

s n o w b o a r d i n g and s k a t e b o a r d i n g . . .they are fathered o f s u r f i n g . . . f r o m the l i n e a g e " (R-4,

Scott).

O f the retailers i n t e r v i e w e d , 3 stores out o f the 5 created their business based o n

the crossover appeal o f surf, skate, and s n o w sports. A s Scott suggested, " T h e crossover

appeal d e f i n i t e l y m a k e s a store l i k e this possible. W e c o u l d n ' t s u r v i v e o n s u m m e r d o l l a r s

[alone].. . A n d a lot o f p e o p l e do t h e m a l l . . . It is the t r i l o g y o f sports.. .and they a l l

c o m p l e m e n t each o t h e r " (R-4, Scott).

T h e c r o s s o v e r between the b o a r d sports appears to be s o m e t h i n g the brand

marketers themselves have h e l p e d strengthen. T h e p i o n e e r s u r f brands offer s n o w b o a r d

c l o t h i n g i n their lines and sponsor s n o w b o a r d e r s , skateboarders, and surfers i n an effort

to penetrate this broader market. A s one b r a n d representative stated, " [ W e ] o n l y sponsor

s n o w b o a r d i n g , skateboarding, w a k e b o a r d i n g , and s u r f i n g . [We] h a v e n o t h i n g to do w i t h

a n y t h i n g else so that is [our] target m a r k e t " (B-2, Jason). T h i s crossover between

skateboarding and s n o w b o a r d i n g and other b o a r d sports has contributed to the g r o w t h i n

the n u m b e r o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n s u r f i n g .

iii. Cultural and style influences from California

A c o m m o n theme i n the i n t e r v i e w s was that s u r f i n g i n C a l i f o r n i a has been a

major i n f l u e n c e o n C a n a d a ' s s u r f i n d u s t r y and culture. A s one i n t e r v i e w e e put it:


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[Surfing] originate[d] from C a l i f o r n i a a n d . . . i t ' s H u n t i n g t o n B e a c h and r e a l l y

O r a n g e C o u n t y , [that] is the 'hot bed o f s u r f i n g ' i n the U n i t e d States. T h a t ' s the

epicenter o f c o o l as far as trends and w h e r e e v e r y t h i n g c o m e s f r o m . (B-2, Jason)

H e further suggested that s u r f i n g is d e e p l y e m b e d d e d i n C a l i f o r n i a ' s culture and

traditions:

W o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is g o i n g to be a s p o r t that w i l l be around f o r a l o n g t i m e . It is a

sport that has been around for a l o n g t i m e just m a y b e not to our culture. [ W h e n ]

y o u go d o w n to C a l i f o r n i a , it is l i k e s o m e b o d y a s k i n g us about p l a y i n g h o c k e y up

here. (B-2, Jason)

A recent C B C d o c u m e n t a r y , M a k i n g W a v e s , attributes the rise i n the n u m b e r o f

C a n a d i a n f e m a l e surfers partly to the i n f l u e n c e o f I z z y T i h a n y i ' s s u r f s c h o o l i n L a J o l l a ,

C a l i f o r n i a c a l l e d S u r f D i v a . T h i s is g e n e r a l l y r e c o g n i z e d as the first w o m e n ' s s u r f s c h o o l

i n the w o r l d , and its graduates b e c a m e k n o w n as ' S u r f D i v a s ' .

T h e i n f l u e n c e o f these C a l i f o r n i a n w o m e n surfers was a c k n o w l e d g e d i n several

int er vie w s . A l o c a l retailer suggested that m o r e w o m e n are s u r f i n g and the S u r f D i v a s

generated a lot o f h y p e here l o c a l l y , "I k n o w a lot o f these girls l i k e S u r f D i v a are c o m i n g

up from C a l i f o r n i a and c o m i n g up the coast and spreading the g o o d w o r d about s u r f i n g

and people are starting to see i t " (R-3, C o l i n ) .

S u p p o r t e d b y a l o c a l retailer, the S u r f D i v a S c h o o l o r g a n i z e d a h i g h l y successful

s u r f c a m p o n L o n g B e a c h , B C i n 1998. " T h e i r c l i n i c s w e r e s o l d out. T h e idea caught o n

w i t h J e n n y H u d n a l l " ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 , p. 69) w h o g r e w up i n C a l i f o r n i a and thought this

same all-girls theme c o u l d w o r k i n C a n a d a and s h o r t l y thereafter i n 1999, she started S u r f

Sister S u r f S c h o o l representing C a n a d a ' s first and f o r m a n y years o n l y all-girls s u r f


73

s c h o o l . S u r f Sister has opened the sport to m o r e C a n a d i a n g i r l s and w o m e n b u i l d i n g o n

the C a l i f o r n i a idea and g i v i n g it a C a n a d i a n twist.

A c o m m o n theme i n the i n t e r v i e w s w a s that T o f i n o i t s e l f has exerted a unique

i n f l u e n c e o n C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g . W h i l e , it is undeniable that C a l i f o r n i a s u r f

culture has i n f l u e n c e d s u r f i n g i n B C , the V a n c o u v e r Island s u r f i n g experience was seen

as o f f e r i n g a contrast. F o r e x a m p l e , a s u r f retailer pointed out that " i t is a different

experience [than in] C a l i f o r n i a . . . [ T o f i n o is] far m o r e rustic, y o u ' r e not p o u n d i n g

through a gross c i t y to get out to a s u r f b r e a k " ( R - 4 , Scott).

Nevertheless, the s u r f b r a n d representatives i n t e r v i e w e d i n this study a l l

a c k n o w l e d g e d C a l i f o r n i a ' s i n f l u e n c e . C a l i f o r n i a is h o m e to several N o r t h A m e r i c a n

headquarters o f s u r f brands. In a d d i t i o n , representatives a c k n o w l e d g e d that s u r f f a s h i o n

and equipment trends a l l originate i n C a l i f o r n i a and t r i c k l e their w a y north. T r i s h , a s u r f

b r a n d representative stated this as f o l l o w s :

In terms o f what part o f the w o r l d it c o m e s f r o m . I think C a l i f o r n i a for us. O u r

l i n e is a l l about the b e a c h g i r l . . .She is f r o m C a l i f o r n i a and that is w h e r e it r e a l l y

o r i g i n a t e s . . . E v e n w o r l d w i d e people l o o k up to what is out there i n the m e d i a and

it is r e a l l y C a l i f o r n i a . A l l the teen i d o l s , all the p o p stars r e a l l y originate f r o m

California. (B-4, Trish)

A s seen i n the i n t e r v i e w s , the f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h beach culture is repeatedly l i n k e d

to C a l i f o r n i a and can be attributed i n part to exposure to m e d i a as w e l l a s to direct

experience and to the p r o l i f e r a t i o n o f s u r f fashions and styles. W h a t separates B C is that

s u r f i n g l o c a l l y has its o w n rustic context and i r o n i c a l l y this experience is what seems to

be d r a w i n g v a c a t i o n i n g C a l i f o r n i a n s up N o r t h .
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iv. Increased demand for women's surf wear and surffashions

O n e major theme i n the i n t e r v i e w s was that the increased coverage o f s u r f culture

i n the l o c a l m e d i a , i n particular f o l l o w i n g the release o f B l u e C r u s h , had an e x p l o s i v e

effect o n the appeal o f s u r f w e a r and beach wear. V a n c o u v e r newspapers and l o c a l

t e l e v i s i o n b e c a m e i n c r e a s i n g l y interested i n L o w e r M a i n l a n d retailers and i n

d o c u m e n t i n g what was l i o t ' i n s u r f wear. T h e interviewees noted that s u r f fashions

began t u r n i n g up everywhere, a p p e a r i n g o n designer r u n w a y s , b i l l b o a r d s , c o m m e r c i a l s ,

department stores, and at large c h a i n retail outlets. O n e surfer a c k n o w l e d g e d the

p r o l i f e r a t i o n o f s u r f fashions r e c o g n i z i n g that " e v e n A m e r i c a n E a g l e has beach-themed

c l o t h e s " (S-5, Stephanie). Businesses that h a d n o t h i n g to do w i t h s u r f i n g i t s e l f began

c a p i t a l i z i n g o n this g r o w i n g trend. A s u r f b r a n d representative noted that, " a lot o f

c l o t h i n g c o m p a n i e s aren't s u r f brands but say they sell s u r f w e a r because p e o p l e l i k e that;

they can relate to the ocean. W h e n p e o p l e t h i n k o f the ocean, they t h i n k o f s u r f i n g " ( B - l ,

Liam).

S u r f w e a r has m a i n s t r e a m appeal f o r t w o reasons: the s u r f craze is an

international p h e n o m e n o n and w o m e n b e c a m e an i n c r e a s i n g l y important target i n the s u r f

industry g l o b a l l y . O n e female surfer felt that the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g g l o b a l l y

c o u l d b e attributed to the b r a n d manufacturers themselves, " M y theory is that w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g has been p r o p e l l e d b y the s u r f c l o t h i n g b y Q u i k s i l v e r w h o d e c i d e d to put their

logos together and f o r m the R o x y b r a n d . . . S u r f i n g i n t r o d u c e d to the w o r l d t h r o u g h s u r f

c l o t h i n g " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . T h i s statement posits a process o f identity t h r o u g h w h i c h the act

o f w e a r i n g s u r f fashions l i n k s the wearer to the m e a n i n g s o f s u r f culture, and raises the

p o s s i b i l i t y that s u r f b r a n d m o n i k e r s are p a r t l y responsible f o r the i n c o r p o r a t i o n o f s u r f


75

culture into p e o p l e ' s lifestyles as w e l l as into the s u r f w e a r c o n s u m e r market. The

f o l l o w i n g r e m a r k s b y a retailer support this c o n c l u s i o n and demonstrate the s y m b o l i c

p o w e r that a p i o n e e r s u r f b r a n d , l i k e R o x y has i n the market:

W e r e a l l y c o u l d sell a n y t h i n g i f w e just took o f f whatever b r a n d n a m e was o n

there and stamp R o x y o n it. It w o u l d sell and it w o u l d sell before it w o u l d

w i t h o u t R o x y ' s n a m e o n it. That is another real cult f o l l o w i n g , that w e ' r e f i n d i n g

that p e o p l e w i l l b u y it. (R-3, Colin)

H o w e v e r , a s u r f b r a n d representative c o n c e d e d that trends seen i n w o m e n ' s s u r f

culture have f u e l e d the brands g r o w t h , " W i t h the rise o f not o n l y w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , but

the w h o l e w o m e n ' s s u r f culture, the w o m e n ' s s i d e . . . h a s a b s o l u t e l y s k y r o c k e t e d the

b r a n d " (B-5, Leanne).

S o m e o f the market trends that are h a p p e n i n g are also b e n e f i c i a l to the sport o f

s u r f i n g i t s e l f as a surfer indicates:

S u r f w e a r [is] l o o k i n g better. C o m p a n i e s are c l u e i n g i n to w h a t girls want.

B i k i n i s are m o r e f u n c t i o n a l that y o u c a n a c t u a l l y s u r f i n . S u r f c o m p a n i e s are

t a k i n g o n a m o r e r e a l i s t i c angle. [ L e a d i n g to the] d e v e l o p m e n t o f c o o l f u n c t i o n a l

c l o t h i n g [and] w o m e n - s p e c i f i c wetsuits. (S-2, Marley)

T h e interviewees a c k n o w l e d g e d q u a l i t y , c o m f o r t , and fit as b e i n g three

fundamental variables that i n f l u e n c e c l o t h i n g purchase d e c i s i o n s . It was w i d e l y

suggested that s u r f fashions, i n a d d i t i o n to l o o k i n g c o o l and fitting w e l l , are e x t r e m e l y

c o m f o r t a b l e , and have l o n g e v i t y . A l t h o u g h a d i f f e r e n c e was noted w i t h t w o l o c a l T o f i n o

surfers versus the f a s h i o n i n f l u e n c e s o f their L o w e r M a i n l a n d counterparts is that s u r f

c l o t h i n g does not i m p a c t t h e m so m u c h . O n e o f the surfers suggested the f o l l o w i n g as


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rationale, " i f y o u l i v e i n T o f i n o there are not a lot o f shops so it is not so important to

wear s u r f c l o t h i n g outside o f the s u r f (S-4, A n n ) . T h e purchase d e c i s i o n s o f these

surfers m i g h t be m o r e l i n k e d to e n v i r o n m e n t a l barriers (e.g., a v a i l a b i l i t y ) than their

personal c o n s u m p t i o n b e h av i o rs .

It w a s w i d e l y a c k n o w l e d g e d b y the interviewees that retailers, and s u r f b r a n d

creators have responded to the increased d e m a n d for s u r f w e a r and s u r f fashions. T h e

question that remains is h o w does this trend result i n m o r e w o m e n actually surfing?

Interviewees b e l i e v e d that the penetration o f the s u r f industry has l e d m o r e w o m e n to

first experience the sport v i a s u r f brands and fashions thru p r o m o t i o n . T h i s increased

appeal c o n s e q u e n t l y has l e d to an increase i n the n u m b e r o f w o m e n t a k i n g s u r f lessons

and r e n t i n g equipment. A s u r f b r a n d representative suggested that " m o r e dealers are

p u r c h a s i n g suits for r e n t a l s . . . [The] rental market getting b i g g e r is a g o o d s i g n that the

market is g r o w i n g " ( B - l , L i a m ) . S u r f b r a n d manufacturers have created a p l a t f o r m f o r

the s u r f i n d u s t r y to g r o w and its w i d e s p r e a d appeal has been m o n u m e n t a l i n the increased

d e m a n d f o r s u r f w e a r and has contributed to an increase i n the n u m b e r o f C a n a d i a n

w o m e n surfing.

v. The growth of competitive surfing in BC

D u r i n g data c o l l e c t i o n , the R o x y / Q u i k s i l v e r S u r f Jam i n T o f i n o was regarded as

C a n a d a ' s largest s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n . D u r i n g m y i n i t i a l conversations w i t h s u r f w e a r

retailers, t w o retailers a d v i s e d m e o f the event and one o f t h e m acted as a j u d g e d u r i n g

the c o m p e t i t i o n . It w a s a c k n o w l e d g e d b y the interviewees that this event g i v e s . B C

surfers an o p p o r t u n i t y to compete against international competitors w h i l s t r e m a i n i n g i n


77

the c o m f o r t o f their h o m e break. T h e m e d i a further generated l o c a l interest i n the 2003

S u m m e r S u r f J a m . D o m D o m i c , president o f the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a S u r f A s s o c i a t i o n

( B C S A ) and Peter D e v r i e s , a h i g h l y respected T o f i n o surfer, appeared o n C i t y T V ' s

m o r n i n g segment, Breakfast T e l e v i s i o n ( B T ) o n June 9 , 2003 to p r o m o t e the B C S A and


t h

the 2003 S u m m e r S u r f J a m . D u r i n g this B T talk, it was revealed that w o m e n w e r e

i n v o l v e d i n the c o m p e t i t i o n as w e l l . T h e B C S A wanted to encourage l o c a l support o f

"the p r e m i e r e event i n C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g " ( B C S A , 2 0 0 3 ) . T h e increased p r o m i n e n c e o f

the S u m m e r S u r f J a m has also p o s i t i v e l y contributed to the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n

BC.

T h e event was w i d e l y advertised at p a r t i c i p a t i n g s u r f shops. N e v e r t h e l e s s , m y

analysis o f the entry f o r m for 2003 revealed differences i n f u n d i n g f o r the m e n ' s and

w o m e n ' s d i v i s i o n s . There w e r e seven d i v i s i o n s o v e r a l l and the m e n ' s and w o m e n ' s

professional d i v i s i o n s c o m p e t e d for p r i z e m o n e y . T h e m e n ' s p r o f e s s i o n a l d i v i s i o n was

o p e n to 48 surfers c o m p e t i n g for $ 3 , 2 5 0 i n p r i z e m o n e y d i v i d e d amongst the 1 to 7 st t h

place f i n i s h e r ; w h i l e , the w o m e n ' s p r o f e s s i o n a l d i v i s i o n had 24 competitors c o m p e t i n g

for $ 1 , 0 0 0 i n p r i z e m o n e y d i v i d e d amongst the 1 to 4 st t h


place ( B C S A , 2 0 0 3 ) . T h i s

demonstrates an apparent i n e q u i t y i n the disbursement o f p r i z e m o n e y f o r the m a l e and

female surfers. A C a n a d i a n b r a n d representative a c k n o w l e d g e d that w o m e n are not

treated e q u a l l y at s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n s :

I t h i n k there is d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n every asset o f l i f e . Y o u can f i n d fault w i t h any

sport.. .and I t h i n k it is true w i t h s u r f i n g too. If y o u go to a contest there is never

as m u c h p r i z e m o n e y f o r the w o m e n but there is never as m a n y w o m e n c o m p e t i n g

at the event t o o . . . T h e y p r o b a b l y d o n ' t get as m u c h support as the m e n do but I


78

think it is all relative to how many people are doing it.... [There are currently no]

Canadian girls that get sponsorship.. .We don't have a lot o f women surfers

competing worldwide so that is a problem. We don't have any like Canadian

surfers on the pro tour. So I mean i f there was a girl out there we would be the

first ones to sign something up but the problem is there isn't anyone there. (B-4,

Trish)

This statement provides insight into the level o f women's professional surfing i n

British Columbia. It remains a poor mismatch to the men's which has resulted in few

sponsorship deals and opportunities to compete worldwide. The suggestion that there are

no women in B C who are proficient enough to compete on a world stage may be true but

this overlooks the conditions which are at least partly responsible for this shortfall. A

female surfer acknowledged that there are virtually no opportunities for women in

Canada and felt that this affects the number o f women entering Canadian surfing

competitions and the level o f competition:

I have been competing for eleven years. I won the Roxy/Quiksilver Surf J a m two

years in a row and [I have] never placed below second and [I] have had no

opportunities.. .Sponsors need to change their attitudes! Sponsor someone in

Canada. It would be beneficial. Young girls identify with sponsored athletes.

[It would] help the industry and add some authenticity to the sport. ( S - l , Kendra)

Similarly, another surfer felt that Canadian women should be recognized by brand

manufacturers, "Companies should jump on to Canadian surfers. [They need to] get on

the program [and] start sponsoring Canadians. W e need better Canadian representation"

(S-4, Ann). There definitely is some animosity amongst female surfers who aspire to
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pursue surfing professionally yet discover that opportunities for aspiring Canadian male

surfers remain greater than for promising women. These conditions are not dissimilar

from the early period of female Canadian surfing. Perhaps aspiring junior girls will be

the ones to draw attention to Canadian women worldwide.

These attitudes reflect the views of two local Tofino surfers. Interestingly, an

avid Vancouver surfer did not uphold the same opinion of sponsorship:

Most people surf for recreational purposes. Unless you are born and raised in

Tofino and were really around that kind of circuit when you are young and sort of

[grew] up with it. It is not an industry that is well known around here. (S-3,

Brooke)

One surf brand representative suggested that sponsorship is not a priority for its

marketing strategy:

In Canada at this time we have made a conscious decision not to sponsor athletes.

We are trying to get as much growth to catch up to the other licensees because we

are one of the newest licensees in the world. The potential for us to grow really

quickly is there so we have tried to spend our marketing dollars more on the

people that are selling the product than on our athletes at this time. (B-5, Leanne)

The future of competitive surfing in B C is uncertain and as yet it is not clear what

opportunities may become available to promising female athletes in the future. However,

the rise in competitive surfing in BC and the marketing effort behind it are generating

more interest in surfing and increasing spectatorship at surfing competitions. More and

more women are entering these competitions and the increased attention is contributing to

a growth in the number of Canadian women surfing.


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vi. Increased media exposure of Canadian women's surfing

A s s u r f shops and s u r f s c h o o l s began o p e n i n g i n the m i d 1990s and w o r d spread

that w o m e n w e r e encouraged i n B C ' s waters, t o u r i s m i n the T o f i n o area increased. A t

the same t i m e l o c a l and national m e d i a became i n c r e a s i n g l y interested i n C a n a d i a n

surfing. A l o c a l surfer suggested that the reason f o r the coverage was that the sport has

w i d e s p r e a d appeal, " S u r f i n g is the n e w s that y o u want to hear about; g i r l s out i n T o f i n o

and t h e y ' r e s u r f i n g , the m e d i a comes o v e r and wants to i n t e r v i e w u s " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) .

A retailer reported that, "there is a percentage g r o w t h i n actual number. It is

p r o b a b l y misrepresented i n the m e d i a because it is a m o r e interesting s t o r y " (R-4, Scott).

H o w e v e r , a surfer c o n f i r m s that there are " a b s o l u t e l y " m o r e w o m e n i n the water stating,

" W h e n I first started [surfing the mentality] was ' o h c o o l there is a g i r l ' . [Girls]

d e f i n i t e l y stood out [in the water] and n o w y o u l o o k around i n the water and there [are]

just so m a n y w o m e n [surfers]" (S-3, B r o o k e ) .

A l o c a l retailer attributed some o f the g r o w t h seen i n C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g

to "the w h o l e p o p u l a r i t y o f L o n g B e a c h [ B C ] area a n d . . . a l l the exposure it's getting i n

the P r o v i n c e , the S u n , [and on] the r a d i o " (R-3, C o l i n ) . T h e l o c a l m e d i a generated a lot

o f h y p e w h e n the S u r f D i v a s o f C a l i f o r n i a c a m e up to T o f i n o . T h e o p e n i n g o f S u r f Sister

reached newspapers n a t i o n w i d e and f e m a l e j o u r n a l i s t s traveled to T o f i n o and e n r o l l e d i n

s u r f lessons and d o c u m e n t e d their w o m e n ' s o n l y s u r f experience. A T o f i n o s u r f

instructor c o m m e n t e d o n the increased m e d i a interest i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g as f o l l o w s ,

" W e receive calls from t e l e v i s i o n s a y i n g ' w e are g o i n g to do a story o n this and want to

talk to y o u . [ W e are] getting calls constantly f r o m the news and m e d i a p r o d u c t i o n


81

c o m p a n i e s [who are] interested i n S u r f S i s t e r " (S-4, A n n ) . T h e release o f B l u e C r u s h

further stimulated l o c a l m e d i a interest i n the B C s u r f scene.

O n e c o n d i t i o n that I f o u n d p a r t i c u l a r l y interesting d u r i n g m y data c o l l e c t i o n and

trips to T o f i n o was the manner i n w h i c h the l o c a l m e d i a portrayed the scene. A s a

spectator at the 2003 S u m m e r S u r f J a m , I observed both days o f c o m p e t i t i o n and

recorded m y observations. T h e second d a y o f c o m p e t i t i o n garnered m o r e m e d i a interest

and several reporters, i n c l u d i n g an M T V reporter, w e r e present f o r the f i n a l , d e c i d i n g d a y

o f c o m p e t i t i o n . T h e m e d i a seemed to be p a r t i c u l a r l y interested i n a n y t h i n g eccentric, o r

that appeared to be h i p and c o o l . Reporters seemed to be targeting a n y t h i n g that

appeared to be different s u c h as a group o f guys w e a r i n g w i g s and d r i v i n g around o n

scooters, a spectator w i t h a fluorescent c o w b o y hat, or a take o f a g i r l w e a r i n g b o a r d

shorts w i t h E m u suede w i n t e r boots. I overheard a y o u n g group o f m a l e s repeatedly

u s i n g generic and stereotypical s u r f l i n g o f o r reporters. U p o n c o m p l e t i o n o f the

i n t e r v i e w , the group l a u g h e d and m a d e f u n o f the s u r f l i n g o . It seemed they gave the

m e d i a what they wanted to hear; w h i c h was i n essence a stereotypic representation o f

surfing. W h i l e the m e d i a are generating a lot o f p u b l i c i t y f o r C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g ,

the a c c u r a c y o f their coverage therefore r e m a i n s questionable. Invariably, m e d i a

exposure was w i d e s p r e a d d u r i n g m y data c o l l e c t i o n p e r i o d and it has p o t e n t i a l l y

contributed to an increased g r o w t h i n the n u m b e r o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n s u r f i n g .

vii. Development of Canadian surf businesses

A s t o u r i s m steadily b u i l d s a r o u n d T o f i n o , the e c o n o m y is capable o f sustaining

numerous s u r f businesses. A s one i n t e r v i e w e e , a l o n g t e r m resident o f T o f i n o and a v i d


82

female surfer, a c k n o w l e d g e d , " S i n c e 1 9 9 5 , T o f i n o started to b e c o m e a p o p u l a r s u r f

destination and s u r f shops started o p e n i n g . B e f o r e 1995 shops w o u l d o p e n and then s o o n

c l o s e " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . L i v e to S u r f was established i n 1984 and is s o m e w h a t o f an i c o n i n

the h i s t o r y o f s u r f retailers because o f its l o n g e v i t y .

T h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f s u r f businesses also has l e d to the o p e n i n g o f several s u r f

schools around T o f i n o . J e n n y Stewart, T o f i n o native and the top f e m a l e surfer o n the

C a n a d i a n s u r f scene can be credited w i t h f u e l i n g awareness and appeal o f C a n a d i a n

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g . A s the f o u n d e r o f the first female s u r f s c h o o l i n C a n a d a and the

epitome o f e v e r y surfer g i r l J e n n y has stimulated w o m e n ' s i n v o l v e m e n t i n s u r f i n g . A

T o f i n o s u r f instructor recently was quoted s a y i n g that, " S i n c e S u r f Sisters operation,

s u r f i n g i n T o f i n o has gone nuts.. . L e s s o n s are filling up due to h i g h d e m a n d . W e are not

able to meet the d e m a n d " (S-1, K e n d r a ) . K e n d r a d o c u m e n t e d the g r o w t h e x p e r i e n c e d at

S u r f Sister as f o l l o w s :

T h i s year there are three times as m a n y surfers as last year and last year there

w e r e five times as m a n y surfers as the years before. Last year S u r f Sister

e m p l o y e d s i x instructors. T h i s year S u r f Sister has t w e l v e instructors and still is

short-staffed. ( S - l , K e n d r a )

It w a s revealed that w o m e n - s p e c i f i c l e a r n i n g e n v i r o n m e n t s h a v e gained

m o m e n t u m and have been e s p e c i a l l y p r e d o m i n a n t i n the b o a r d sport industry. A retailer

suggested that w o m e n are often interested i n these sports but have felt i n t i m i d a t e d to go

out and try t h e m :

[ W o m e n - s p e c i f i c is] a g o o d t h i n g . . . [ W o m e n ] have trouble integrating. T h e y ' r e

shy. T h e y ' r e embarrassed. T h e y d o n ' t want to l o o k g o o f y but w h e n they are w i t h


83

other g i r l s they can go i n and be at the same l e v e l and they d o n ' t h a v e to feel that

the g u y s are w a t c h i n g t h e m . It is h a v i n g guys w a t c h that is the m a i n t h i n g . . .The

g i r l wants to go o f f and do it [independently]. (R-5, S u z y )

T h i s c l a i m was w i d e l y d o c u m e n t e d b y female surfers w h o d i s c o v e r e d that w o m e n ' s -

supportive e n v i r o n m e n t s can alleviate s o m e o f the pressure to p e r f o r m and enables

w o m e n to progress at their o w n rate.

T h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f s u r f businesses is a trend n a t i o n w i d e as retailers c a p i t a l i z e o n

the f a s c i n a t i o n p e o p l e seem to have w i t h beach culture i n general, and w i t h the increased

m e d i a exposure o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g . A s one retailer postulates, "I t h i n k it is a craze right

across the c o u n t r y because there [are] stores l i k e i n C a l g a r y p o p p i n g u p . . .and they are a l l

s p e c i f i c g i r l - o n l y stores that just do surf-oriented stuff.. .It r e a l l y is g r o w i n g right across

N o r t h A m e r i c a " (R-3, C o l i n ) . H a v i n g a f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h s u r f culture and s u r f fashions

appears to p o s i t i v e l y i n f l u e n c e o n e ' s l i k e l i n e s s to s u r f i n the future, as seen i n the

f o l l o w i n g c o m m e n t s b y t w o sisters f r o m C a l g a r y at a T o f i n o s u r f c a m p : " W e a l w a y s

wanted to try it [surfing]. It was o u r C h r i s t m a s present". T h i s further substantiates the

appeal o f s u r f i n g , even i n g e o g r a p h i c a l regions w h e r e there is no surf.

T h e e x p a n s i o n o f s u r f b r a n d lines has contributed to an increased d e m a n d for

w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f fashions, and the strength o f the s u r f industry has lead to the

d e v e l o p m e n t o f numerous C a n a d i a n s u r f businesses. T h e s e businesses have garnered

m e d i a and c o n s u m e r interest, and h a v e h a d an i m p a c t o n the n u m b e r o f w o m e n s u r f i n g i n

BC.
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viii. Women's increased comfort with the identity of 'being a surfer'

A common assertion in the interviews was that women are becoming more

comfortable with their identity of 'being a surfer'. The feeling was that women are

responding positively to girls-only learning environments, acceptance in Canadian

waters, increased recognition in the sport products marketplace and equipment, apparel,

and a girls-specificfitwhich means they are more comfortable and relaxed in the water.

As a retailer postulated:

Women thought they couldn't do it [surf] before.. .but now they are slowly

integrating into it.. .They definitely have integrated into the surf way faster than

they ever will in skateboarding because skateboarding is more hard core.. .You do

have to be more of a tomboy to be a skateboarder whereas it's not like that in

surfing. You can be as girly as you want and still get out there and be a good

surfer. (R-5, Suzy)

This narrative highlights how women are integrating into surfing and finding that

they can still be themselves, in comparison to skateboarding that is often viewed as more

hard core and intimidating for women.

One brand representative credited the younger generation of girls as contributing

to the growth seen in typically male-dominated sporting practices:

I think that girls are no longer being intimidated by what is perceived as men's-

only sports. The younger generation has decided that they can do anything that

the boys can do. Surfing is quite an individual sport so I think that appeals to girls

who don't want to participate in traditional girls' sports or girly activities. (B-3,

Jacky)
85

W o m e n have credited g i r l s - o n l y l e a r n i n g environments as b e i n g superior. An

interviewee for e x a m p l e stated that, " w o m e n tend to be m o r e n u r t u r i n g . [ A w o m e n ' s

s p e c i f i c learning] e n v i r o n m e n t is m o r e supportive and understanding. T h e instructors are

right there e n c o u r a g i n g [the p a r t i c i p a n t s ] " (S-4, A n n ) . A p o s i t i v e first experience

increases the l i k e l i n e s s that she w i l l s u r f a g a i n , thus, creating an avenue to d e v e l o p as a

surfer.

A s m o r e w o m e n have ventured into C a n a d a ' s c o o l waters, s u r f i n g has gathered a

substantial female f o l l o w i n g . O n e f e m a l e surfer's statements i l l u m i n a t e the attraction o f

s u r f i n g , "It gives g i r l s a sense o f p o w e r , g i r l s can actually do it and be g o o d at it t o o " (S-

5, Stephanie). A n o t h e r surfer s i m i l a r l y states that " w o m e n are r e a l i z i n g that y o u d o n ' t

have to be m u s c u l a r and p o w e r f u l to surf; that w i t h the right technique they c a n do it t o o "

( S - l , K e n d r a ) . A s w o m e n b e c o m e m o r e p r o f i c i e n t i n the water, they are b e c o m i n g m o r e

confident w i t h their identity o f ' b e i n g a surfer'. T h e s e w o m e n are e n c o u r a g i n g other

w o m e n to participate as one surfer put it, " g i r l s a l w a y s seem to be r e c r u i t i n g other g i r l s "

(S-3, B r o o k e ) and this is l e a d i n g to an increase i n the n u m b e r o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n

surfing.

4.3 The Appeal of the Surf Culture

A c o m m o n f i n d i n g i n the i n t e r v i e w s was the i n f o r m a n t s ' i m p r e s s i o n o f an

e m e r g i n g g l o b a l fascination w i t h s u r f i n g and s u r f culture. A surfer illustrated the

strength o f her relationship w i t h the o c e a n , "I have a l w a y s been c o m p l e t e l y m e s m e r i z e d

b y the ocean. T h e first t i m e I ever caught a w a v e [surfing] I was instantly addicted f o r


86

l i f e " (S-2, M a r l e y ) . S i m i l a r l y , another surfer stated, "I l o v e that f e e l i n g . I c a n ' t e x p l a i n

it, but c a t c h i n g a w a v e is e u p h o r i a " (S-3, B r o o k e ) .

T h e s u r f l i f e s t y l e is different f r o m a n y other sport, the appeal is almost spiritual.

T h i s is e p i t o m i z e d b y a surfer's narrative, " S u r f i n g relieves stress. It is a s p i r i t u a l ,

m e l l o w e x p e r i e n c e " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . T h e s u r f l i f e s t y l e unites different groups o f p e o p l e

around one c o m m o n m e d i u m , the ocean. A surfer illustrated the d i v e r s i t y o f surfers and

a c k n o w l e d g e d that perceptions o f s u r f i n g are c h a n g i n g , " T h e rest o f the w o r l d used to

l o o k at surfers as b u m s . T h a t m e n t a l i t y is c h a n g i n g . Surfers are getting representation

w o r l d - w i d e . Y o u can't r e a l l y tell w h o is a surfer; it can be the l a w y e r in a s u i t " (S-5,

Stephanie). T h e perfect w a v e is s o m e t h i n g different to each p e r s o n ; h o w e v e r , the

experience gained is quite s i m i l a r .

T h e interviewees tended to change their tone w h e n s p e a k i n g about the appeal o f

the sport. T h e responses b e c a m e m o r e fragmented and the interviewees appeared to tap

into an e m o t i o n a l b o n d w i t h the sport. T h i s is e x e m p l i f i e d b y a s u r f b r a n d

representatives' narrative:

T h e e x h i l a r a t i o n o f c a t c h i n g a w a v e , the f e e l i n g is i n c r e d i b l e and hard to describe

but y o u j u s t k n o w it w h e n y o u get it. [It is an] e n l i v e n i n g f e e l i n g , b e i n g i n t o u c h

w i t h the ocean. [ S u r f i n g is a] hard sport to learn to d o . [It is a] natural f o r c e ;

p a d d l i n g out there, getting tossed around b y w a v e s and a m a z i n g f e e l i n g w h e n y o u

a c t u a l l y catch a w a v e and are s u r f i n g it. [ Y o u ] go through a lot to get that f e e l i n g .

[ S u r f i n g is] g o o d for y o u r health, keep[s you] i n shape, [and is] m o t i v a t i o n to get

into shape. [Surfing] gets y o u i n t o u c h w i t h nature. ( B - l , L i a m )

S i m i l a r l y , S h i l l i n g (2003) n o t i c e d this changed reaction i n his i ntervi ew s .


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When I ask her what is it about surfing that causes her to brave freezing cold

waters, she pauses for some time. Her answer is almost Zen-like and reflects the

crazy calm that surfing induces: ' Y o u get fresh air, some wind on your face, it

forces you to take deep breaths and it makes you look at the elements different',

(p. 23)

Similarly, a local Tofino surfer outlines the lifestyle aspect o f being a surfer is part o f its

appeal, "I love the beach. Living on the beach is so healthy and so amazing and just so

peaceful... Everything surrounds yoga and surfing and healthy food" (S-4, Ann). The

thrill seeking aspect o f surfing is part o f its appeal as illustrated by a retailers' narrative:

There is a sense where you are totally out o f control in the surf.. .In a beginner

setting you can go to a very safe environment but at the higher end it is definitely

(pause) you can push yourself well beyond and so finding your new boundaries,

exploring new limits.. .would definitely be an appeal for men and women

and.. .people who are risk takers. It just fuels that. (R-4, Scott)

Our own unique scene in Canada is part o f the appeal according to one surfer:

The weather and water conditions add to the experience... [You] can still surf

everyday in T o f i n o by yourself by traveling to a beach that has a longer hike in or

sometimes you can have these days at the most populated spots. (S-5, Stephanie)

The interviews identified several key aspects o f the appeal o f surfing including:

thrill seeking, love o f ocean, freedom - no rules, no regulations, lifestyle, and vertigo

(rush), self-expression, and hedonism. One commonality irregardless o f what surfing

affords them, was that the passion carried over into their daily lives.
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4.4 Evidence of Consumption

Female Surfers are Committed to Consuming SurfThemed Products

In order to participate i n the sport o f s u r f i n g one must c o n s u m e s u r f products.

S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) r e c o g n i z e "that c o n s u m p t i o n activities, product

categories, o r even brands m a y serve as the basis f o r s o c i a l c o h e s i o n " (p. 43). In the

narratives o f the female surfers it w a s c o m m o n l y stated that they w e r e c o m m i t t e d to

c o n s u m i n g surf-themed products.

A female surfer c o n v e y s h e r p a s s i o n f o r c o n s u m i n g s u r f brands i n the f o l l o w i n g

quote:

I l o v e s u r f clothes/surf brands. I ' m a l l about the brands. G i r l s t o t a l l y l o v e

b r a n d s . . .1 l o v e R o x y clothes; pretty m u c h e v e r y t h i n g I w e a r has the R o x y theme

g o i n g o n . It's e v e r yw h e r e . . . T h e clothes l o o k n i c e , are s t y l i s h , c o m f o r t a b l e and

are c o o l . . . W h e t h e r I get t h e m f o r free t h r o u g h R o x y or I h a v e to p a y $ 100 f o r

t h e m I l o v e s u r f brands. ( S - l , K e n d r a )

T h e s e statements indicate that this surfer is c o m m i t t e d to c o n s u m i n g s u r f brands

and also s h o w that she is w i l l i n g to invest i n these fashions. In c o m b i n a t i o n they suggest

an i m p r e s s i o n o f camaraderie i n that she says " g i r l s totally l o v e b r a n d s " . T h i s statement

was not s p e c i f i c to surfers. I f she w e r e to s a y 'Surfers totally l o v e b r a n d s ' she w o u l d be

demonstrating that as a group, surfers h a v e s i m i l a r c o n s u m p t i o n habits. Instead, the

focus is o n the penetration o f brands to the masses and she supports its m a i n s t r e a m

appeal.
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A n o t h e r surfer also admitted that she c o n s u m e d s u r f fashions. H o w e v e r , u n l i k e

the p r e v i o u s e x a m p l e , she wanted it to be clear that she was f u l l y c o m m i t t e d to

c o n s u m i n g s u r f fashions irregardless o f their s t a y i n g power.

It's c o o l . I l i k e the l o o k o f it. I do surf.. .1 d o n ' t l i k e the l o o k o f it j u s t because I

do surf. I h o n e s t l y l i k e s u r f f a s h i o n s . . .1 h a v e been attracted to that sort o f

c l o t h i n g style before it was e x t r e m e l y p o p u l a r and p r o b a b l y w i l l continue to w e a r

it after its popular. I guess I a m i n f l u e n c e d b y t r y i n g to stay s o m e w h a t m o d e r n .

(S-3, B r o o k e )

E s s e n t i a l l y , this surfer w a s e x h i b i t i n g tendencies o f ' s t y l e d e n i a l ' i n w h i c h she

wears and purchases branded m e r c h a n d i s e but d i d not want to be seen as " b u y i n g into an

i m a g e " ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 , p. 266). S i m i l a r l y , another surfer suggested that her purchase

d e c i s i o n s w e r e a l l practical and e x h i b i t e d further tendencies o f 'style d e n i a l ' :

Pretty m u c h a n y b r a n d s u r f attire or paraphernalia that I h a v e has been g i v e n to

m e as gifts. I d o n ' t b u y name brands l i k e R o x y or s u r f fashions. T h e clothes that

I w e a r for s u r f i n g l i k e m y wetsuit and m y rash guard and a l l that; that is a l l

f u n c t i o n a l . I d o n ' t n o r m a l l y b u y the n a m e brands but h a v i n g said that I do l i k e

the s u r f style. So I w o u l d say that I w o u l d dress l i k e a surfer but I refuse to spend

the amount o f m o n e y o n the clothes that I w o u l d l o v e to wear. (S-4, A n n )

T h i s surfer w o r e s u r f attire but d i d not purchase s u r f fashions. She wanted to

e m p h a s i z e her c o m m i t m e n t to c o n s u m i n g surf-themed products that w e r e practical but

d i d not want to be seen as s u p p o r t i n g the s u r f w e a r industry. E v e n so, her last statement

suggests that the f i n a n c i a l c o m m i t m e n t essentially is what prevents her f r o m a c q u i r i n g

s u r f b r a n d e d merchandise.
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C o r e female surfers base other c o n s u m p t i o n d e c i s i o n s o n their c o m m i t m e n t to the

s u r f i n g culture. A s o n e surfer c o m m e n t e d :

It affects e v e r y t h i n g . I got m a r r i e d i n F i j i o n a s u r f i s l a n d . T h e clothes I b u y h a v e

to be easy to put o n after I get out o f the water.. . W h e r e I travel [is] based o n h o w

g o o d the s u r f is. I have o n l y been to A r i z o n a once. ( S - l , K e n d r a )

T h i s supports the c l a i m that as o n e ' s c o m m i t m e n t extends into s u r f i n g , s i g n i f i c a n t

purchase d e c i s i o n s are i n f l u e n c e d b y o n e ' s d e v o t i o n to the sport.

4.5 Evidence of Subcultural Features and Conditions

I have d i v i d e d m y s u m m a r y i n this section into f o u r subsections based o n themes

that were i d e n t i f i e d i n m y a n a l y s i s : (i) h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l structuring; (ii) core values a n d

l o c a l i z e d differences; ( i i i ) s e l f t r a n s f o r m a t i o n ; and (iv) rituals.

/. Hierarchical social structuring: From hard core surfers to posers

M y analysis o f the s u r f i n g subculture f o u n d e v i d e n c e o f stratification and markers

o f s o c i a l status and w i t h i n group p o s i t i o n i n g . T h e " c o n s p i c u o u s d i s p l a y o f equipment or

subcultural s t y l e " ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 , p. 254) d i d not impact/affect a person's status i n the

subculture. Rather the p e r s o n ' s c o m m i t m e n t to the sport and s u r f i n g a b i l i t y w e r e

evaluated a n d seen as k e y indicators o f p o s i t i o n i n g . T h e f o l l o w i n g surfer's c o m m e n t

supports this c o n d i t i o n .

T h e r e are outsiders a n d i n s i d e r s . . . y o u prove y o u r s e l f i n the water. See p e o p l e

d i f f e r e n t l y b y seeing h o w they surf.. . L o s e respect i f p e o p l e drop i n o n p e o p l e . . .If

y o u ' r e r e a l l y g o o d y o u b e c o m e respected. S t y l e and equipment has n o t h i n g to d o


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w i t h it except m a y b e f o r p o s e r s ! ! N o t w h a t k i n d o f boards do y o u r i d e . . .that is

kooky! (S-l, Kendra)

S i m i l a r l y , another surfer c o n f i r m e d that p e o p l e ' s a b i l i t y is revealed i n the water.

T h e o n l y w a y I w o u l d c o n s i d e r m y s e l f an i n s i d e r is w h e n I see other people

pretending to be s o m e t h i n g they are not. Y o u can tell i n the water. O n c e y o u

start b e i n g able to understand what is g o i n g o n . Y o u can tell w h e n y o u w a t c h

p e o p l e ; w h o can do what and w h o can't. So it is very clear that w a y w h o can

s u r f or not. (S-3, Brooke)

A s u r f b r a n d representative a c k n o w l e d g e d that hard core surfers serve as c o n v e y o r s o f

product i n f o r m a t i o n i n the s u r f i n g c o m m u n i t y .

W o r d o f m o u t h i n the c o m m u n i t y spreads fast, almost overnight. T h e latest

products b e c o m e v e r y w e l l r e c e i v e d b y the c o m m u n i t y i f y o u get a p e r s o n that

surfs a lot and has purchased that product [ t a l k i n g about it then] it spreads. ( B - l ,

Liam)

O n e surfer a f f i r m e d that the d i s p l a y o f equipment does not g i v e a surfer any c r e d i b i l i t y

whatsoever.

It's c a l l e d b e i n g a poser. B u t it doesn't r e a l l y w o r k because as s o o n as they get i n

the water their identity is revealed. ' K o o k ! ! ! ' Y o u can o n l y pose w h i l e y o u are o n

l a n d right. W e a r i n g y o u r rash guard out to the bar is pretty easy to f i g u r e out that

y o u d o n ' t s u r f . . . I w o u l d encourage them to get out and try it. ( S - l , K e n d r a )

L i a m , a s u r f b r a n d representative said that i n order to b e c o m e accepted and

respected i n the s u r f culture, y o u h a v e to " p a y y o u r dues, be patient, be respectful o f

people that are g o o d , be respectful o f their territory, and w o r k o n y o u r s k i l l s " . He


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suggested that there is a f a m i l i a r i t y amongst the surfers w h o are h i g h e r up the h i e r a r c h y .

" T h e h a r d core surfers k n o w o n e another i n the water, they k n o w the g o o d spots, a n d

there seems to be a p e c k i n g order i f y o u are r e s p e c t e d " ( B - l , L i a m ) . A s u r f b r a n d

representative declared that, " T h e r e is a l w a y s a p e c k i n g order [ i n surfing] d e p e n d i n g o n

the p o l i t i c s o f the w a v e y o u s u r f or the beach y o u are a t " (B-5, Leanne).

O n e surfer thought that T o f i n o w a s m o r e a c c e p t i n g whereas other V a n c o u v e r

Island s u r f i n g c o m m u n i t i e s h a v e m o r e o f a h i e r a r c h y :

S o m b r i o and J o r d a n R i v e r is a little bit m o r e l o c a l . It is a little bit harder to get

accepted there. Y o u have to m a k e sure that i f y o u are l e a r n i n g that y o u d o n ' t get

i n their w a y . Y o u h a v e to k n o w what y o u are d o i n g out there. (S-4, A n n )

In order to be accepted i n the T o f i n o s u r f scene one must demonstrate his/her l e v e l o f

c o m m i t m e n t i n the water. S u r f i n g . a b i l i t y and k n o w l e d g e are indicators o f o n e ' s status i n

the subculture.

ii. Core values and localized differences

O n e c o m m o n a l i t y expressed throughout the i n t e r v i e w s w a s that, " T h e s u r f scene

i n C a n a d a [ T o f i n o ] is m e l l o w e r and m o r e a c c e p t i n g than other parts o f the w o r l d " (S-5,

Stephanie). A T o f i n o surfer w h o has traveled to n u m e r o u s g l o b a l s u r f breaks noted that,

" Y o u d o n ' t see this n u m b e r o f g i r l s s u r f i n g at other b r e a k s " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . S h e further

revealed that, " E v e n some o f the P r o g i r l s from C a l i f o r n i a n o w c o m e u p to s u r f i n T o f i n o

as w e l l " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . T h e s e statements suggest that the s u r f scene i n T o f i n o appears to

be attracting a n i n c r e a s i n g n u m b e r o f f e m a l e surfers.
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A s u r f b r a n d representative a f f i r m e d that the s u r f scene generally is m o r e w e l c o m i n g o f

women.

I t h i n k there is a lot o f acceptance out there i n s u r f i n g . If y o u go out as a g i r l to

any break I d o n ' t t h i n k y o u are treated as b a d l y as y o u w o u l d be i f y o u w e r e a

g u y . . . G u y s l o v e to see girls out there l e a r n i n g to s u r f and they encourage it. (B-4,

Trish)

A n o t h e r representative illustrated the u n a n i m i t y o f surfers:

[Surfers] embrace s u r f i n g as a l i f e s t y l e . . . Y o u meet l i k e - m i n d e d p e o p l e that are

s u r f i n g as w e l l . It is s o m e t h i n g that y o u can strive to do and that y o u can do o n

y o u r o w n . E a c h w a v e is about y o u as a p e r s o n . . . Y o u d o n ' t have to be a part o f

s o m e t h i n g to be a part o f the s u r f culture as l o n g as y o u want to s u r f y o u can go

out there and do it and b e c o m e a part o f it. (B-5, L e a n n e )

T h e interviewees u n a n i m o u s l y agreed that the r e l a x e d nature o f the sport and its

participants is part o f the allure o f s u r f i n g . S i m i l a r l y , a surfer c o m m e n t e d that there are

v i r t u a l l y no entry barriers into the s u r f culture, as she s i m p l y put it, "I think i f y o u feel

l i k e y o u are a surfer, y o u are a s u r f e r " (S-3, B r o o k e ) . T h e interviewees often situated

their experiences o f s u r f i n g i n T o f i n o w i t h i n the g l o b a l s u r f i n g culture. T h e responses

suggest that the s u r f scene i n T o f i n o is u n i q u e i n that m o r e w o m e n are d r a w n to its waters

and are w e l c o m e d once they are there. T h i s is supported b y the f o l l o w i n g surfer's

c o m m e n t s , " I n T o f i n o , w o m e n are accepted. [ T o f i n o is the] e x c e p t i o n to the rule. Guys

are c h e e r i n g t h e m o n and are v e r y supportive and h e l p f u l , g i v i n g equipment a d v i c e o r

other t i p s " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) .
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iii. Self transformation (deepening of commitment)

In order to be an a v i d surfer i n C a n a d a it requires a great degree o f c o m m i t m e n t .

T h r o u g h o u t m y o w n personal experiences c o l l e c t i n g data for this study and m y

d i s c u s s i o n w i t h the interviewees it was evident that the l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t was

representative o f a 'culture of commitment' ( W h e a t o n & T o m l i n s o n , 1998) i n w h i c h

several variables such as leisure t i m e , w o r k t i m e , career c h o i c e , and place o f residence

i n f l u e n c e o n e ' s w i l l i n g n e s s o r a b i l i t y to participate r e g u l a r l y i n the a c t i v i t y o f s u r f i n g .

A l o c a l retailer w h o was an enthusiastic surfer stated his c o m m i t m e n t as f o l l o w s :

" T h e s u r f l i f e s t y l e is s i m p l e . Y o u w o r k to s u r f and w o r k i s second, s u r f i n g is f i r s t ! " ( R - l ,

D a n ) . Perhaps h i s c o m m i t m e n t was fundamental to his d e c i s i o n to go into s m a l l

business. T h e c o m m i t m e n t to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e took precedence o v e r e v e r y t h i n g else.

A n o t h e r retailer e x p l a i n e d that " A lot o f p e o p l e try [surfing and even] do it for a

little w h i l e . [ B u t ] unless the c o m m i t m e n t l e v e l is r e a l l y there they w o n ' t stay, but they

r e a l l y have a great t i m e w h e n they are d o i n g i t " (R-4, Scott).

T h i s suggests that there is a baseline c o m m i t m e n t that is required. F i n a n c i a l l y , it

is i n e v i t a b l e , that even t h o u g h the ocean is a free resource there are other i n i t i a t i o n fees

once one decides s u r f i n g is s o m e t h i n g w o r t h p u r s u i n g . T h e s e i n c l u d e start-up costs s u c h

as the p r i c e o f renting and u l t i m a t e l y p u r c h a s i n g equipment i n c l u d i n g a wetsuit, g l o v e s ,

booties, and, d e p e n d i n g o n the l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t , a thi ck er suit for w i n t e r , and a h o o d .

Furthermore, a surfboard is r e q u i r e d and there are costs associated w i t h travel i n c l u d i n g

transportation, f o o d and l o d g i n g . B e y o n d the f i n a n c i a l c o m m i t m e n t there is also the

issue o f t i m e , both f o r t r a v e l i n g and t i m e needed to master the sport. A s o n e ' s l e v e l o f

c o m m i t m e n t deepens, his/her l i f e s t y l e becomes shaped b y the requirements o f s u r f i n g . A


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s u r f brand representative e f f e c t i v e l y s u m m a r i z e d the amount o f c o m m i t m e n t i n v o l v e d as

follows:

It is also a v e r y d i f f i c u l t sport and y o u have to be pretty c o m m i t t e d to d o i n g it

e v e n l i v i n g o n the west coast y o u still have to d r i v e 4-6 hours to get there. T h e r e

m a y or m a y not be w a v e s to ride w h e n y o u get there and i f there are y o u h a v e to

k n o w h o w to get th e m. Y o u have to rent a wetsuit and a surfboard and k n o w h o w

to paddle out there. (B-2, Jason)

A passage f r o m the s u r f f i l m Step into L i q u i d reinforces the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n

process that occurs i n s u r f i n g as a participants l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t deepens, " T h e r e

c o m es a t i m e i n e v e r y surfer's l i f e w h e n he realizes he is a l w a y s g o i n g to be a surfer,

forever. It's no l o n g e r what he does, i t ' s w h o he is. It's part o f h i s inner c o m p a s s " .

T h e l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t varies i n each surfer; h o w e v e r , one surfer's c o m m e n t s

illustrate n i c e l y the attractive f o r c e o f the sport once an i n d i v i d u a l identifies w i t h it.

" S u r f i n g is a d d i c t i v e . . . S u r f i n g is a change o f l i f e [or] ' l i f e s t y l e ' . [It's] y o u r w h o l e j o b ;

where y o u l i v e , and where y o u travel [revolves] around the fact that y o u s u r f ( S - l ,

K e n d r a ) . A n o t h e r s u r f retailer m a d e a s i m i l a r c o m m e n t .

M o r e w o m e n [are] m o v i n g out to places l i k e to T o f i n o , m o v i n g to places l i k e

S o o k e to be closer to the surf. T h e fact that there is a w h o l e tourist infrastructure

b u i l d i n g u p quite s i g n i f i c a n t l y i n T o f i n o so it can support y o u v o c a t i o n a l l y . . .a lot

o f the w o m e n . . .are entrenching themselves i n the s o c i e t y out there as o p p o s e d to

just t r i p p i n g out o n the w e e k e n d . (R-4, Scott)

T h i s was n i c e l y s u m m a r i z e d b y a surfer as f o l l o w s , " T o f i n o residents have m a d e a

c o m m i t m e n t to c o m m i t their l i v e s to s u r f i n g " (S-3, B r o o k e ) . T h e l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t


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required is u n i q u e to each surfer and is dependent o n h o w e m b e d d e d s u r f i n g is i n their

self-identity. T h e scene i n T o f i n o resembles a ' c u l t u r e o f c o m m i t m e n t ' ( W h e a t o n &

T o m l i n s o n , 1998) and due to its relative i s o l a t i o n requires m o r e o f an invested

c o m m i t m e n t than m a n y other g l o b a l s u r f locations.

iv. Rituals

T h e subculture o f s u r f i n g presents a u n i q u e set o f rituals that are l i n k e d to the

sport. S h i l l i n g (2003), identifies a c o m m o n practice seen i n s u r f i n g :

D e s c r i b i n g w a v e s is an essential aspect o f s u r f i n g . It's part Z e n and part p h y s i c s .

T h e s e surfers are l o o k i n g f o r ' m a c k e r s , ' a k a ' g r o u n d s w e l l s ' - w e l l f o r m e d o v e r

great distances, perhaps f r o m as far a w a y as the B e r i n g Sea. F o r surfers and

f i s h e r m a n a l i k e , the d a y starts w i t h the m a r i n e broadcast. S o m e gale up i n the

Q u e e n C h a r l o t t e Islands m a y b e c o m e a m y s t e r i o u s force that w o r k s its w a y d o w n

the coast. A l l day, surfer k i d s d r i v e up and d o w n the coast to c h e c k the surf, and

t i m e becomes a giant w a v e o f b u i l d i n g energy. It's a c r a z y m u l t i p l y i n g energy -

the bigger the w a v e the greater the ' s t o k e ' . . .and the need to get to the b e a c h , to

c l i m b into the surf, to leave the l a n d b e h i n d , (p. 16)

A retailer i n the study d e s c r i b e d a ritual for surfers w h o do not have direct access

to the sea, w h e r e they c h e c k w e b sites for w e b c a m s . " T h e internet is v e r y important f o r

surfers because a l l o f the forecasts.. . I ' m o n l i n e c h e c k i n g s u r f a l l over the w o r l d e v e r y

day. A l l the l i v e c a m s . . .If y o u l i k e s u r f i n g y o u l o v e w a v e s . Y o u l i k e l o o k i n g at w a v e s "

( R - l , D a n ) . T h e repeated practice o f a n a l y z i n g the f o r m a t i o n o f storms and the pattern o f


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w a v e s enables a L o w e r M a i n l a n d surfer to p l a n his trips to T o f i n o based o n the presence

o f waves.

A n observed practice amongst surfers is a n a l y z i n g w a v e s and s h a r i n g this

i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h i n the c o m m u n i t y . Surfers congregate around p a r k i n g lots to beaches

and l o o k at the w a v e s to see what w a v e s are present, and w h a t w a v e s are f o r m i n g i n the

distance. If no sizeable w a v e s are present surfers w i l l c o m m u n i c a t e w i t h other surfers to

f i n d out what l o c a t i o n is generating the best waves. S i m i l a r l y , u p o n a r r i v i n g i n T o f i n o ,

surfers c h e c k the tide b o a r d at the entrance to P a c i f i c R i m N a t i o n a l P a r k and do the

c u s t o m a r y c h e c k at L o n g B e a c h f o r w a v e s . W h e t h e r or not there are consistent sizeable

w a v e s w i l l i n f l u e n c e the d e c i s i o n to c h e c k elsewhere or to stay and go s u r f i n g at L o n g

Beach.

O n e ' s l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t w i l l also i n f l u e n c e what rituals they e x h i b i t . S o m e

surfers add a stop at one o f the b o a r d rental shops to their routine. T h e e m p l o y e e s o f

these s u r f shops often have already been out s u r f i n g and k n o w w h e r e the best s u r f is or

have heard what break is generating the best w a v e s . E a c h surfer has set routines i n order

to be able to s u r f and these m a y or m a y not be i n d i v i d u a l l y e m b e l l i s h e d . T h e s e i n c l u d e

p a y i n g the p a r k i n g fee at P a c i f i c R i m N a t i o n a l Park, g o i n g t h r o u g h various procedures o f

dressing and u n d r e s s i n g , w a x i n g boards, r i n s i n g o f f equipment, and s u r f i n g at sunrise or

sunset. T h e s e rituals w e r e repeatedly o b s e r v e d throughout the participant o b s e r v a t i o n

c o m p o n e n t o f m y study and suggested that p e o p l e tend to ascribe to a certain routine.

N o t a l l rituals are u n i v e r s a l amongst surfers but the surfers I observed e x h i b i t e d

c o m m o n a l i t i e s i n their routines based o n l o c a l requirements and customs.


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4.6 Surfing is a 'Commodity-Orientated Subculture' (wheaton, 2000, p. 26i)

W h e a t o n (2000) argued that s u r f i n g is a ' c o m m o d i t y - o r i e n t a t e d s u b c u l t u r e ' , i n

that surfers need to c o n s u m e products s u c h as equipment and c l o t h i n g to participate i n the

sport. S u b c u l t u r a l identity is often s i g n i f i e d b y the presence o f s u r f i n g equipment but the

k e y is that the equipment is necessary. A retailer suggested that, " I t ' s a pretty l o w tech

sport. H a v e b o a r d w i l l s u r f (R-2, P h i l ) . T h i s c o n f i r m s that the purchase or rental o f s u r f

equipment is a requirement o f s u r f participants. O u t s i d e the i n i t i a l investment it is a

r e l a t i v e l y affordable sport, i f the s u r f is nearby, h o w e v e r , these i n i t i a l costs are

considerable as supported b y the subsequent figures, " T o b u y a l o n g b o a r d is $ 1 0 0 0 plus

tax, $ 1 1 0 0 plus tax, wetsuit $ 5 0 0 , and that's an average c o s t " ( R - l , D a n ) .

T h e shared need f o r e q u i p m e n t and apparel is a point o f c o m m o n a l i t y f o r w o m e n

surfers and they often congregate around s u r f stores.

In certain times a year w e a l w a y s h a v e surfers c o m i n g t h r o u g h . . . A n d they are

not just b u y i n g s t u f f but s a y i n g 'hey, h o w ' s it g o i n g ? ' or ' s u r f this s u r f that'. T h e

p a s s i o n carries o v e r . . ..they a l l k i n d o f relate to each other. L o o k at it f r o m a

s o c i o l o g i c a l point o f v i e w they just have a m e d i u m they are i n c o m m o n w i t h . (R-

1, D a n )

A s a l o c a l surfer states, " S u r f e r s have s o m e t h i n g i n c o m m o n . G e t t w o surfers

together w h o never spoke b e f o r e and they are a l w a y s t a l k i n g " . T h e purchase o f s u r f

c o m m o d i t i e s is a facet o f s u r f culture, h o w e v e r , o n e c o m m o n issue that influences their

p u r c h a s i n g d e c i s i o n s is p u r c h a s i n g from core shops that are f a m i l i a r w i t h the sport o f

s u r f i n g and its c o m m o d i t i e s . T h i s is represented b y a l o c a l s u r f retailer w h o revealed that

independent s u r f stores g a i n c r e d i b i l i t y amongst s u r f participants:


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T h e s m a l l e r stores get a little bit m o r e o f a hard core f o l l o w i n g . F o r the amount

w e sell I w o u l d say that 3 0 % w o u l d a c t u a l l y be s u r f i n g and currently d o i n g it and

getting o n boards and g o i n g to the beach. (R-3, C o l i n )

A c o m m o n a l i t y expressed i n the i n t e r v i e w s was the issue o f authenticity. A

c o n c e r n f o r authenticity was expressed b y a l l interviewees irregardless o f their p e r s o n a l

a f f i l i a t i o n w i t h s u r f i n g or their status i n the s u r f products industry. T h i s is supported b y

the f o l l o w i n g c o m m e n t s m a d e said b y a surfer, " E v e r y o n e has their reason for it. I d o n ' t

want to w e a r that c o m p a n y because it is m a d e t h e r e " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) . S i m i l a r l y , another

surfer revealed that she is c o m m i t t e d to s u p p o r t i n g l o c a l retailers, "I w i l l go to anyone

l o c a l a n y d a y and g i v e t h e m m o n e y . I w o u l d prefer to spend m o n e y l o c a l l y i n s m a l l e r

stores or go to l o c a l b o a r d m a k e r s than b u y s t u f f at b i g g e r s h o p s " (S-3, B r o o k e ) .

A related aspect o f authenticity was the c o n d i t i o n o f b e i n g ' s o u l f u l ' . T h i s meant

that s u r f i n g was part o f o n e ' s m o r a l fiber and i n order to e f f e c t i v e l y represent the culture

one h a d to e x h i b i t a degree o f k n o w l e d g e and p a s s i o n f o r the sport. T h i s idea o f

'authenticity'' i s shared amongst retail store o w n e r s , retail e m p l o y e e s , s u r f b r a n d

representatives, and is important to surfers w h o c o n s u m e s u r f products. T h i s is illustrated

b y the f o l l o w i n g s u r f retailers' c o m m e n t s :

W e ' v e never been a store to h i r e eye c a n d y or y o u k n o w the person w h o d o e s n ' t

do. It is a l w a y s about the p a s s i o n f o r r i d i n g and that w e find m a k e s better sales

p e o p l e , a m o r e f u n staff, [and a] better place to w o r k . (R-4, Scott)

T h i s i d e a o f authenticity is further e x p a n d e d u p o n i n relation to the h o s t i l i t y s h o w n to

those c o m p a n i e s w h o l a c k ' s o u l ' and h a r d core representation. T h e independent retailers

s h o w e d little regard for c o m p a n i e s that try to b u y authenticity and are m o r e c o n c e r n e d


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w i t h the b o t t o m line. T h i s is reflected b y the f o l l o w i n g s u r f retailer's c o m m e n t s , "I t h i n k

i n terms o f V a n c o u v e r stores w e are the o n l y legitimate s u r f s h o p " ( R - l , D a n ) .

A c o m m o n theme i n the i n t e r v i e w s was that surfers want to purchase s u r f

products f r o m s o m e o n e w h o is passionate about the sport and a c t i v e l y practices it, as

illustrated b y the f o l l o w i n g retailers' statement:

I t h i n k it is a k e y element too that people have to be able to c o m e i n and see the

b o a r d up o n the c e i l i n g . . . P e o p l e d o n ' t want to go into a department store to b u y

their s u r f wear. T h e y want it to be k n o w n that p e o p l e s e l l i n g it to t h e m are k i n d

o f a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d as w e l l . (R-3, C o l i n )

S i m i l a r l y , a s u r f brand representative a c k n o w l e d g e d the i m p o r t a n c e o f d i s t r i b u t i n g to

core shops, "It is g o o d to h a v e y o u r product in.the right stores. That is the m o s t

successful m a r k e t i n g that y o u can h a v e w h e n y o u have y o u r target market w e a r i n g y o u r

p r o d u c t " (B-5, Leanne).

In order to e f f e c t i v e l y appeal to the authentic group o f surfers, i n a d d i t i o n to

targeting the masses, it is important for a retailer to s u p p l y s u r f h a r d goods. S u r f h a r d

goods are surf-themed p ro d u c ts that are c o n s i d e r e d essential requirements to practice the

sport o f s u r f i n g i n c l u d i n g : s u r f b o a r d s , wetsuits, rash guards, s u r f booties, g l o v e s , h o o d s ,

and s u r f w a x . T h e f o l l o w i n g quote illustrates the p r o f o u n d strength o f the core surfer to

the retailer, " Y o u have to sell the S e x W a x b e h i n d the counter w i t h the c o m b s to c o m b

the w a x o n , even t h o u g h 1 0 % o f o u r customers m i g h t b u y i t " (R-3, C o l i n ) . A retailer

defines a core surfer b y his/her c o m m i t m e n t to the sport as f o l l o w s , " A real core surfer is

someone w h o is s u r f i n g at least e v e r y w e e k e n d i f not m o r e , and p r o b a b l y l i v i n g o n the

Island, or m o v i n g s o m e w h e r e to do i t " (R-2, P h i l ) . C o l i n relayed the i m p o r t a n c e o f


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s e c u r i n g c o n s u m e r l o y a l t y o f core surfers as f o l l o w s : "It is d e f i n i t e l y about a p p e a l i n g to

the authentic s u r f group. It is a s p i n o f f f r o m there. It seems that i f it gets accepted there,

it seems to go to the m a s s e s " ( R - 3 , C o l i n ) .

F o u r out o f f i v e o w n e r s o f s u r f businesses i n t e r v i e w e d carried s u r f hard g o o d s or

a selection o f s u r f rentals. T h i s illustrates the i m p o r t a n c e o f targeting those w h o a c t u a l l y

surf, i n a d d i t i o n to, those w h o w o u l d l i k e to surf, and those w h o are c o m m i t t e d to

c o n s u m i n g surf-themed p ro d u c ts and thereby, p r o v i d i n g the c o n s u m e r w i t h an authentic

retail e n v i r o n m e n t .

T h e r e is a risk o f l o s i n g o n e ' s authenticity w h i l e e x p a n d i n g s u r f c l o t h i n g to the

mass market. A retailer c o m m e n t e d o n the a l i e n a t i o n m a l e c o n s u m e r s felt f o l l o w i n g a

store's t r a n s f o r m a t i o n :

W e ' r e actually s c a r i n g o u r m a l e clientele n o w . T h e y are c o m i n g i n g o i n g 'I

thought y o u guys used to be a s u r f store and n o w y o u ' r e a l l c l o t h i n g ' and w e ' r e

g o i n g ' N o ! N o ! D o w n s t a i r s is a l l hard g o o d s ! ' . . .1 t h i n k that side o f the business

p e o p l e are a c t u a l l y t h i n k i n g n o w that w e ' r e not s u c h an authentic s u r f store

anymore. ( R - 3 , C o l i n )

T h e r e is a fine l i n e b e t w e e n m a r k e t i n g authenticity and s e l l i n g out to the masses. It

seems e q u a l l y important to represent the g r o w i n g w o m e n ' s market i n s u r f i n g w e a r w h i l s t

p r o v i d i n g the surfers w i t h an authentic retail e n v i r o n m e n t . T h i s was a c k n o w l e d g e d b y a

s u r f b r a n d that wanted to change its market p o s i t i o n w i t h o u t c o m p r o m i s i n g its i m a g e :

[The brands owners] w a n t to see it e x p a n d m o r e g l o b a l l y . [ T h e y want to]

encompass the g l o b e m o r e [and] they d o n ' t w a n t to be k n o w n just as a s u r f b r a n d ,

and yet they d o n ' t want to lose their roots as a core s u r f b r a n d . ( B - 5 , L e a n n e )


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4.7 Link between Identity, Lifestyles, and Consumption

O n e o f the recurrent themes I f o u n d i n the i n t e r v i e w responses to questions about

s u r f i n g lifestyles was f o c u s e d a r o u n d the concept o f youthfulness. S u r f i n g and the

c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f i n g products are not age s p e c i f i c , instead they are l i n k e d to an i m a g e

o f youthfulness w h i c h is m o r e about o n e ' s m e n t a l i t y and attitude, b e i n g a participant and

l e a d i n g an active lifestyle. T h e concept o f youthfulness w a s u n d e r s t o o d to a l l o w w o m e n

o f a l l ages to i d e n t i f y w i t h the s u r f lifestyle. L i a m , a s u r f b r a n d representative stated this

b y s a y i n g , " [ Y o u ] d o n ' t h a v e to be y o u n g to be y o u t h f u l " ( B - l , L i a m ) . S o m e t i m e s the

category " j u n i o r " is m i s c o n s t r u e d as s y n o n y m o u s w i t h y o u t h . T h e i d e a is to market to a

" y o u t h f u l a u d i e n c e " (R-2, P h i l ) and the i m a g e o f r e t a i n i n g a carefree l i f e s t y l e .

T h e s u r f i n g culture creates a n e w site for identity f o r m a t i o n for female

participants. A s one surfer a f f i r m e d , "I t h i n k about s u r f i n g a l l the time. It's not the o n l y

t h i n g that is important i n m y l i f e but it is v e r y important and I guess it w o u l d h e l p define

w h o I a m and w h a t I d o " (S-5, Stephanie). H e r c o m m i t m e n t to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e w a s an

o r g a n i z i n g p r i n c i p l e i n the maintenance and e x p r e s s i o n o f her self-identity. A s a surfer

c o n c e d e d , " s u r f i n g is not s o m e t h i n g y o u do one day and then stop d o i n g . . .it is m o r e o f a

l i f e s t y l e t h i n g than a n y t h i n g e l s e " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) .

In the quest f o r a sense o f identity, a s u r f retailer a c k n o w l e d g e d the sensibilities

e m p l o y e d i n c o n s u m p t i o n patterns and l i f e s t y l e practices:

T o a certain extent y o u w i l l have p e o p l e w h o h o o k into a n y t r e n d . . .people w h o

l i k e to perceive themselves that w a y and sometimes the cart can c o m e before the

horse. S o m e t i m e s the search for identity w i l l d r i v e t h e m into b e i n g a r i s k taker

and sometimes it is the other w a y around. T h e k i d is n a t u r a l l y the r i s k taker and


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they tend to be the style and i n f l u e n c e leaders. P e o p l e w h o naturally gravitate

towards the style just because i t ' s w h o they are [and] what they l i k e . A n d the

other k i d s w h o see that team rider and want to l o o k l i k e h i m , act l i k e h i m , be l i k e

h i m and t h e y ' l l b u y the products that sponsor h i m . ( R - 4 , Scott)

Scott illustrated the d i f f e r e n c e between m e n and w o m e n w h e n u s i n g s u r f style as

a means o f a d o p t i n g s u r f i n g identity. T h e p r e c e d i n g q u o t a t i o n g i v e s attention to those

w h o emulate team riders through their c o n s u m p t i o n activities. T h e search f o r an i d e n t i t y

i n v o l v e s the c o n s u m p t i o n o f products that are l i n k e d to a s u r f i c o n and b y a d o p t i n g these

elements one d e v e l o p s an increased sense o f self-identity. W h i l e role m o d e l s are a part

o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , w o m e n are m o r e connected to the l i f e s t y l e than the current i c o n

representing it as Scott i n d i c a t e d :

T h e w o m e n h a v e n ' t necessarily had those same super strong role m o d e l s . . . R o x y

wanted the generic R o x y g i r l to be that p e r s o n . . . . W o m e n are a little m o r e

interested w i t h the experience than w i t h I want to be e x a c t l y l i k e her.. . . T h e y

w o u l d market a l i f e s t y l e and a q u a l i t y o f l i f e . ( R - 4 , Scott)

A c c o r d i n g to the interviewees, the i m a g e b e h i n d s u r f i n g advocates a p a r t i c u l a r

l i f e s t y l e : healthy, l i v i n g o n the ocean, b e i n g o n the water. T h i s i m a g e is what keeps the

i n d u s t r y so strong. T h e m a r k e t i n g o f this l i f e s t y l e captures the i m a g i n a t i o n o f females

and enables them to d r a w o n selective elements o f s u r f style i n their e x p r e s s i o n o f self-

identity.

A s u r f b r a n d representative a c k n o w l e d g e d the a d o p t i o n o f s u r f i n g i d e n t i t y t h r o u g h

consumption:
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I w o u l d say that is v e r y prevalent.. . e s p e c i a l l y i n a place l i k e C a n a d a . T h e best

w a y to e x p l a i n it is that w e ' r e a s n o w b o a r d nation or a s k i nation that does a little

bit o f s u r f that wants to act l i k e w e ' r e surfers.. .1 w o u l d say 9 0 % o f the p e o p l e i n

C a n a d a that w e a r a n y s u r f b r a n d are non-surfers.. .[We are] a b r a n d name that

identifies w i t h s u r f i n g and that is w h y p e o p l e w a n t to b u y it to be a part o f it so

they can pretend l i k e they are a part o f it... .It is for sure 1 0 0 % based o n p e o p l e .

W h a t they w e a r is their u n i f o r m or their i d e n t i t y to w h o they want to be or w h a t

they w a n t to be a part o f and right n o w I t h i n k that u n i f o r m , the l i f e s t y l e u n i f o r m

is a v e r y p o p u l a r one. (B-2, Jason)

In this quote J a s o n a c k n o w l e d g e s the appeal o f the l i f e s t y l e ensemble or ' u n i f o r m '

i n the creation o f o n e ' s self-identity. T h i s supports a process o f d i f f u s i o n as s u r f w e a r is

c o m m e r c i a l i z e d f o r mass c o n s u m p t i o n and enables c o n s u m e r s to i d e n t i f y w i t h the act o f

s u r f i n g w i t h o u t actually b e i n g surfers themselves. O n e o f the brands i n the study is often

i d e n t i f i e d as a s u r f b r a n d ; h o w e v e r , its m i s s i o n as d e f i n e d b y the m a n u f a c t u r e r is to be a

g l o b a l teenage l i f e s t y l e b r a n d . J a c k y a c k n o w l e d g e d the i m p o r t a n c e o f b r a n d identities i n

the e x p r e s s i o n o f p e o p l e ' s self-identities.

O n e o f the b r a n d ' s mottos is f r e e d o m o f c h o i c e w h i c h means that y o u d o n ' t h a v e

to be a part o f a n y one group. Y o u can choose w h o y o u w a n t to be. Y o u can

choose what y o u w a n t to wear. W e w o u l d l i k e y o u to choose [our brand] but w e

d o n ' t b e l i e v e i n the u n i f o r m , [being a] top to b o t t o m b r a n d . (B-3, J a c k y )

U n l i k e the other s u r f brands i n the study that p r i d e d themselves o n d r e s s i n g the

c o n s u m e r head to toe i n branded gear, this b r a n d w a s p o s i t i o n e d to c a p i t a l i z e o n p e o p l e

a s s e m b l i n g their o w n ensembles f r o m a v a r i e t y o f brands. J a c k y also a c k n o w l e d g e d that


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y o u n g g i r l s create a sense o f personal and group identity through.their purchases and

lifestyle choices.

W h e n y o u are a y o u n g person y o u first start to r e a l i z e that y o u are an independent

i n d i v i d u a l i n the universe. In order to f o r m w h o y o u are y o u connect w i t h a

group. S u r f i n g n o w has b e c o m e a group. It is a v e r y l o o s e l y affiliated group but

b y virtue o f these brands creating c l o t h i n g , they b a s i c a l l y say ' c o m e j o i n us, b u y

o u r c l o t h i n g , be part o f w h a t w e stand f o r ' . E s p e c i a l l y for y o u n g w o m e n w h o are

searching v e r y early for w h a t group they w a n t to identity w i t h . (B-3, J a c k y )

4.8 Diffusion of Surf Lifestyles and Products into the Mainstream

W i t h the g r o w i n g n u m b e r o f w o m e n s u r f i n g , the s u r f industry appears to be

u n d e r g o i n g a r e v i t a l i z a t i o n as a result o f the increased c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f products b y

surfers and m a i n s t r e a m c o n s u m e r s . T h e appeal o f the s u r f industry to m a i n s t r e a m

consumers was m e n t i o n e d b y J a c k y , w h o noted that " [ T h e s u r f l i f e s t y l e appeals to] the

m a j o r i t y o f y o u t h w h o never get near a b e a c h . It has captured the i m a g i n a t i o n o f y o u t h "

(B-3, J a c k y ) . L e a n n e , another s u r f brand representative, suggested that w o m e n are

c h a n g i n g the appearance o f the s u r f products market, " T h e r e is huge g r o w t h i n the retail

market o f girls w h o want to surf.. . G i r l s n o w m a k e m o r e m o n e y . T h e y are not as

restricted so they d e f i n i t e l y w a n t to spend m o r e o f their i n c o m e as w e l l " (B-5, Leanne).

In the m i d s t o f these market changes, y o u n g w o m e n h a v e emerged as an i n c r e a s i n g l y

important sub segment. L e a n n e suggested that it was the teenage p o p u l a t i o n that d r o v e

the s u r f trend f o r w a r d s :
T h e w h o l e m a i n s t r e a m aspect o f it is teen-generated i n retail, i n m a r k e t i n g , [and]

i n f a s h i o n . It was t i m e f o r [teens] to m a k e [a] statement that was new and f r e s h . . .

[The s u r f trend] was there and ready and h a d not been e x p l o i t e d yet. T h e teens

o w n that l o o k and that is what has b e c o m e m o r e m a i n s t r e a m about it. (B-5,

Leanne)

C e r t a i n trends emerged throughout this study that appear to be c o n t r i b u t i n g to the

d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles and products into the m a i n s t r e a m . It was w i d e l y suggested

that s u r f w e a r is p o p u l a r n a t i o n w i d e and that a n y o n e can w e a r it. Jason, a s u r f b r a n d

representative a c k n o w l e d g e d that the C a n a d i a n s u r f w e a r industry is r e l a t i v e l y s m a l l

scale but has created quite a f o l l o w i n g here i n C a n a d a :

C a n a d a ' s s u r f industry i n c o m p a r i s o n to the U n i t e d States [pause] i t ' s hard

because y o u c a n ' t go o n n u m b e r s because o u r per capita basis. W e are the size o f

C a l i f o r n i a right, 30 m i l l i o n p e o p l e r o u g h l y . . . C o n s i d e r i n g our c l i m a t e and

c o n s i d e r i n g o u r a c c e s s i b i l i t y to s u r f i n g and our p o p u l a t i o n I w o u l d say that the

penetration o f s u r f i n g and l i f e s t y l e is h u g e ! (B-2, Jason)

L e a n n e a c k n o w l e d g e d the uniqueness o f C a n a d a ' s s u r f industry:

T h e r e is m o r e o f a m a l l presence i n C a n a d a i n particular. Y o u are not g o i n g to

see that so m u c h i n C a l i f o r n i a [where] p e o p l e tend to still shop i n s u r f stores. T h e

idea o f s u r f culture i n C a n a d a is m o r e about f a s h i o n and is m o r e m a i n s t r e a m

because w e d o n ' t ' r e a l l y h a v e a h u g e s u r f area aside f r o m H a l i f a x and T o f i n o .

T h e r e is a huge s u r f l i f e s t y l e fashion-generated m o v e m e n t i n betw een those t w o

shores that has n o t h i n g to do w i t h whether y o u s u r f or not. (B-5, L e a n n e )


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S e v e r a l factors w e r e m e n t i o n e d b y the s u r f b r a n d representatives as c o n t r i b u t i n g

to the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f i n g identities a n d I b r i e f l y discuss f o u r o f t h e m : (i) the coolness

factor; (ii) the industry; ( i i i ) w o m e n - s p e c i f i c m a r k e t i n g and sales; and (iv) m a r k e t i n g to

j u n i o r consumers.

/. The 'Coolness'Factor

T h e interviewees g e n e r a l l y felt that the s u r f l i f e s t y l e e x h i b i t s an element o f

'coolness', a n d a surfer p r o c l a i m e d that this i m a g e o f c o o l is w h a t attracts g i r l s to the

surfing lifestyles:

R i g h t n o w i n this k i n d o f s u r f craze it w o u l d d e f i n i t e l y b e the c l o t h i n g o r the

i m a g e o f the idea o f c o o l , a n d s u r f i n g is d e f i n i t e l y m a r k e t e d as v e r y a p p e a l i n g

right n o w . I w o u l d say that w o u l d i n i t i a l l y attract w o m e n o r y o u n g w o m e n . (S-4,

Ann)

A s u r f brand representative a c k n o w l e d g e d that the s u r f l i f e s t y l e is a p p e a l i n g to

non-surfers as w e l l , " P e o p l e get a g o o d f e e l i n g about it whether they s u r f or not. Surf

w e a r is a l l part o f that f e e l i n g o f e s c a p i n g e v e r y d a y stress and b e i n g i n t o u c h w i t h the

ocean, the b e a c h , [and] n a t u r e " ( B - l , L i a m ) . A retailer suggested that the f a s c i n a t i o n

w i t h the s u r f culture is u n i q u e i n that p e o p l e still i d e n t i f y w i t h the l i f e s t y l e , " E v e n i f they

never surfed [before] they k n o w that they w o u l d l i k e i t . . .There is s o m e t h i n g about it, i t ' s

r e a l l y a different deal a n d f o r s o m e reason or another it just a l w a y s has a c o o l feel to

i t " ( R - 2 , P h i l ) . A s illustrated, this enthrallment w i t h s u r f culture has triggered the

d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles and products into the m a i n s t r e a m .


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A s u r f retailer e x p l a i n e d that the c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f products enables the

c o n s u m e r to i d e n t i f y w i t h the s u r f l i f e s t y l e .

I t h i n k because it m a k e s t h e m feel l i k e they can be a part o f that [lifestyle] e v e n

t h o u g h they are not, they a c t u a l l y can feel l i k e they c o u l d be. E v e n

w e a r i n g the clothes and seeing the advertisements m a k e s t h e m feel a little closer

to it even though they d o n ' t actually get to do it. (R-5, Suzy)

A c o m m o n a l i t y expressed i n the i n t e r v i e w s was that the c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f

products e v e n t u a l l y draws c o n s u m e r s to the water. T h i s f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h the s u r f culture

has b e c o m e a part o f their identity and it is o n l y a matter o f t i m e before they c r o s s o v e r

f r o m consumers to actual surfers. A l o c a l surfer a c k n o w l e d g e d the ' c o o l n e s s ' factor as a

reason w h y teens and pre-teens s u r f

It's c o o l , that is w h y teens and pre-teens s u r f . . . [They] got to have the nicest,

coolest hard-core s u r f c l o t h i n g . . . T h i s d e m o g r a p h i c is e x t r e m e l y important.

[They] m a y v e r y w e l l be t o m o r r o w ' s surfers. T h e s e w o m e n m a y keep s u r f i n g .

It's a c y c l e - [ i f they] start y o u n g m a y b e c o m e a lifestyle. (S-1, Kendra)

A c c o r d i n g to one surfer, "the f e m a l e professional surfer has increased the

awareness f o r w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g " and has been important i n m a i n t a i n i n g "the c o o l i m a g e "

(S-3, B r o o k e ) . T h e f e m a l e p r o f e s s i o n a l surfer gives girls s o m e t h i n g to aspire to and has

h e l p e d d i f f u s e the s u r f l i f e s t y l e to the m a i n s t r e a m .

ii. The industry

A n e m e r g i n g theme i n the i n t e r v i e w s was that s u r f f a s h i o n is entering into the

f a s h i o n industry, and the interviewees a c k n o w l e d g e d the interactive and cross-


109

p r o m o t i o n a l effects o f m u s i c , m o v i e s , art, and f a s h i o n . A retailer suggested that this

trend is apparent i n m a r k e t i n g p r o m o t i o n a l c a m p a i g n s c o m b i n i n g the m o v e m e n t o f

brands w i t h that o f m u s i c and art.

It is b e c o m i n g , w e c a l l it the industry. It is all starting to get r o l l e d into

o n e . . . m u s i c , m o v i e , f i l m , t e l e v i s i o n . . . T h e y are a l l starting to p u l l into there

t o o . . .high f a s h i o n . T h e r e are c o m p a n i e s that k n o w i f y o u get s o m e t h i n g o n

m o v i e . . . y o u h a v e created a trend. (R-4, Scott)

T h e i n t e r v i e w s revealed that this c o m b i n e d approach to art, m u s i c , l i f e s t y l e , a n d

culture has demonstrated the c r o s s o v e r effect o f 'board culture'. T h e i n d u s t r y is a

p l a t f o r m for the s u r f skate s n o w lifestyle and w h e r e f a s h i o n , art, and m u s i c intersect;

consequently, the s u r f l i f e s t y l e has d i f f u s e d to the masses at an accelerated rate.

O n e brand representative attributed their success to this relationship. " T h e

success o f [our brand] b l o w i n g u p so q u i c k l y is because [we] w e n t thru the m u s i c

channels and that appeals to e v e r y k i d ' . ( B - 3 , J a c k y )

T h e coolness factor and the industry w e r e i n t e r l i n k e d i n the sense that the s u r f

l i f e s t y l e and a l l things C a l i f o r n i a are m a r k e t e d as c o o l . It was suggested that one can b e

'cooler' b y c o n s u m i n g s u r f t h e m e d products and s u r f m e d i a . T h i s i m a g e has increased

the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles and products into the m a i n s t r e a m as demonstrated i n the

f o l l o w i n g b r a n d representative's c o m m e n t s .

T h e r e is a large i n f l u e n c e f r o m the m u s i c industry because that is i n i t s e l f c o o l

and k i d s w a t c h M T V , and they listen to the m u s i c and l o o k at what they are

d o i n g , and w h a t they are w e a r i n g so that w o u l d be a v e r y g o o d e x a m p l e o f cross-

m a r k e t i n g . (B-2, Jason)
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iii. Women-Specific Marketing and Sales

a. The development of women's surf stores and/or expansion of women's

lines at existing retail stores.

T h e retail interviewees c o n c e d e d that increased c o n s u m e r interest i n w o m e n ' s

s u r f w e a r and i n the s u r f brands market has lead to the d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c

s u r f stores and/or e x p a n s i o n o f w o m e n ' s lines at e x i s t i n g stores. M a n y o f these

expansions w e r e o c c u r r i n g d u r i n g m y data c o l l e c t i o n p e r i o d . It seemed that w o m e n w e r e

d r i v i n g these changes, and that w o m e n w e r e the ' m u s t h a v e ' consumer. A s a retail store

o w n e r suggested: " W e r e a l i z e d w e are t o t a l l y f o c u s i n g o n the w r o n g m a r k e t " (R-3,

C o l i n ) . T h i s retailer w a s i n the process o f o p e n i n g a w o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c store.

S i m i l a r l y , G r i f f i n (2003) has noted that the strength o f w o m e n as c o n s u m e r s a n d

as decision-makers i n their f a m i l y ' s p u r c h a s i n g d e c i s i o n s has i n f l u e n c e d retailers to

change their store e n v i r o n m e n t s to better suit their b u y i n g needs.

T h e trend towards w o m e n w i l l continue because w o m e n b u y s i g n i f i c a n t l y m o r e

c l o t h i n g and other items than m e n . . . G i r l s are n o w c o m i n g into core s u r f shops

and s p e n d i n g m o n e y . S o from a space standpoint, e x p a n d i n g the w o m e n ' s

o f f e r i n g s is just smart business. L o o k i n g at retail, y o u see that stores n o w h a v e a

better understanding o f h o w to m e r c h a n d i s e products and better c a p i t a l i z e o n this

d y n a m i c . . ..Retailers are p a y i n g attention to h o w g i r l s shop and are n o w creating

an e n v i r o n m e n t f o r t h e m that is h e l p i n g the j u n i o r s business to f l o u r i s h , (p. 28)

T h e i n t e r v i e w s and the observations I made o f retail spaces support the c o n c l u s i o n

that retailers are re-orienting their retail spaces to support the increased d e m a n d f o r

w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f fashions. T h e retail spaces demonstrated n u m e r o u s changes


Ill

i n c l u d i n g o p e n i n g separate stores or sections that s p e c i f i c a l l y cater to the f e m a l e

c o n s u m e r , the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f w o m e n ' s - s p e c i f i c product l i n e s , and increased

representation o f m a i n w o m e n ' s brands. A s u r f retailer a c k n o w l e d g e d these market

changes:

A previous b u y e r . . .helped to g r o w the female side o f the market to the point

where i n soft goods it was equal to the m e n ' s i n our store.. .It is a l w a y s thought

[ o f as] a guys s p o r t i n g g o o d s store that g i r l s can c o m e to. W e l l w e reached a

p o i n t . . .where w e w e r e c a r r y i n g e a s i l y as m u c h w o m e n ' s [product] as m e n ' s i n the

s u m m e r lines. (R-4, Scott)

S i m i l a r l y , the f o l l o w i n g s u r f retailer's c o m m e n t s h i g h l i g h t some o f the related

changes geared to the f e m a l e c o n s u m e r :

W e split o u r store i n h a l f this s u m m e r [2003] to m a k e it a m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e

s h o p p i n g e n v i r o n m e n t for w o m e n . . . W e h a v e female buyers instead o f m a l e

buyers b u y i n g female products. (R-4, Scott)

T h e s e s u r f stores w e r e p r e d o m i n a n t l y o w n e d b y m e n and they a c k n o w l e d g e d one

c o m m o n variable i n e x p a n d i n g their business, " G u y ' s can't start up a g i r l ' s store. You

need g i r l s to m a k e the d e c i s i o n s " ( R - l , D a n ) . T h e s e retail changes have been f u e l e d b y

the i n t r o d u c t i o n o f n e w labels or expansions o f e x i s t i n g lines at the brand l e v e l . A

c o m m o n a l i t y amongst interviewees is the i m p o r t a n c e o f h a v i n g y o u n g w o m e n m a k i n g

b u y i n g d e c i s i o n s . Interviewees stated that w o m e n tend to have superior trend k n o w l e d g e

as revealed b y a s u r f retailer, " W e do put it a l l i n the hands o f the g i r l s that are w o r k i n g

here too. T h e y tend to have their fingers o n the pulse t o o " (R-3, C o l i n ) . H e also

suggested that e m p l o y i n g w o m e n i n retail creates a c o m f o r t a b l e s h o p p i n g experience.


112

" W e are r e a l i z i n g that w h e n w o m e n c o m e i n to l o o k at w o m e n ' s fashions they are m u c h

m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e t a l k i n g to other w o m e n " (R-3, C o l i n ) . T h e s e retail changes have

encouraged the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f i n g lifestyles and products into the m a i n s t r e a m .

b. Increased growth in women and girls surf wear businesses.

T h e interviewees felt that trends i n c o n s u m p t i o n patterns a m o n g w o m e n and

y o u n g girls i n the sport marketplace have triggered b r a n d e x p a n s i o n s i n the l i f e s t y l e sport

marketplace. A s u r f b r a n d representative suggested that w o m e n have contributed to the

b o t t o m l i n e o f s u r f w e a r businesses, "just as far as c o n t r i b u t i n g to extra d o l l a r s that

w e r e n ' t otherwise there". H e c o m m e n t e d o n the g r o w t h o f this market and its effect o n

the p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f wear:

T h e w o m e n ' s sport m a r k e t . . . i n general i n sport whether it be g o l f , h o c k e y , s k i i n g ,

' its general appeal, tennis, r u n n i n g , y o g a , its d e f i n i t e l y a h u g e g r o w t h market. I

t h i n k c o m p a n i e s are starting to u n d e r s t a n d . . . e v e r y t h i n g w o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c . . .that

type o f c o n s u m e r wants to be i d e n t i f i e d w i t h and they want to have s o m e t h i n g

that is t e c h n i c a l l y better f o r t h e m . . .So w o m e n fit into it i n the sense that it is a

huge g r o w t h market right n o w and they are d e m a n d i n g to be m a r k e t e d towards

and they are p r o v i n g that they s h o u l d be m a r k e t e d towards because they are

s p e n d i n g the m o n e y . (B-2, Jason)

S o m e o f the pioneer s u r f brands are n o w d e v e l o p i n g j u n i o r (female) lines to

satisfy a g r o w i n g d e m a n d i n this market. It seems to be a natural p r o g r e s s i o n for these

brands to o f f e r a q u a l i t y product to the female c o n s u m e r as T r i s h r e l a y e d :


113

I just t h i n k there was n o t h i n g out there. [ W e were] r e a l l y the first c o m p a n y to

focus o n w o m e n ' s b o a r d sport c l o t h i n g l i k e w o m e n ' s b o a r d shorts. U p u n t i l then

there was n o t h i n g out there and I t h i n k they just felt it was just a natural

p r o g r e s s i o n f o r t h e m to o f f e r the same k i n d o f q u a l i t y p r o d u c t to the w o m e n . (B-

4, T r i s h )

T h e interviewees suggested that s u r f w e a r manufacturers are s e e i n g increased

e c o n o m i c prosperity w i t h their female lines as s u r f lifestyles and products are d i f f u s e d

into the m a i n s t r e a m . S u r f w e a r has m a i n s t r e a m appeal f o r several reasons as h i g h l i g h t e d

b y a s u r f b r a n d representative, " [ Y o u ] d o n ' t have to be a surfer to w e a r the c l o t h i n g .

[ Y o u ] d o n ' t have to be a p h y s i c a l surfer to feel y o u want to be part o f the s u r f s c e n e " (B-

1, L i a m ) . T h i s increased g r o w t h i n w o m e n and girls s u r f w e a r businesses appeared to be

c o n t r i b u t i n g to the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f i n g lifestyles into the m a i n s t r e a m .

O n e retailer contradicted the i n f l u e n c e o f s u r f businesses and suggested that the

increased n u m b e r o f w o m e n s u r f i n g is what p r o p e l l e d the m a r k e t i n g o f s u r f products.

I w o u l d say one w a s r e a l l y d r i v e n b y the other a n d . . .that the m a r k e t i n g c a m e

afterwards. T h e m a r k e t i n g k i n d o f w e n t ' h e y w a i t a m i n u t e , there is this c o o l

trend g o i n g o n . L e t ' s j u m p o n i t ' . . . T h e y just h o p p e d o n the b a n d w a g o n . . .more

than they h a v e d r i v e n it. In the R o x y case w h i c h is an a n o m a l y because

they.. .built it w i t h just the R o x y g i r l , the generic i m a g e o f this y o u n g , vibrant

a l i v e person w h o is out d o i n g things. I w o u l d say that they are not p u s h i n g it

bigger. So i f y o u w e r e to l o o k at the market l i f e c y c l e y o u w o u l d say that the

market n a t u r a l l y d r o v e i t s e l f to a certain p o i n t or the p o p u l a r i t y o f the sport

and the market was b e h i n d it i f y o u w e r e to o v e r l a y the t w o l i f e c y c l e s the market


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was b e h i n d it. B u t n o w i t ' s not plateau but it is i n c r e a s i n g at a d e c r e a s i n g rate.

So n o w I t h i n k the R o x y ' s and the B i l l a b o n g ' s and a l l these are g o i n g to d r i v e it

into another g r o w t h sport. S o n o w they w o u l d be responsible for a lot m o r e o f the

g r o w t h and the saturation, not just g r o w t h . (R-4, Scott)

These c o m m e n t s c h a l l e n g e the v i e w that marketers w e r e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the

changes and support the preeminent role o f surfers themselves i n the e x p l o s i o n o f s u r f

lifestyles and products to the m a i n s t r e a m . Y e t , the i n f l u e n c e o f the s u r f w e a r businesses

was w e l l supported throughout m y analysis and constitutes a l i k e l y contributor to the

d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles.

c. Development of women's specific products (surfboards, wet suits,

rash guards) and/or changed technologies.

T h e pattern o f d i f f u s i o n o f w o m e n ' s s u r f products appears to be c y c l i c a l .

Increases i n the n u m b e r o f w o m e n ' s and g i r l ' s s u r f w e a r manufacturers and marketers

appear to h a v e contributed to the d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c s u r f products w h i c h

i n turn, has encouraged m o r e w o m e n to s u r f r e s u l t i n g i n a larger market w h i c h attracts

m o r e manufacturers. A surfer suggested that " s u r f i n g was r e a l l y marketed to f e m a l e s " ( S -

5, Stephanie), and another surfer i d e n t i f i e d these changes as o p e n i n g up the sport to m o r e

women:

I w o u l d just say it m a k e s s u r f i n g m o r e accessible to w o m e n . In the b o a r d size

alone, it is v e r y hard to carry i f y o u c a n ' t fit the b o a r d under y o u r arm. A n d it is

v e r y a w k w a r d . . . i f y o u have to carry it o n y o u r head o r i n some p e o p l e s ' cases i f

y o u have to get y o u r g u y f r i e n d to carry it f o r y o u . It is v e r y frustrating to learn


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w h e n y o u d o n ' t h a v e equipment that is not fitted to y o u r b o d y . I guess it w o u l d

help create an i d e n t i t y because y o u w o u l d keep s u r f i n g . (S-3, Brooke)

O n e surfer revealed that s o m e w o m e n m a y not appreciate the t e c h n o l o g i c a l

advancements i n w o m e n ' s s u r f hard goods i f they d i d not s u r f t h r o u g h the change, "I

think i f y o u are already a surfer, y o u w i l l be m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e i n the water because w e

used to w e a r guys wetsuits. P e o p l e w h o d o n ' t s u r f they w o u l d n ' t r e a l l y k n o w the

difference" (S-l, Kendra).

T h i s quote p r o v i d e s e v i d e n c e o f some changes f o c u s i n g o n e n h a n c i n g the

experience f o r the actual surfers w h i l e other d e v e l o p m e n t s concentrate o n the m a i n s t r e a m

consumer. A s u r f b r a n d representative b e l i e v e d that i m p r o v e m e n t s i n t e c h n o l o g y h a v e

m a d e s u r f i n g m o r e accessible to w o m e n .

T e c h n o l o g y changes have i m p a c t e d the n u m b e r o f w o m e n s u r f i n g b y d o i n g

R e s e a r c h and D e v e l o p m e n t and b y h a v i n g products that are w o m e n ' s - s p e c i f i c it

w o u l d certainly encourage m o r e w o m e n to get i n v o l v e d and u t i l i z e e q u i p m e n t

that w o u l d h e l p them do the sport better. (B-2, Jason)

A s u r f b r a n d representative demonstrated the i m p o r t a n c e o f female p r o f e s s i o n a l

surfers i n product d e v e l o p m e n t :

L i s a A n d e r s o n is a w o r l d c h a m p i o n . [She is a] v e r y a c c o m p l i s h e d surfer and has

been integral i n h e l p i n g to d e s i g n a lot o f the pieces i n o u r l i n e so that the result is

products that are b o t h f u n c t i o n a l and also fashionable. (B-4, Trish)

T r i s h a c k n o w l e d g e d the strength and penetration o f a pioneer s u r f brand.

[ W e focus on] b e i n g as proactive as p o s s i b l e i n g r o w i n g the l i n e b y p r a c t i c i n g

a progressive style o f d r e s s i n g active girls for a l l facets o f l i f e . . .1 t h i n k they r e a l l y


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pride themselves o n the c o n n e c t i o n w i t h the J u n i o r c u s t o m e r . . .they are

progressive but they try to embrace a l l the elements o f l i f e w i t h their

c l o t h i n g . . .So there i s a lot o f p r o d u c t . . .It i s almost l i k e y o u can't t h i n k o f a l m o s t

a n y t h i n g that a y o u n g g i r l w o u l d want that w e d o n ' t produce. (B-4, T r i s h )

She reveals that p i o n e e r s u r f brands h a v e targeted b o t h the masses and the actual

surfers i n their product d e v e l o p m e n t s . T h e s e changed technologies h a v e m a d e s u r f i n g

m o r e accessible to w o m e n , i n a d d i t i o n to m a k i n g the s u r f l i f e s t y l e m o r e a v a i l a b l e to the

masses. T h e result o f this d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles and products is that m o r e g i r l s a n d

w o m e n are e m b r a c i n g the w h o l e s u r f experience.

d. Marketing to junior consumers

L a s t l y , the interviewees also d o c u m e n t e d the i m p o r t a n c e o f s e c u r i n g the interest

o f the j u n i o r consumer. A retailer revealed that the j u n i o r c o n s u m e r is a p p e a l i n g to

marketers for the purposes o f s e c u r i n g b r a n d l o y a l t y . " T h e y d e f i n i t e l y market early to try

and get b r a n d l o y a l t y . . .and they market d i r e c t l y to the y o u n g e r c o n s u m e r h o p i n g that the

b r a n d l o y a l t y w i l l carry o v e r " ( R - 4 , Scott). F u r t h e r m o r e , J a s o n a c k n o w l e d g e d the

importance o f g a i n i n g the support o f the j u n i o r c o n s u m e r i n order to secure its brands

m i s s i o n , " t o be the #1 s u r f b r a n d ; as far as its penetration i n the market as far as p e o p l e ' s

b r a n d a w a r e n e s s " (B-2, Jason)

A retailer also c o m m e n t e d o n the b r a n d l o y a l t y that s o m e brands generate:

There is s o m e serious b r a n d l o y a l t y out there and y o u can c a l l it l o y a l t y , b r a i n

w a s h i n g , w h a t e v e r y o u l i k e . [ T h e marketers] have done their j o b w e l l a n d

h o o k e d it i n h a r d and most o f the t i m e they h a v e to d o it through a l o o k . T h e y


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can't t o t a l l y cheat. T h e r e are some c o m p a n i e s that just p i c k out a team e v e n

before they h a v e any products because they go 'these f o u r guys are super c o o l , i f

they w e a r it, w e can s e l l i t ' . . .So y o u are g o i n g to see p o s s i b l y the g r o w t h o f that

i n the ladies industry w h e r e it hasn't been that before. Y o u w i l l see s o m e n e w

c o m p a n i e s that w i l l p r o b a b l y try and do e x a c t l y what the guys have d o n e . . .and

attach m o r e i c o n s to see i f that w o r k s . (R-4, Scott)

T h e brand-related i n t e r v i e w s s h o w e d that the tactics used to secure the attention

o f the y o u n g g i r l c o n s u m e r are dependent o n the b r a n d and often reflect the s u r f l i f e s t y l e .

A retailer noted that the appeal o f the s u r f l i f e s t y l e is often the f o c a l point o f a b r a n d ' s

m a r k e t i n g c a m p a i g n . " T h e w h o l e f u n b e a c h k i n d o f attitude that they are m a r k e t i n g so

w e l l i n all their literature [and] even all the h a n g tags that c o m e o n their c l o t h i n g [are] a l l

about y o u n g k i d s h a v i n g f u n at the b e a c h " (R-3, Colin).

It was c o m m o n l y cited that the y o u n g e r generation w i l l w e a r a certain b r a n d

based o n their identity. A s a s u r f b r a n d representative suggested:

I t h i n k that i n C a n a d a and again it w o u l d c o m e f r o m the y o u n g e r k i d s because

they are m u c h m o r e educated consumers. T h e y are m o r e s p e c i f i c . I m e a n i f y o u

are a hard-core skateboard guy, y o u w o u l d p r o b a b l y w e a r V o l c o m c l o t h i n g .

V o l c o m is a pretty e d g y core b r a n d . Q u i k s i l v e r and B i l l a b o n g I w o u l d n ' t say are

core brands. I m e a n they are and they aren't. In the general perspective o f that

educated c o n s u m e r they aren't c o o l e n o u g h . (B-2, Jason)

S i m i l a r l y , another retailer illustrated the same theme but f o c u s e d o n the female

consumer:
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T h e y w i l l c o m e i n and want a l l R o x y . I l o v e R o x y . I hear t h e m all w a l k i n g

around the store 'I l o v e R o x y ' and T just l o v e R o x y ' and they are w e a r i n g R o x y

a n d . . .then y o u w i l l have other p e o p l e that c o m e i n and say ' w e l l I d o n ' t w e a r

R o x y . I o n l y w e a r B i l l a b o n g because R o x y is v e r y g i r l y ' . So then y o u get the

one step b a c k from that the ones w h o refuse to go quite that g i r l y and they l i k e the

B i l l a b o n g and the O ' N e i l l and that is m o r e the sport g i r l , [they] are a c t u a l l y m o r e

the real surfer girls. (R-5, Suzy)

A s u r f b r a n d representative b e l i e v e d that a b r a n d s ' p o p u l a r i t y is also t y p i c a l l y affected b y

its b a s i c d e s i g n .

A lot has to do w i t h c o l o r , tit, and d e s i g n . If s o m e o n e sees a d e s i g n they l i k e and

a b r a n d they r e c o g n i z e , they w i l l b u y it. [In] certain times w h e n certain brands

are m o r e p o p u l a r than others, [it] has to do w i t h the designs the c o m p a n y has, the

value the c o m p a n y offers, [and] m a r k e t i n g that they are d o i n g . ( B - l , L i a m )

A retailer suggested that as s u r f lifestyles and products are d i f f u s e d into the

m a i n s t r e a m and y o u n g w o m e n and g i r l s are i n c r e a s i n g l y targeted b y b r a n d marketers,

one must be e x c e e d i n g l y cautious w h e n a p p r o a c h i n g this y o u n g e r d e m o g r a p h i c .

M a r k e t i n g towards the y o u n g customer y o u can m a k e huge mistakes. Y o u can

shoot y o u r s e l f i n the foot just l i k e that. I w o u l d rather do n o t h i n g and h a v e

t h e m s l o w l y start to b u i l d [up and] have them c o m e i n , have a g o o d experience

and then next t i m e they c o m e i n do a little better. (R-2, Phil)

T h e i n t e r v i e w s revealed that s u r f brands are m o r e proactive i n their m a r k e t i n g

c a m p a i g n s ; h o w e v e r , they often change their tone to capture the female pre-teen and teen

c o n s u m e r . T h i s is e x e m p l i f i e d b y the f o l l o w i n g s u r f b r a n d representative's c o m m e n t s :
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[Pre-teens and teens] are v e r y educated i n h o w they want to b u y and w h a t they

want so w e are certainly adapting and t r y i n g to a l w a y s be one step a h e a d . . .1

w o u l d say that the m a r k e t i n g strategy is a l w a y s c h a n g i n g . . .In order to be

successful y o u a l w a y s have to be adaptable i n f i g u r i n g out w a y s to reach t h e m

better. (B-2, Jason)

A n o t h e r brand representative revealed that s o c i a l groups often i n f l u e n c e youths

purchase d e c i s i o n s and that these groups are constantly e v o l v i n g .

In elementary s c h o o l the group y o u h o o k up w i t h r e a l l y dictates w h a t y o u are

g o i n g to b u y . S u d d e n l y y o u r group decides, it is l i k e a c o l l e c t i v e

u n c o n s c i o u s n e s s , that this is c o o l and this is what w e are g o i n g to b u y and it j u s t

filters d o w n . . . [Style] changes just l i k e that and w i t h g i r l s it changes m o r e

q u i c k l y than it does w i t h b o y s . (B-3, J a c k y )

4.9 Role of Media in the Diffusion of Surf Lifestyles

A s a f i n a l c o n d i t i o n , the m e d i a w e r e p e r c e i v e d b y the interviewees as c o n t r i b u t i n g

to the g r o w t h i n interest about s u r f i n g and to the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f i n g lifestyles.

D e p i c t i o n s o f s u r f i n g w e r e w i d e s p r e a d i n the m e d i a d u r i n g m y data c o l l e c t i o n p e r i o d . A s

G r f f i n (2003b) wrote at the t i m e :

It is u n l i k e l y c o n s u m e r s c o u l d have m i s s e d a l l o f the s u r f i n g i n the m a i n s t r e a m

m e d i a this s u m m e r [2003]. In a d d i t i o n to ' B o a r d i n g H o u s e : N o r t h S h o r e ' and

M T V ' s ' S u r f G i r l s ' , there was F o x t e l e v i s i o n garnering a hit w i t h ' T h e

O . C ' . . . w h i c h is h e a v i l y i n f l u e n c e d b y the current f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h the s u r f

lifestyle, (p. 24)


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Other e x a m p l e s o f the g r o w i n g presence o f s u r f i n g was the release o f w o m e n ' s

o n l y s u r f v i d e o s , the a d d i t i o n o f s u r f i n g to the S u m m e r X G a m e s [in 2 0 0 3 ] , the presence

o f s u r f i n g i n p o p culture (in m u s i c v i d e o s and H o l l y w o o d m o v i e s ) , and the emergence o f

s u r f trends o n r u n w a y s and w i t h non-surf c o m p a n i e s ( G r i f f i n , 2 0 0 3 b ) . It was

i n c r e a s i n g l y evident that s u r f i n g intersected w i t h f a s h i o n and m u s i c at an augmented rate

throughout this t i m e period. Further evidence o f this c o n n e c t i o n was evident at the M T V

T e e n C h o i c e A w a r d s i n w h i c h a w a r d recipients r e c e i v e d a s u r f b o a r d as their t r o p h y f o r

w i n n i n g their respective a w a r d category.

T r i s h , a b r a n d representative o f a g l o b a l l y a c c l a i m e d s u r f b r a n d credited the

m e d i a w i t h a lot o f the g r o w t h i n the s u r f products industry.

I t h i n k it has to do w i t h a lot o f the m e d i a and the w a y that the s u r f brands have

b e c o m e so p o p u l a r and girls are w e a r i n g the stuff, and then they w a n t to a c t u a l l y

be part o f the l i f e s t y l e , and then B l u e C r u s h that c a m e out last year, and there is

m o r e surfer v i d e o s and T V shows and it is sort o f i n f i l t r a t i n g into the m a i n s t r e a m

n o w . (B-4, T r i s h )

A n o t h e r b r a n d representative credited the m e d i a w i t h c h a n g i n g the lifestyles o f

women:

It is r e a l l y a market generated w o r l d . . . T h e ad c a m p a i g n s that y o u see are all

targeted [and] these c a m p a i g n s h a v e been so s u c c e s s f u l . W o m e n are b e c o m i n g

m u c h m o r e o u t g o i n g and adventurous, confident and independent because that is

the i m a g e that is b e i n g portrayed [by the m e d i a that it is] what w o m e n i n this era

are l i k e . (B-5, L e a n n e )
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/. Print media

W i t h the rise i n p o p u l a r m e d i a portrayals o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g as an e m p o w e r i n g

a c t i v i t y (e.g., the f i l m " B l u e C r u s h ) , it is not s u r p r i s i n g that print m e d i a are f o l l o w i n g this

same trend. A n e x a m i n a t i o n o f s u r f i n g p u b l i c a t i o n s demonstrated that w o m e n are b e i n g

targeted b y n e w s u r f i n g m a g a z i n e s that send e m p o w e r i n g messages to w o m e n . This

m a k e s sense, because, as B o o t h (2001) indicates " S i l e n c e is a f o r m o f d i s c o u r a g e m e n t ,

and the l i m i t e d coverage o f w o m e n i n t r a d i t i o n a l m a l e - d o m i n a t e d s u r f i n g m a g a z i n e s

e f f e c t i v e l y d e n i e d t h e m access to 'the s y m b o l i c resources needed to i d e n t i f y as s u r f e r s ' "

(p. 13). In order to m a i n t a i n c i r c u l a t i o n these m a g a z i n e s need to g a i n readership and

reach the female c o n s u m e r i n a m e a n i n g f u l w a y . S u r f S n o w Skate G i r l m a g a z i n e ( S G )

p r e v i o u s l y k n o w n as S u r f i n g G i r l m a g a z i n e is a successful e x a m p l e o f this a p p r o a c h and

is q u i c k l y b e c o m i n g the g i r l s ' source f o r the surf/snow/skate/lifestyle industry.

A regular r e a d i n g o f S G d u r i n g this t i m e p e r i o d reflected s o m e o f the themes that

w e r e prevalent i n m y study. I r o u t i n e l y r e v i e w e d S G m a g a z i n e f r o m its i n i t i a t i o n i n

O c t o b e r o f 2 0 0 2 and throughout m y data analysis. T h e p l a c e m e n t o f advertisements

revealed a consistent order o v e r t i m e . T h e esteemed brands w o u l d place their

advertisements near the covers and i n the first f e w pages o f the p u b l i c a t i o n . T h e s e brands

g e n e r a l l y appeared i n the same order f r o m m o n t h to m o n t h and they w o u l d be i n one o f

three f o r m s : an action shot, a product placement ad, or a l i f e s t y l e i m a g e . B y s w i t c h i n g

f r o m an a c t i o n shot to a l i f e s t y l e i m a g e , it was apparent that these brands w e r e e q u a l l y

targeting b o t h the surfers and non-surfers i n their advertisements. T h i s c o u l d be a part o f

the b r a n d ' s m a r k e t i n g strategy as a s u r f b r a n d representative suggested that, " L i f e s t y l e

shots as o p p o s e d to core g i r l s s u r f i n g are g o i n g to sell m o r e p r o d u c t s " (B-5, L e a n n e ) .


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Furthermore, these advertisements almost a l w a y s i n c l u d e d w e b l i n k s that enabled the

reader to gain i m m e d i a t e access to the b r a n d ' s w e b site. A s L e a n n e revealed, "I d o n ' t

think any c o m p a n y that wants to get their product out there g l o b a l l y can do w i t h o u t the

internet" (B-5, Leanne).

A n o t h e r noticeable trend was the r e l a t i o n s h i p between s u r f i n g , s u r f fashions and

m u s i c . F u r t h e r m o r e , the c r o s s o v e r between b o a r d sports was supported i n that the

crossover lifestyle was illustrated throughout the pages. T h i s p u b l i c a t i o n p a r t i c u l a r l y

appealed to y o u n g g i r l s and demonstrated editorial strategies u t i l i z e d i n other girl-

oriented m a g a z i n e s (e.g. C o s m o G I R L , Seventeen, and T e e n V o g u e ) i n c l u d i n g f a s h i o n

trends, beauty tips, b o y s , and horoscopes. T h i s m a g a z i n e targets consumers w h o are

fascinated w i t h the casual, beach l i f e s t y l e w h o m a y not subscribe to a n y core print

p u b l i c a t i o n . A s a retailer suggested, " A l l these c o m p a n i e s l i k e R o x y , Q u i k s i l v e r e v e n

through the s u r f m a g a z i n e s and a l l that, they are r e a l l y targeting that y o u n g e r c r o w d " (R-

3, C o l i n ) . A s u r f b r a n d representative suggested that m a r k e t i n g strategies are s p e c i f i c to

the d e m o g r a p h i c b e i n g targeted:

O u r ad strategy [is to] appeal to Y o u t h . Create some reaction, a r e s p o n s e . . .Three

elements [in our print ad c a m p a i g n s ] : r e c o g n i z a b l e team rider, c l a s s i c s u r f shot,

and s o m e t h i n g t o t a l l y out there.. . W i t h ads y o u have to take y o u r step apart f r o m

other c o m p a n i e s . . .the k i d s are the ones b u y i n g the s u r f m a g a z i n e s . ( B - l , L i a m )

H e suggested the f o l l o w i n g as characteristics o f print ads that are m o r e geared to w o m e n ,

" T h e ads for w o m e n are m o r e for the c l o t h i n g [and] advertised i n S u r f i n g G i r l [name o f

S G until September 2002]. [There are] no s p e c i f i c wetsuit a d s " ( B - l , L i a m ) . A


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c o m p e t i n g brand revealed, "I t h i n k the tone is m o r e f e m i n i n e . It is still the same lifestyle.

Y o u k n o w still sort o f the same i m a g e just m o r e f e m i n i n e " (B-4, T r i s h ) .

J a c k y a c k n o w l e d g e d product p l a c e m e n t as b e i n g m o r e effective i n g i r l s '

magazines:

W e are d o i n g a lot o f product placement w i t h the m a g a z i n e s . I f y o u read the

articles they talk about w h a t ' s hot, w h a t ' s not, w h a t ' s c o o l i n c l o t h i n g and so [our

brand] is getting p l a c e m e n t i n a d d i t i o n to p u t t i n g ads i n the m a g a z i n e s . P r o d u c t

placement seems to be m o r e effective as g i r l s c a n search i n stores f o r that

particular product. T h e readership o f T e e n P e o p l e is 1.6 m i l l i o n so w e have great

exposure. M o r e exposure means m o r e g i r l s b u y i n g o u r product. (B-3, J a c k y )

Several V a n c o u v e r S u n articles p u b l i s h e d after the release o f B l u e C r u s h

indicated that L o w e r M a i n l a n d retailers w e r e b e n e f i t i n g f r o m the increased appeal o f the

s u r f culture a n d suggested that the film's release had an e x p l o s i v e effect o n the p o p u l a r i t y

o f beach w e a r i n general ( K l a f f e , 2 0 0 2 ; L e e m i n g , 2 0 0 2 ) . F u r t h e r m o r e , these articles gave

attention to w o m e n surfers and the l o c a l B C s u r f scene. A s u r f retailer noted the h i g h

v i s i b i l i t y o f s u r f i n g i n the l o c a l print m e d i a at the time.

E v e r y t i m e y o u p i c k u p either a G e o r g i a Straight or a B C I T ad it has a surfer o n it.

L o o k at an ad f o r the P l e n t y store, it has a g i r l d u c k - d i v i n g , that has n o t h i n g to d o

w i t h Plenty. E v e r y i m a g e out there is c o p y i n g the s u r f lifestyle. (R-2, P h i l )

//. Electronic Media

I m p r o v e d technologies have helped photographers capture v i v i d in-water shots o f

s u r f i n g that enable the audience to share the experience o f the surfer. T h i s r e a l i s m


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c o u p l e d w i t h the rise i n p o p u l a r m e d i a portrayals o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g as an e m p o w e r i n g

a c t i v i t y have h a d an i n c r e d i b l y p o s i t i v e effect o n the i m a g e o f the sport and as a result,

have further increased its p o p u l a r i t y . U n i v e r s a l ' s B l u e C r u s h was p o s i t i v e l y r e c e i v e d b y

the m a i n s t r e a m press i n their r e v i e w s and made respectable returns at the b o x o f f i c e s .

Surfer m a g a z i n e suggested that B l u e C r u s h h a d e f f e c t i v e l y captured w o m e n ' s

surfing.

B l u e C r u s h - the story o f a y o u n g g i r l surfer s t r u g g l i n g to p r o v e h e r s e l f o n the

N o r t h Shore w h i l e f i n d i n g l o v e i n the process - i s , i n actuality, m e r e l y a series o f

scenes l i f t e d almost d i r e c t l y f r o m other H o l l y w o o d s u r f m o v i e s . . .But despite its

c o m p l e t e l a c k o f o r i g i n a l i t y , B l u e C r u s h does capture s o m e t h i n g that a l l these

p r e v i o u s s u r f pictures f a i l e d to: an i n s p i r a t i o n a l v i t a l i t y , e m b o d i e d b y t o d a y ' s

liberated f e m a l e surfers. H o w appropriate that after 4 0 years o f t h i n l y - v e i l e d

m i s o g y n y and male-dominated portrayals o f the sport, it took a f i l m about g i r l

surfers to p r o v i d e this ( G e o r g e , 2 0 0 2 ) .

M a n y o f the surfers I i n t e r v i e w e d a c k n o w l e d g e d the m o v i e as b e i n g

representative o f w h a t it feels l i k e to surf. " V e r y r e a l i s t i c . . .girls h e l d b a c k b y fear. [I]

l i k e d the fact that the girls w e r e d o i n g the t e a c h i n g " (S-4, A n n ) . A n o t h e r surfer l i k e d the

s u r f i n g but d i s l i k e d the plot. r

I want to hate it but I l o v e it. I l i k e d the s u r f footage. T h e y d i d an excellent j o b

o f c ap tu ri n g w h a t it felt l i k e to be o n a w a v e to capturi ng what it felt l i k e to be

under a w a v e and j u s t the water.. .the s o u n d o f the water. Y o u c o u l d feel it. I

hated the H o l l y w o o d s t o r y . . .poor portrayal o f s u r f i n g culture b y a d d i n g the

r o m a n c e aspect. (S-3, B r o o k e )
A c o m m o n theme expressed i n the i n t e r v i e w s was that B l u e C r u s h had increased

the p o p u l a r i t y o f s u r f fashions and had d r a w n m o r e y o u n g g i r l s to surf. A surfer stated

that, " B l u e C r u s h has o p e n e d up girls s u r f i n g , increased the l i k e l i n e s s for female pre-

teens to try s u r f i n g and has increased attendance at s u r f c a m p s " ( S - l , K e n d r a ) .

T h e release o f B l u e C r u s h strengthened the m e d i a h y p e s u r r o u n d i n g w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g and i t s e l f p o t e n t i a l l y contributed to the g r o w t h o f the industry. T o f i n o , o n c e a

quiet f i s h i n g t o w n b e c a m e a p o p u l a r destination for reporters and j o u r n a l i s t s w h o w e r e

fascinated b y C a n a d i a n s u r f culture and the increase i n n u m b e r o f females t a k i n g to the

sport and its attendant l i f e s t y l e .

A n interesting p o i n t that questions the i n f l u e n c e o f s u r f i n g m e d i a and promotes

further d i s c u s s i o n i n regards to the role o f m e d i a i n the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles w a s

m a d e b y Scott, a retailer.

T o see.. . B l u e C r u s h b e i n g a great m e d i a m a r k e t i n g t o o l that was u s e d to d r i v e

f o r w a r d so m a n y y o u n g g i r l s into the s u r f and that w a s k i n d o f an after event l i k e

the g i r l s w e r e already g o i n g into i t . . . S e l d o m is a m o v i e so g r o u n d b r e a k i n g or

m e d i a so g r o u n d b r e a k i n g that it drives a trend f o r w a r d . It u s u a l l y f o l l o w s the

trend. (R-4, Scott)

T h e i n f l u e n c e o f the m e d i a i n the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f lifestyles was a c o m m o n theme

i n the interviews. P r o d u c t placements i n m o v i e s can generate a great deal o f attention f o r

brands and B l u e C r u s h was no e x c e p t i o n . A s one retailer e x p l a i n e d , " B l u e C r u s h was

huge. W e s o l d those B i l l a b o n g rash guards from the p r o d u c t i o n . E v e r y o n e h a d to have

o n e " (R-3, C o l i n ) . A l l the retailers c o n c e d e d that B l u e C r u s h contributed to increased

sales for the B i l l a b o n g rash guards that w e r e s h o w n i n the m o v i e .


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T h e internet was also repeatedly a c k n o w l e d g e d for its i m p o r t a n c e i n a brands

m a r k e t i n g strategy. T h e interviewees cited the internet as a k e y t o o l i n p r o v i d i n g

consumers w i t h product k n o w l e d g e and b r a n d awareness. A s u r f b r a n d representative

s u m m a r i z e d the i m p o r t a n c e o f the internet as f o l l o w s :

I t h i n k international w e b sites s h o u l d be frequently u p d a t e d . . .it lets p e o p l e k n o w

about the different c o m p e t i t i o n s around the w o r l d and h o w p e o p l e do at t h e m , and

w h a t [the brands] n e w t e c h n o l o g y is and y o u can v i e w products o n l i n e w h i c h is

r e a l l y important. (B-5, Leanne)


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CHAPTER V - DISCUSSION

B y a n a l y z i n g a series o f conservations w i t h three diverse groups that represent the

C a n a d i a n s u r f scene and s u r f w e a r industry, this study has attempted to g a i n greater

insight into the w o m e n ' s s u r f culture i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a , and the m a r k e t i n g activities o f

the C a n a d i a n s u r f wear industry. F r o m this e x p l o r a t i o n , there w e r e n i n e k e y areas that

emerged. S e v e r a l theories and trends i n the sport m a r k e t i n g , sport s o c i o l o g y , and

c o n s u m e r research d i s c i p l i n e s shaped this thesis. T h i s chapter w i l l reflect o n those areas

e x h i b i t e d throughout this study and evaluate t h e m i n accordance w i t h trends that are

occurring worldwide.

T h i s thesis has p r o v i d e d e v i d e n c e o f the extent to w h i c h surfers, c o n s u m e r s ,

retailers, and s u r f brands intersect. Several inter-penetrating themes e m e r g e d i n the

analysis o f the results that have created several opportunities f o r r e f l e c t i o n and

d i s c u s s i o n . T h i s chapter w i l l e x a m i n e these factors w h i l s t returning to the m a i n

objectives o f this study: (i) to c r i t i c a l l y e x a m i n e h o w the m a r k e t i n g o f s u r f products

affects s u r f i n g lifestyles and product c o n s u m p t i o n ; and (ii) to describe h o w s u r f l i f e s t y l e s

and products, i n turn, b e c o m e d i f f u s e d to a larger p o p u l a t i o n o f y o u n g w o m e n and g i r l s .

T h e four m a i n hypotheses o f this research w i l l be a n a l y z e d and the v i a b i l i t y o f s u r f i n g as

a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n w i l l be determined.

T h i s chapter h i g h l i g h t s : (a) r e f l e c t i n g o n trends i n the w o m e n ' s sport m a r k e t p l a c e ;

(b) r e f l e c t i n g o n trends i n C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g ; (c) r e f l e c t i n g o n s u r f b r a n d

m a r k e t i n g ; and (d) r e f l e c t i n g o n subcultural theory.

M e a n w h i l e , f o l l o w i n g the d i s c u s s i o n p o r t i o n o f this thesis an e p i l o g u e is i n c l u d e d

to s u m m a r i z e what I learned as an active participant i n this industry. T h i s e p i l o g u e


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a l o n g s i d e the d i s c u s s i o n p o r t i o n o f this thesis shall p r o v i d e insights into the r o l e o f

r e t a i l i n g and b r a n d m a r k e t i n g i n the e x p a n s i o n o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and d o c u m e n t trends

that are o c c u r r i n g i n the w o m e n ' s sports product marketplace. B y p r o v i d i n g a w i n d o w o f

k n o w l e d g e as a n i n s i d e r i n the s u r f industry, I w i l l reflect o n m y interactions w i t h surfers,

s u r f b r a n d representatives, and c o n s u m e r s ; i n a d d i t i o n to, p r o v i d i n g other i n f o r m a t i o n

that c a n further support this research.

5.1 Reflecting on Trends in the Women's Sport Marketplace

A l t h o u g h there is evidence o f w o m e n s u r f i n g since the 1700s ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ) ,

" o n l y recently has the sport gained m u c h v i s i b i l i t y " ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 , p. 53).

W o m e n p l a y e d a m i n o r role i n the early d e v e l o p m e n t o f B C s u r f i n g . T h e late 1990s

m a r k e d a s i g n i f i c a n t change w i t h m o r e and m o r e w o m e n t r y i n g the sport ( S h i l l i n g , 2 0 0 3 ) .

In recent years, s u r f i n g has permeated v i r t u a l l y e v e r y aspect o f y o u t h sport and culture,

f r o m the clothes to the m u s i c . T h e s u r f industry has e x p l o d e d g l o b a l l y and a l o n g w i t h it

so has the m e d i a w i t h a l l g i r l s s u r f v i d e o s and m a g a z i n e s . M o r e w o m e n are attending

girls-only s u r f i n g c a m p s and p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n c o m p e t i t i o n s . T h e changes i n w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g are e n c o u r a g i n g and several can be attributed to m a r k e t i n g . " A s a c o n s u m e r

group, w o m e n n o w possess the m a r k e t i n g potential to m a k e a s i g n i f i c a n t i m p a c t u p o n the

b o t t o m l i n e o f c o n s u m e r and spectator sport o r g a n i z a t i o n s that are w i l l i n g to c o n s i d e r

these o b v i o u s trends i n the sport m a r k e t p l a c e " ( B r a n c h , 1995, p. 10).

W o m e n are n o l o n g e r an afterthought i n the sports product m a r k e t p l a c e . T h e y are

i n c r e a s i n g l y b e c o m i n g a focus o f brands and are b e i n g targeted i n their m a r k e t i n g

c a m p a i g n s . W o m e n are p r o v i n g that they s h o u l d r e c e i v e r e c o g n i t i o n as a distinct a n d


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p o w e r f u l segment i n the sport m a r k e t p l a c e ( B r a d i s h , L a t h r o p , & S e d g w i c k , 2 0 0 1 ;

B r a n c h , 1995; L o u g h , 1996; S h o h a m , R o s e , K r o p p , & K a h l e , 1997; Sparks & Westgate,

2 0 0 2 ; Sutton & W a t l i n g t o n , 1994). E s s e n t i a l l y , w o m e n are d e m a n d i n g to be m a r k e t e d

towards and b r a n d marketers are r e s p o n d i n g . T h e w o m e n ' s market i n general has

tremendous g r o w t h opportunities and w o m e n prove to be l o y a l c o n s u m e r s i f they are

i d e n t i f i e d w i t h b y w o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c products. W i t h the recent g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g a n d d e m a n d f o r w o m e n ' s s u r f wear, s u r f w e a r manufacturers are e x p a n d i n g their

product o f f e r i n g s to w o m e n . P i o n e e r s u r f brands h a v e responded to this g r o w i n g d e m a n d

b y d e v e l o p i n g j u n i o r lines as y o u n g w o m e n h a v e emerged as an important sub segment

for sport, sport-related products, a n d sport marketers ( S h o h a m et a l . , 1997).

5.2 Reflecting on Trends in Canadian Women's Surfing

T h e s i g n i f i c a n t trends that w e r e o c c u r r i n g i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and the sports

products market h e l p e d f o r m the basis f o r this study. A g o a l o f this research w a s to

contribute to an increased understanding o f the factors a f f e c t i n g the d e v e l o p m e n t o f

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a . It w a s apparent i n m y data analysis that several

variables have contributed to this g r o w t h seen i n C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g . These

factors s h o u l d contribute to an increased awareness o f the appeal o f s u r f i n g , a n d to the

uniqueness o f the C a n a d i a n scene i n c o m p a r i s o n to other g l o b a l s u r f i n g destinations.

There w e r e n u m e r o u s other intricacies that e m e r g e d i n this analysis, and further r e v i e w o f

t h e m shall p r o v i d e an increased understanding o f the i n t e r p l a y o f subcultures a n d

m a r k e t i n g i n C a n a d i a n c o n s u m e r culture, b y e x a m i n i n g the l i n k betw een l i f e s t y l e s ,

identity, a n d c o n s u m p t i o n .
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P r i o r to the m i d - 1 9 9 0 s , the sport o f s u r f i n g i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a attracted

r e l a t i v e l y f e w participants and o n l y a s m a l l percentage o f females w e r e a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d

i n the sport. S h i l l i n g (2003) i d e n t i f i e d the f o l l o w i n g factors as m a i n contributors to the

rebirth o f s u r f i n g i n T o f i n o : the i m p r o v e m e n t s i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y , the presence o f

parents i n the water, a s n o w b o a r d i n g and s k a t e b o a r d i n g crossover, and the presence o f

s u r f c l o t h i n g and accessories and the a d v e r t i s i n g that went w i t h them.

S o m e o f the i d e n t i f i a b l e changes o v e r t i m e i n the sport o f s u r f i n g i n B C are clear

as i d e n t i f i e d b y S h i l l i n g (2003):

the disappearance o f s u r f squat c o m m u n i t i e s ; the emergence o f elders i n the sport;

increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n b y w o m e n ; the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f T o f i n o f r o m a remote

resource-based t o w n to one that is v i s i t e d b y a m i l l i o n p e o p l e each year and w i t h

an e c o n o m y capable o f s u p p o r t i n g several s u r f shops, s u r f s c h o o l s and the annual

s u r f c o m p e t i t i o n s ; and the g r o w t h o f c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g i n B C . (p. 54)

S h i l l i n g (2003) d o c u m e n t e d the increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n b y w o m e n as an

i d e n t i f i a b l e change i n the sport o f s u r f i n g i n B C . T h i s study i d e n t i f i e d eight factors as

contributors to the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , s p e c i f i c a l l y i n B C . T h e s e factors i n c l u d e :

changes i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y , crossover appeal f r o m s k a t e b o a r d i n g and s n o w b o a r d i n g ,

C a l i f o r n i a ' s i n f l u e n c e , increased d e m a n d f o r w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f fashions, the

g r o w t h o f c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g i n B C , increased m e d i a exposure o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g , d e v e l o p m e n t o f C a n a d i a n s u r f businesses, and w o m e n ' s increased c o m f o r t w i t h

the identity o f ' b e i n g a surfer'. B o o t h (2001) i d e n t i f i e d the f o l l o w i n g as c o n d i t i o n s that

have contributed to a n e w s u r f i n g culture that is m o r e a c c e p t i n g o f w o m e n : the r e v i v a l o f

l o n g boards, the emergence o f n e w role m o d e l s , r e s o l u t i o n o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g style, a


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shift i n attitude r e g a r d i n g the m a r k e t i n g o f female s e x u a l i t y , a r e v i t a l i z e d w o m e n ' s tour,

and n e w products dedicated to female surfers. T h i s study i d e n t i f i e d variables that e x h i b i t

c o m m o n a l i t i e s w i t h other s u r f i n g literatures, but also demonstrates that these c o n d i t i o n s

are not u n i v e r s a l and that the C a n a d i a n scene has its o w n u n i q u e i n f l u e n c e s and

tendencies.

5.3 Reflecting on Surf Brand Marketing

P r e v i o u s research has r e c o g n i z e d s o m e o f the k e y trends that have been o c c u r r i n g

i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g s u c h as: increased g l o b a l r e c o g n i t i o n and acceptance o f w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g ( H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 ) , increased i m p o r t a n c e o f B C and C a n a d a i n g l o b a l

w o m e n ' s s u r f scene ( N i c k s o n , 2 0 0 0 ) , and an increased m e d i a p o r t r a y a l o f w o m e n ' s

s u r f i n g as an e m p o w e r i n g a c t i v i t y ( G o n z a l e z , 2 0 0 2 ; H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 ) . T h i s appears

to m a k e the rise o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g an o r g a n i c , surfer-led p h e n o m e n o n ; a l t h o u g h , the

research also suggests that: there is increased g r o w t h i n w o m e n and g i r l s s u r f w e a r

businesses ( G a b b a r d , 2 0 0 0 ; H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 ; K l a f f k e , 2 0 0 2 ; O s t r o w s k i , 1999) and

increased e c o n o m i c p r o s p e r i t y a m o n g s u r f w e a r manufacturers i n c o r p o r a t i n g f e m a l e lines

( B o o t h , 2 0 0 1 , H a m i l t o n et a l . , 2 0 0 2 , O s t r o w s k i , 1999). O n e o f the prevalent message

systems around w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is s u r f b r a n d m a r k e t i n g . It is here that e m p o w e r i n g

messages are e s p e c i a l l y v i s i b l e .

T h e s e p r e d o m i n a n t trends i n v i t e the q u e s t i o n - what is the role o f s u r f b r a n d

m a r k e t i n g i t s e l f i n the d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g culture? Is this a case o f co-

optation as seen i n skateboard culture, are the brands and surfers s h a r i n g m e a n i n g s ,

values and identities?


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T h i s lead to the d e v e l o p m e n t o f t w o p r i m a r y research objectives; 1) to e x a m i n e

h o w the m a r k e t i n g o f s u r f products affects s u r f lifestyles and product c o n s u m p t i o n , a n d

2) to describe h o w s u r f lifestyles and products i n turn b e c o m e d i f f u s e d to a larger

p o p u l a t i o n o f y o u n g w o m e n and girls.

The Role of Consumption in Relation to One's Identity

It has been d o c u m e n t e d that sport and leisure lifestyles are sites o f identity

f o r m a t i o n ( W h e a t o n , 2000) and that sport c o n s u m p t i o n enables one to express that

identity ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r , 1995). T h i s research supports the a s s u m p t i o n that,

'•The p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f different sources o f i d e n t i f i c a t i o n h a v e expanded, i n particular the

increased s i g n i f i c a n c e o f c o n s u m p t i o n practices s u c h as sport and leisure lifestyles i n the

c o m m u n i c a t i o n and maintenance o f self-identity f o r g r o w i n g segments o f the p o p u l a t i o n "

( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 . p. 255). T h e s e theories i n v i t e the question - h o w is s u r f w e a r

c o n s u m p t i o n l i n k e d to identity f o r m a t i o n i n female consumers?

T h r o u g h o u t m y research, it w a s evident that s u r f w e a r c o n s u m p t i o n is l i n k e d to

identity f o r m a t i o n i n different w a y s f o r surfers, and non-surfers w h o are active s u r f w e a r

consumers. In the past, w o m e n surfers f o u n d it i n c r e a s i n g l y d i f f i c u l t to f i n d w o m e n -

s p e c i f i c s u r f gear. S u r f b o a r d s , wetsuits, and other s u r f hard goods w e r e not b e i n g

designed w i t h the f e m a l e surfer i n m i n d . T h e s e w o m e n faced n u m e r o u s obstacles i n the

water, and b e i n g c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h their gear was one o f them. T h i s study demonstrated

that i n n o v a t i o n s i n wetsuit d e s i g n have contributed to the g r o w t h i n the n u m b e r o f people

s u r f i n g i n C a n a d i a n waters. T h e advancements m a d e i n wetsuit design are e n a b l i n g

w o m e n to get a proper f i t t i n g suit and feel m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e i n the water. T h i s c o m f o r t


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has been l i n k e d to o n e ' s eventual c o m m i t m e n t and identity as a surfer. C o n s e q u e n t l y ,

s u r f gear c o n s u m p t i o n is e n a b l i n g w o m e n to g a i n access to better products to suit their

needs as surfers.

A p r e d o m i n a n t theme amongst s u r f b r a n d representatives that emerged i n this

study was the i m p o r t a n c e o f b e i n g i n n o v a t i v e . In an i n c r e a s i n g l y c o m p e t i t i v e

marketplace, authentic s u r f w e a r c o m p a n i e s that r e m a i n c o m m i t t e d to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e

are k e e n o n creating t e c h n o l o g i c a l i m p r o v e m e n t i n their product o f f e r i n g s to w o m e n .

W h e a t o n and B e a l (2003) suggested that "part o f the rationale for participants to accept

products as legitimate w a s the b r a n d ' s attitude o f c o m m i t m e n t to the a c t i v i t y and

c o m m u n i t y " (p. 169). T h e y reveal that,

' B e i n g r e a l ' c a m e f r o m understanding the s u r f i n g aesthetic, w h i c h c o u l d o n l y

e v o l v e f r o m h a v i n g been involved w i t h the sport - ' d o i n g i t ' . T h u s , a l t h o u g h a l l

s u r f brands h a d b e c o m e b i g corporati ons , their f a v o u r e d s u r f i n g brands h a d a

'hard c o r e ' i m a g e that c a m e f r o m ' b e i n g r e a l ' , (p. 170)

T h i s p r o v i d e s e v i d e n c e that although surfers r e c o g n i z e i n n o v a t i o n s i n the s u r f products

m a r k e t ; they also want to c o n s u m e l e g i t i m a t e brands. B r a n d s that stay true to their core

roots w h i l e d e v e l o p i n g n e w product o f f e r i n g s w i l l enhance b r a n d awareness b y k e e p i n g

their b r a n d at the forefront o f the industry.

H o w e v e r , there is an apparent d i f f e r e n c e betw een s u r f wear c o n s u m p t i o n and

identity f o r m a t i o n amongst surfers and non-surfers. In m y research, surfers h i g h l i g h t e d

c o n f l i c t i n g v i e w p o i n t s r e g a r d i n g c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f products. It was suggested that

w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g was p r o p e l l e d b y the b r a n d manufacturers themselves. W o m e n surfers

tended to appreciate the f u n c t i o n a l d e v e l o p m e n t s t a k i n g place i n the s u r f products


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market. T h e y also expressed interest i n c o n s u m i n g s u r f c l o t h i n g ; h o w e v e r , they d i d not

l i n k their c l o t h i n g c o n s u m p t i o n to their subcultural identity. A n o t h e r c o m m o n theme is

that surfers want to purchase their s u r f gear and c l o t h i n g f r o m authentic s u r f retailers. By

restricting their c o n s u m p t i o n habits to core shops, w o m e n surfers are strengthening their

identity as surfers. S i m i l a r l y , W h e a t o n (2000) a c k n o w l e d g e s , " O n l y the ' n e o p h y t e '

w i n d s u r f e r s w o u l d m a k e the faux pas o f w e a r i n g ' i m i t a t i o n ' s u r f c l o t h i n g . . . s o l d i n h i g h

street stores or pseudo s u r f b r a n d s " (p. 266).

M e a n w h i l e , b r a n d marketers and retailers a c k n o w l e d g e d that y o u n g g i r l s and

w o m e n , w h o are non-surfers, u t i l i z e s u r f themed products as a means o f a d o p t i n g s u r f

style. T h e i m a g e that is marketed a l o n g w i t h these products is what an i n c r e a s i n g n u m b e r

o f consumers aspire to. T h e r e were several i d e n t i f i a b l e themes that appeal w o m e n to the

s u r f l i f e s t y l e , s u c h as, the f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h C a l i f o r n i a s u r f culture, the concept o f

youthfulness, the element o f c o o l n e s s , and an escape f r o m the everyday. T h i s supports

the n o t i o n that i n post-modernity w o r k roles are o f less s i g n i f i c a n c e i n p r o v i d i n g

i n d i v i d u a l s w i t h a sense o f identity than their a c t i v i t y as consumers ( B o c o c k , 1993).

These relayed images enable the s u r f l i f e s t y l e to be d i f f u s e d to a larger p o p u l a t i o n o f

y o u n g w o m e n and girls. T h e c o n s u m p t i o n o f s u r f products enables the c o n s u m e r to

i d e n t i f y w i t h the s u r f lifestyle. T h e o v e r a l l penetration o f the s u r f l i f e s t y l e i n C a n a d a is

s i g n i f i c a n t c o n s i d e r i n g o u r c l i m a t e , a c c e s s i b i l i t y to s u r f i n g , and p o p u l a t i o n as i d e n t i f i e d

i n this study.
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The Diffusion of Surf Lifestyles in the Mainstream

A n interesting point that c a m e f o r w a r d i n this study u p o n d i s c u s s i n g the d i f f u s i o n

o f s u r f lifestyles w a s that a retailer credited w o m e n surfers as p r o p e l l i n g the m a r k e t i n g o f

s u r f products. In m a n y different realms o f sport, w o m e n are g a i n i n g r e c o g n i t i o n a s .

valuable c o n s u m e r s i n the sports product marketplace. S u r f i n g seems to be another

avenue for m a r k e t i n g to w o m e n . W o m e n surfers c o m p r i s e a n i c h e market i n the sports

product marketplace. T h e eventual p r o l i f e r a t i o n o f s u r f l i f e s t y l e is fueled b y the m e d i a

and s u r f b r a n d marketers. O n c e these trends catch o n to the masses, s u r f style is d i f f u s e d

at an a s t o n i s h i n g rate and, consequently; s u r f brands r e s p o n d to these market changes.

T h i s w o u l d support evidence o f the p o p u l a r i t y o f the sport f u e l i n g the market. However,

w o m e n have b e c o m i n g i n c r e a s i n g l y c o m f o r t a b l e as surfers w i t h the d e v e l o p m e n t o f

w o m e n - s p e c i f i c products b y b r a n d marketers. T h e s e w o m e n are e n c o u r a g i n g other

w o m e n to get into the water, as m o r e w o m e n want to learn to s u r f m o r e s u r f s c h o o l s are

o p e n i n g to f u l f i l l this d e m a n d . S o it seems that there is an apparent rise out o f the

subculture itself; h o w e v e r , the o v e r a l l p e r m e a t i o n i s b e i n g fueled b y the b r a n d creators.

T h e presence o f m e d i a i n the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f i n g lifestyles w a s w i d e s p r e a d d u r i n g

m y data c o l l e c t i o n p e r i o d . M e d i a was w i d e s p r e a d i n p o p culture, r e a l i t y t e l e v i s i o n

i n t r o d u c e d ' B o a r d i n g H o u s e : N o r t h S h o r e ' and M T V ' s ' S u r f G i r l s ' . ' T h e O . C ' o n F o x

t e l e v i s i o n gained a l o y a l fan base amongst pre-teen and teens w h o are fascinated w i t h the

s u r f l i f e s t y l e ( G r i f f i n , 2 0 0 3 b ) . M e a n w h i l e , s u r f m e d i a continues to infiltrate us w i t h

M T V ' s ' L a g u n a B e a c h ' and the ' T e e n C h o i c e A w a r d s ' ; that u t i l i z e s u r f b o a r d s as

trophies f o r its a w a r d recipients. W h e a t o n (2000) suggests that the images portrayed b y

the m e d i a o f lifestyles sports:


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A f f i r m that i f y o u want to transform y o u r i d e n t i t y . . . y o u need to focus o n i m a g e ,

style, and f a s h i o n : ' M e d i a culture thus p r o v i d e s resources f o r i d e n t i t y and n e w

roles for identity i n w h i c h l o o k , style, and i m a g e replaces s u c h things as action

and c o m m i t m e n t as constitutive o f identity, o f w h o one i s ' , (p. 269)

W h e a t o n and B e a l (2003) i n the c o m p a r i s o n o f w i n d s u r f i n g and s k a t e b o a r d i n g

cultures suggest that " s p e c i a l i s t niche m e d i a p l a y a central role i n the creation and

e v o l u t i o n o f these c u l t u r e s " (p. 157). F u r t h e r m o r e , they reveal that " a c a d e m i c s have

tended to c r i t i c a l l y ' p o s i t i o n m e d i a as incorporating or co-opting rather than a i d i n g i n the

f o r m a t i o n o f s u b c u l t u r e s ' " (p. 157). T h e y d i s c e r n that " s u b c u l t u r a l i s t s are not s i m p l y

' v i c t i m s ' o f c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n , but shape and 're-shape' the i m a g e and m e a n i n g s

circulated b the m e d i a " (p. 158). T h e r e f o r e , it can be reasoned that w o m e n surfers are

part o f the c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n process. T h i s research d o c u m e n t e d that w o m e n surfers

garnered the attention o f l o c a l m e d i a , the messages they transmit to the m e d i a ; i n essence,

p r o v i d e k n o w l e d g e o f the subcultural m e a n i n g .

H o w e v e r , it can be reasoned that s u b c u l t u r a l m e a n i n g s undergo co-optation into

the larger f a s h i o n system ( H e b d i g e , 1979), so that the r e s u l t i n g products are acceptable to

larger segments o f m a i n s t r e a m c o n s u m e r s ( K a t e s , 1998). S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r

(1995) caution that,

T h e m a r k e t i n g consequence o f this danger is that b r a n d management is faced w i t h

a veritable tightrope w a l k betw een the c o n f l i c t i n g needs o f t w o disparate but

e q u a l l y important groups o f c o n s u m e r s : those w h o g i v e the p r o d u c t its m y s t i q u e

and those w h o g i v e the c o m p a n y its p r o f i t a b i l i t y , (p. 59)


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It w a s suggested w i d e l y i n this study that the h a r d g o o d s business is a lost leader.

There is no real profit g a i n i n s u r f h a r d g o o d s ; h o w e v e r , the g a i n is i n representation and

a p p e a l i n g to that authentic group o f c o n s u m e r s . Retailers and b r a n d marketers are

r e s p o n d i n g to the recent market changes and the p r o l i f e r a t i o n o f the s u r f l i f e s t y l e .

H o w e v e r , those that w i l l retain a diverse c u s t o m e r base are those that stay true to the core

o f the s u r f l i f e s t y l e ; w h i l s t , c a p i t a l i z i n g o n the masses.

T h r o u g h c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f m y m a i n research questions and the objectives o f this

study, four hypotheses were f o r m e d for this research. E a c h hypothesis w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d

and its v i a b i l i t y i n accordance w i t h the v i e w points o f m y study w i l l be d i s c u s s e d : (a)

S u r f w e a r c o n s u m p t i o n is an integral part o f a surfer's l i f e s t y l e and i d e n t i t y ; (b) S u r f

brands have expanded their lines to reach surfers, but also to reach f e m a l e teens and pre-

teens; (c) F e m a l e teens and pre-teens use s u r f w e a r to h e l p construct their identities; and

(d) T h e net effect o f these t w o trends is an increase i n c o n s u m e r interest i n s u r f w e a r and

i n the s u r f brands market.

T h e detailed analysis o f m y results demonstrated that w o m e n surfers w e r e g a i n i n g

r e c o g n i t i o n i n the s u r f products market and this i n turn has h a d a p o s i t i v e i n f l u e n c e o n

their identity as surfers. A p o s i t i v e first experience i n the water was d i r e c t l y l i n k e d to

o n e ' s l i k e l i n e s s to continue s u r f i n g . F u r t h e r m o r e , i n order to participate i n the sport o f

s u r f i n g one must c o n s u m e products. T h e s e f i n d i n g s and numerous other variables

d o c u m e n t e d i n this study prove that s u r f w e a r c o n s u m p t i o n is an integral part o f a

surfer's l i f e s t y l e and identity.

W i t h the increased representation o f w o m e n i n the water, b r a n d marketers are

e x p a n d i n g their lines to w o m e n surfers. A s w o m e n b e c o m e r e c o g n i z e d as an important


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market segment and evidence supports their i n f l u e n c e as consumers i n the sports-product

marketplace, brands are reacting to these demands b y creating o r e x p a n d i n g w o m e n ' s

lines. M e a n w h i l e , a g r o w i n g trend is the e m e r g i n g i n f l u e n c e o f y o u n g w o m e n a n d girls

i n the sports product marketplace. Y o u n g w o m e n have b e c o m e i n c r e a s i n g l y attracted to

the s u r f l i f e s t y l e and s u r f w e a r industry. A s a result, s u r f brands have e x p a n d e d their

lines to reach surfers, but also to reach f e m a l e teens a n d pre-teens.

T h e l i n k between c o n s u m p t i o n , lifestyles, a n d identity has been a n a l y z e d a n d it is

supported that people c o n s u m e products i n order to create a sense o f self-identity. Young

girls create a n d express their identities t h r o u g h c o n s u m p t i o n and l i f e s t y l e c h o i c e s . T h i s

supports the n o t i o n that female teens and pre-teens use s u r f w e a r to help construct their

identities.

N u m e r o u s e x p a n s i o n s are o c c u r r i n g i n the s u r f products market s u c h as the

d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n ' s s u r f stores, the e x p a n s i o n o f s u r f lines to increase their product

offerings to w o m e n , and the creation o f n e w lines. M e a n w h i l e , g l o b a l l y teens are

b e c o m i n g fascinated w i t h the s u r f lifestyle a n d are c o n s u m i n g s u r f fashions to b e c o m e a

part o f it. T h e net result o f these t w o trends is a n increase i n c o n s u m e r interest i n the s u r f

brands market. A l l f o u r hypotheses f o r m y research are accepted and h a v e been

substantiated b y the evidence s h o w n i n this study.

5.4 Reflecting on Subcultural Theory

H o w to theorize this? U s u a l w a y to understand rise o f a non-traditional sport is i n

term o f sporting subculture, (e.g.) w o r k done o n skateboarding and s n o w b o a r d i n g .

H o w e v e r , i n the s o c i o l o g i c a l research the term subculture has been used i n i n c r e a s i n g l y


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contradictory w a y s r e s u l t i n g i n conceptual a m b i g u i t y ( L e o n a r d II, 1991). Sport

ethnographies o n subcultures h a v e exaggerated cultural resistance and h a v e p l a c e d sport

subcultures as o p p o s i t i o n a l to parent culture. Furthermore the term subculture is often

construed as s y n o n y m o u s w i t h deviance (Crosset & B e a l , 1997).

A g o a l o f this research was to theorize this since it was unclear as to h o w w e l l the

term subculture i t s e l f describes the s u r f scene w h e r e product c o n s u m p t i o n is a major part

o f the a c t i v i t y and l i f e s t y l e identity. A s a result, I chose S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r ' s

(1995) ethnographic w o r k o n H a r l e y - D a v i d s o n m o t o r c y c l e o w n e r s as a potential concept

to see i f it c o u l d be a p p l i e d or c o u l d h e l p e x p l a i n the cultural p r o d u c t i o n and

c o n s u m p t i o n tensions I was seeing i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g .

A c c o r d i n g to S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) a ' s u b c u l t u r e o f c o n s u m p t i o n '

is, " A d i s t i n c t i v e subgroup o f society that self-selects o n the basis o f a shared

c o m m i t m e n t to a particular product class, b r a n d , o r c o n s u m p t i o n a c t i v i t y " (p. 43). Other

characteristics i n c l u d e an i d e n t i f i a b l e , h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l structure; a u n i q u e ethos, or set

o f shared b e l i e f s and v a l u e s ; and u n i q u e j a r g o n s , rituals, and m o d e s o f s y m b o l i c

e x p r e s s i o n (p. 43).

U n d e r a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n ; " p e o p l e i d e n t i f y w i t h certain objects or

c o n s u m p t i o n activities and, t h r o u g h those objects or activities, i d e n t i f y w i t h other

p e o p l e " (p. 48). T h r o u g h conversations w i t h f e m a l e surfers it was suggested that they

i d e n t i f y w i t h other surfers t h r o u g h their c o m m i t m e n t to the sport o f s u r f i n g . Surfers are

active c o n s u m e r s ; h o w e v e r , their c o n s u m p t i o n activities do not contribute to group

c o h e s i o n . S i m i l a r l y , W h e a t o n (2000) i n her analysis o f the w i n d s u r f i n g subculture

d o c u m e n t e d that, " D e s p i t e the centrality o f w i n d s u r f i n g equipment to the activity, and the


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expenditure required to get i n v o l v e d i n the sport, m e m b e r s c o u l d n ' t b u y their w a y into

the core o f the s u b c u l t u r e " (p. 263). Furthermore, surfers c o n s u m e brands but appear to

be less l o y a l to s p e c i f i c brand names than to the product category alone. T h e s u r f i n g

l i f e s t y l e does i n f l u e n c e ones c o n s u m p t i o n habits i n other product categories f o r core

female surfers as d o c u m e n t e d i n this study.

A n i d e n t i f i a b l e , h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l structure is apparent to s o m e degree i n the

sport o f s u r f i n g . H o w e v e r , o n e ' s status is based o n their c o m m i t m e n t to the sport and

their s u r f i n g a b i l i t y as o p p o s e d to o n e ' s surfboard or wetsuit. S i m i l a r l y , W h e a t o n (2000)

suggests that, " W i n d s u r f i n g prowess was an essential element o f subcultural status.

Status i n the w i n d s u r f i n g culture was a c h i e v e d p r i m a r i l y b y b e i n g a g o o d w i n d s u r f e r -

the better the w i n d s u r f e r , the h i g h e r the s u b c u l t u r a l status" (p. 2 5 9 ) . She further states

that, " I n a d d i t i o n to s k i l l and attitude, c o m m i t m e n t to the a c t i v i t y was central to attaining

subcultural status" (p. 260). E v e r y b o a r d has s u c h a unique feel to it, d e p e n d i n g o n the

style a surfer has, his/her p h y s i c a l d i m e n s i o n s , and d e p e n d i n g o n the s u r f c o n d i t i o n s ; w i l l

i n f l u e n c e w h i c h b o a r d he/she m a y ride. O n e s p e c i f i c b o a r d or b r a n d is not suited for a l l

surfers. T h e water is the best i n d i c a t o r o f o n e ' s s u r f i n g a b i l i t y and that is essentially

where o n e ' s i d e n t i t y can be revealed as h i g h l i g h t e d i n the i n t e r v i e w s .

C e r t a i n tendencies or rituals are c o m m o n i n the s u r f culture; h o w e v e r , they are not

u n i f o r m across groups. S e v e r a l factors w o u l d i n f l u e n c e w h i c h rituals one m a y subscribe

to such as: preferred s u r f break, t i m e , e q u i p m e n t , and whether one was s u r f i n g alone or i n

a group setting. O n e can have several consistencies i n their personal routine but that

routine can be o f f set b y the presence o f other surfers. T h e r e f o r e , rituals are a part o f the

s u r f culture but are not important i n d e s i g n a t i n g a w o m e n ' s place i n that culture. A n


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ethos that is shared b y the s u r f culture i n T o f i n o is that it is m o r e w e l c o m i n g o f w o m e n

and surfers i n general. B e a c h break enables m a n y surfers to get w a v e s ; d e p e n d i n g o n

their l e v e l o f a b i l i t y w i l l determine w h e r e they go to get those w a v e s . A b l e n d o f s u r f i n g

levels is c o m m o n i n the waters s u r r o u n d i n g T o f i n o . It is not u n c o m m o n to see groups o f

beginners i n lessons and then to l o o k further out and see distant figures i n the l i n e up.

These m o r e a c c o m p l i s h e d surfers rarely cross .with i n e x p e r i e n c e d surfers as ones a b i l i t y

separates th e m. H o w e v e r , e x p e r i e n c e d surfers often encourage n e w c o m e r s i n the water

p r o v i d i n g the rules are k n o w n to a l l . T h e r e l a x e d nature o f C a n a d i a n s and n o n -

c o m p e t i t i v e attitude w i t h s u r f i n g is all part o f our u n i q u e experience. T h e s u r f culture

appeals to i n d i v i d u a l s i n h i g h l y unique w a y s ; consequently, a d o m i n a n t v a l u e system w a s

not evident throughout this study. S u r f i n g p r o v i d e s its participants w i t h a u n i q u e sense o f

gratification, t h r i l l , or experience. T h e r e m a y be c o m m o n a l i t i e s between surfers but there

is not one c o m m o n v a l u e that is supported o v e r another. T h e y are united i n that their

passion for s u r f i n g is the same.

A s i m i l a r characteristic that e v o l v e d i n this study is the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f s e l f

(deepening o f c o m m i t m e n t ) . S c h o u t e n and M c A l e x a n d e r (1995) e m p h a s i z e that surfers

" u n d e r g o an e v o l u t i o n o f m o t i v e s and a d e e p e n i n g o f c o m m i t m e n t as they b e c o m e m o r e

i n v o l v e d i n the s u b c u l t u r e " (p. 55). T h i s study supported this d e e p e n i n g o f c o m m i t m e n t

that extends as s u r f i n g b e c o m e s part o f ones l i f e s t y l e . H o w e v e r , the l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t

is v a r i e d across surfers and is dependent o n other l i f e s t y l e influences. A standard l e v e l o f

c o m m i t m e n t cannot be d e t e r m i n e d as each surfer has c o n f l i c t i n g l i f e roles and levels o f

attachment for the sport. H o w e v e r , to s o m e degree a certain l e v e l o f c o m m i t m e n t is

r e q u i r e d i n order to be a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d i n the sport. T h i s can i n v o l v e s u r f i n g d a i l y ,


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w e e k l y , b i - m o n t h l y , m o n t h l y , or semi-annually d e p e n d i n g o n the i m p o r t a n c e o f the

s u r f i n g l i f e s t y l e i n accordance w i t h e v e r y t h i n g else. T h o s e w h o integrate s u r f i n g into

their w h o l e l i f e s t y l e , b y m o v i n g out to places l i k e T o f i n o are at the highest end o f the

c o m m i t m e n t spectrum.

R e c o g n i z i n g the d i f f u s i o n process, this study p r o v i d e d further e v i d e n c e o f

" s u b c u l t u r a l l y created styles m a y be shared or imitated b y a m u c h larger audience or

market peripheral to the core subculture and m a y even b e c o m e imitated and

c o m m e r c i a l i z e d for mass c o n s u m p t i o n " ( S c h o u t e n & M c A l e x a n d e r , 1995, p. 43).

H o w e v e r , their research also suggests that "hard-core or high-status m e m b e r s o f a c h i e v e d

subcultures f u n c t i o n as o p i n i o n l e a d e r s " (p. 43) as subcultural styles are d i f f u s e d to a

broader group o f consumers. O u r s u r f culture is u n i q u e i n C a n a d a i n that o u r s u r f

u n i f o r m is a wetsuit. T h i s item is s o m e t h i n g f u n c t i o n a l and w i l l not be c o m m e r c i a l i z e d

for m a i n s t r e a m c o n s u m e r s . So i n C a n a d a , it appears that these subcultural styles arise out

o f the m e d i a , and b y marketers, and not so m u c h b y this r e l a t i v e l y s m a l l isolated group o f

surfers. T h e d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f styles is p r o f o u n d l y l i n k e d to C a l i f o r n i a as supported b y

this thesis. H o w e v e r , B o o t h (2001) does illustrate a point that is w o r t h y o f m e n t i o n i n g ,

"Just as m a n y n o n - r u n n i n g w o m e n w e a r sport bras, so boardshorts are p o p u l a r items o f

fashionable street-wear a m o n g girls and y o u n g w o m e n w h o d o n ' t i d e n t i f y w i t h s u r f i n g

culture or aspire to s u r f (p. 15). T h i s study supports this n o t i o n ; h o w e v e r , there is also

i n c r e a s i n g e v i d e n c e o f the d i f f u s i o n o f s u r f l i f e s t y l e into the m a i n s t r e a m .

T h e net result, presently w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g c o m b i n e s features o f a subculture o f

c o n s u m p t i o n and subcultural d e v e l o p m e n t and m a y best be thought o f as a ' c o m m o d i t y -

orientated s u b c u l t u r e ' ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 , p. 261) that is d r i v e n both b y a d e v e l o p i n g


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o r g a n i c w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g subculture (the hard-cores) and b y the market activities (product

d e v e l o p m e n t , w o m e n ' s w e a r b r a n d i n g , w o m e n ' s - s p e c i f i c retailing) o f the m a j o r s u r f

brands. S u r f i n g is a ' c o m m o d i t y - o r i e n t a t e d s u b c u l t u r e ' ( W h e a t o n , 2000) i n that surfers

need to c o n s u m e products to participate i n the sport. T h e s e c o n s u m p t i o n patterns are a

means for w o m e n surfers to i d e n t i f y w i t h other surfers. > It is not u n c o m m o n for surfers to

congregate together and discuss equipment and s u r f wear. S o m e t i m e s it is f o r

i n f o r m a t i o n a l purposes, other times f o r c o n v e r s a t i o n a l purposes betw een t w o surfers w h o

have s o m e t h i n g i n c o m m o n , the fact that they surf. In wetsuit d e s i g n alone, certain

brands have better fits and designs i n their o f f e r i n g s to w o m e n . W o m e n surfers are aware

o f the products that are superior to their needs as they have tried these various

technologies. T h e y are also aware o f w h i c h brands are advanced i n their p r o d u c t

offerings o f w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r t h r o u g h their c o n s u m p t i o n habits. T h e s e products m a y

contribute to a better experience i n the water but are no w a y i n d i c a t i v e o f o n e ' s l e v e l o f

prowess i n the s u r f culture.

T h e issue o f authenticity is often d o c u m e n t e d i n subcultural research o f l i f e s t y l e

sport participants. W h e a t o n and B e a l (2003) reveal that " A u t h e n t i c i t y , then is an

a c c u m u l a t e d s o c i a l a c h i e v e m e n t ' , seen as w h a t constitutes ' r e a l ' or genuine m e m b e r s h i p "

(p. 159). In this study authenticity was i d e n t i f i e d b y ones inner c o n n e c t i o n to s u r f i n g and

ones l e v e l o f k n o w l e d g e and p a s s i o n f o r the sport. A u t h e n t i c i t y was important

irregardless o f ones personal a f f i l i a t i o n w i t h s u r f i n g or p o s i t i o n i n the s u r f products

industry. T h i s concept d e f i e d p o s i t i o n i n g and seemed to be an understood v a r i a b l e i n the

s u r f products/retail industry. F u r t h e r m o r e , the c o n s u m p t i o n o f the right products b y core

participants is not a means o f g a i n i n g r e c o g n i t i o n as an authentic participant.


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The consumption o f surf products does contribute to their inner sense o f identity

but does not influence ones status in the subculture. The expansion o f product offerings

to women and proper wetsuit fit is contributing to more positive experiences in the water.

These consumption practices enable one to surf; however, one's commitment to the sport

is what differentiates ones placement in the subculture. This commitment to the surf

lifestyle extends to be an organizing principle in the maintenance and expression o f self-

identity.

Surfing i n Canada is unique in the sense that crossing over into the subculture

involves getting into the water. If you feel like a surfer you are a surfer. The hierarchy

isn't so defined. A s one progresses as a surfer, one w i l l demonstrate more skill and more

ocean knowledge and perhaps w i l l maintain some level o f status in her own group o f

surfers. Outside o f that central group that you associate with, there are no pre-defined

barriers or boundaries. A s one becomes more o f a proficient surfer, he or she may

become respected across groups o f surfers. She may become known and be

acknowledged as an amazing surfer. However, while she progresses she still is an

authentic participant as long as she surfs. The consumption o f surf products is not going

to move her any quicker through the subculture itself.

A New Gender Order in Surfing and the Surf Products Marketplace

New lifestyle practices that are outside the norm o f traditional educational

sporting activities have gained the attention o f women who seek involvement in high-risk

individualized activity. Rinehart (2005) acknowledges that lifestyle or extreme sports are

more appealing to women in that:


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O p p o r t u n i t i e s and access for w o m e n m a y be greater i n extreme sports because the

sports are m o s t l y i n d i v i d u a l , because they are r e l a t i v e l y n e w and thus m o r e l i a b l e

to s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n , and because the fundamental source o f c o m p a r i s o n betw een

participants is w i l l i n g n e s s to r i s k . (p. 240)

W o m e n have b e c o m e i n c r e a s i n g l y i n v o l v e d i n l i f e s t y l e sports and have e s p e c i a l l y

been a d o m i n a n t force i n s n o w b o a r d i n g . M o r e recently, w o m e n are i n c r e a s i n g l y b e i n g

d r a w n to s u r f i n g . B o o t h (2001) states " s e l e c t e d evidence suggests the p o s s i b i l i t y o f a

n e w gender order i n s u r f i n g " (p. 17). It is suggested that i n C a n a d a females are m o r e

accepted i n the water and there is less o f a fraternal structure. Further d e v e l o p m e n t s that

p r o v i d e further e v i d e n c e that s u r f i n g is b e c o m i n g m o r e general neutral are changes i n

m e d i a representation o f female surfers, w o m e n ' s s p e c i f i c m e d i a (print and electronic),

and w o m e n ' s - o r i e n t e d brands and products. T h i s study i d e n t i f i e d that the changes m a d e

i n wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y have contributed to the g r o w t h seen i n C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g .

C a n a d i a n w o m e n w e r e depicted d i f f e r e n t l y and not i n a s e x u a l m a n n e r throughout this

study. T h e wetsuit m a y also be c o n t r i b u t i n g to a n e w gender order i n that the focus

remains o n s u r f i n g a b i l i t y . M e d i a d e p i c t i o n s o f o u r l o c a l culture often h i g h l i g h t the

uniqueness o f o u r s u r f scene i n C a n a d a , a c k n o w l e d g i n g h o w c o l d the water is and the

heartiness o f o u r l o c a l surfers. T h e s e d e p i c t i o n s are p r e d o m i n a n t l y free o f gender bias

and introduce a n e w era i n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i n w h i c h w o m e n w i l l g a i n c r e d i b i l i t y i n the

water and are w e l c o m e d i n the water.

A s females are i n c r e a s i n g l y r e c o g n i z e d i n the sport m a r k e t p l a c e , m o r e

opportunities are a v a i l a b l e to w o m e n as b u y e r s , marketers, retailers, b r a n d

representatives, and team managers. W o m e n are b r e a k i n g the m o l d i n the sport


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marketplace,challenging stereotypical roles, and are changing the face of this

traditionally male-dominated field. Women are persevering in the pro scene and many

have made in roads and gained respect in the big wave scene, which have been deemed 'a

testosterone pit' by many professional women surfers. Meanwhile, female surfers are

turning into savvy entrepreneurs worldwide with the development of surf schools and

surf businesses. The sacrifices of female surfers who first experienced the sport when it

wasn't as accepting to women are paving the way for the next generation. It is apparent

that not only in surfing is there a changed gender order, but other developments indicate

increased acceptance of women as professionals and entrepreneurs.


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CHAPTER VI - INSIDER ROLE

The methodology for this study included interviewing women surfers, surf brand

retailers, and Canadian surf brand representatives. By interacting with these three groups

I was able to gain an understanding of the women's surf scene and the surf wear industry

from three interrelated yet unique perspectives. Upon completion of my interviews, two

personal experiences enabled me to gain a further understanding of women's surfing and

the surf brand industry through my experiences in retail and as an active participant.

Serendipitously, a retailer that I had interviewed for my study approached me regarding

potential employment at the retail level in a core skate snow surf store that catered to both

male and female customers. Following myfirstexposure to Canadian surfing at a

women's specific surf camp I began my employment in retail. These combined

experiences gave me increased exposure to the culture, the participants, and the

mainstream consumers. Since I had already completed my interviews these

developments helped enhance my study without hindering its original design.

Throughout the course of my employment I gained insider knowledge in the surf

industry and eventually this led to buying product for the women's section of the store.

As a women's soft goods buyer, I oversaw the purchases for the women's store. This

gave me another window into the surf products market and this experience further

highlighted the cyclic nature of the industry where consumer feedback and consumer

brand awareness are at the forefront of the design process. This industry is highly

interdependent and there is an apparent cycle of communication between consumers,

retailers, surf brand representatives, and surfers themselves. The surf brand

representatives, in effect, utilize the buyers for consumer feedback. The buyers are not
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only responsible for the purchase and display o f the product, but they essentially are the

ones selling the product in the store and keeping track o f demographics, demand, and

profitability o f brands. A relationship between the surf brand representatives and buyers

is mutually beneficial to the brand and to the store. The Canadian surf brand

representatives, in turn, report their findings to the surf brand manufacturers and these

considerations are often reflected in the design process.

A s identified in my research, the idea o f authenticity seems to be a growing

concern in the surf industry. H o w can one capitalize on the explosion o f surf culture and

target the masses without alienating those that are core to the sport? A few predominant

trends were visible in my experiences that support the desire o f companies to maintain an

authentic image. Brands often utilize real surfers in their ad campaigns, and stay true to

their surf roots and the brands image. Although, each brand is influenced by current

fashion trends, their image remains intact. Meanwhile, retailers carry authentic surf

brands and hire employees that are avid lifestyle sport enthusiasts. It seems that in order

to maintain authenticity, it has to be developed at each level. Surfers seemed more

critical o f brands that are not core surf brands. The mainstream consumer who isn't as

educated is content wearing any surf brand. However, there is also evidence o f brand

loyalty amongst the more educated consumers, and this extends to those who are not

active participants in the sport but who support the brand's image. This loyalty is

increasingly common amongst pre-teens and teens and often fluctuates seasonally for

female consumers based on the current designs and trends. The mature surf participant is

more interested in supporting local brands or brands that have a deep connection to

surfing. Core women surfers repeatedly purchased their surf products and surf fashions
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f r o m m y place o f e m p l o y m e n t . It was important to them that w e h a d a large selection o f

w o m e n ' s wetsuits, s u r f accessories, and s u r f b o a r d s . Furthermore, core stores u s u a l l y

have a fleet o f wetsuit rentals that enable the retailer to promote the sport o f s u r f i n g to

c o n s u m e r s i n an i n e x p e n s i v e manner. B y d e v e l o p i n g a relationship w i t h a potential

surfer, a retailer is s e c u r i n g a sale w i t h that c o n s u m e r , once he/she gets the s u r f stoke and

e v e n t u a l l y invests i n s u r f products.

In an i n c r e a s i n g l y saturated m a r k e t p l a c e it has b e c o m e m o r e important for

retailers to answer the q u e s t i o n , ' W h a t is g o i n g to m a k e us stand o u t ' ? Y o u have to

c o n s c i o u s l y m a k e an effort to h a v e an i m a g e f o r y o u r store and whether it is t h r o u g h

variety, product, or customer service y o u have to be able to answer what is g o i n g to m a k e

y o u different f r o m s o m e b o d y else. T h e store's identity and i m a g e m u s t relate to the

c o n s u m e r base they desire to attract.

M y experience as an active participant i n the industry has lead to an increased

understanding o f the f e m a l e c o n s u m e r and k n o w l e d g e o f market trends. T h e s e

experiences support the increased representation o f w o m e n i n s u r f i n g and i n the s u r f

industry. T h e s u r f brands representatives that I c a m e i n contact w i t h i n m y p o s i t i o n w e r e

all p r e d o m i n a n t l y female. Interestingly, the t w o m a l e s u r f brand representatives

i n t e r v i e w e d f o r m y study h a v e since been r e p l a c e d b y females. T h i s supports the

i m p o r t a n c e o f h a v i n g females interact w i t h females i n regards to b u y i n g d e c i s i o n s .

F u r t h e r m o r e , a g r o w t h i n the n u m b e r o f female e m p l o y e e s was evident as was their

i m p o r t a n c e i n d e a l i n g w i t h f e m a l e customers. T h e importance o f e m p l o y i n g active

participants was further supported b y m y o w n experiences as a s u r f participant. I can

attest that w o m e n - s p e c i f i c wetsuits are h i g h l y l i n k e d to one's experience i n the water.


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B e i n g w a r m and c o m f o r t a b l e i n the water has enabled m e to focus o n m y s u r f i n g and to

stay i n the water f o r extended periods o f time. C o r e retailers educate their e m p l o y e e s o n

proper wetsuit fit and available products so that the c o n s u m e r w i l l be s u p p l i e d w i t h

available i n f o r m a t i o n i n order to m a k e a w e l l - i n f o r m e d purchase d e c i s i o n .

T h e crossover o f the b o a r d sport i n d u s t r y was important to m y place o f

e m p l o y m e n t . O n e p o o r w i n t e r season meant the sale o f m o r e s u r f b o a r d s and w i n t e r

wetsuits than s n o w b o a r d s . H o w e v e r , the appearance o f s n o w caused s o m e surfers to

gravitate towards the m o u n t a i n s . M e a n w h i l e , m a n y changes are o c c u r r i n g i n regards to

product o f f e r i n g s i n the s u r f skate s n o w industry. W o m e n are d e m a n d i n g m o r e technical

outerwear i n the s n o w industry. C o n s u m e r s are b e c o m i n g m o r e educated and are

d e m a n d i n g m o r e w a t e r p r o o f i n g , lighter fabrics, and m o r e features. T h e s u r f skate s n o w

market is b e c o m i n g m o r e fashion-oriented w i t h less v i s i b l e l o g o s , and m o r e c o l o r ,

e m b e l l i s h m e n t s , and patterns. Fits are b e c o m i n g m o r e tailored. T h e b o a r d sport i n d u s t r y

is b o r r o w i n g f r o m h i g h f a s h i o n trends and a d d i n g their o w n u n i q u e twist to t h e m . The

board sports market is no longer e x c l u s i v e to b o a r d sport enthusiasts, and m a n y

snowboarders are m o v i n g a w a y f r o m l o o s e fits and the gangster i m a g e to m o r e o f an

o v e r a l l stream-lined l o o k . T h e s e l o o k s are just as p o p u l a r i n urban areas as they are o n

the m o u n t a i n s . M e a n w h i l e , s u r f brands are staying connected to the b e a c h lifestyle w h i l e

staying o n top o f market changes. Skate brands are e x p l o d i n g their product offerings to

w o m e n . T h e y are r e a l l y c h a n g i n g the l o o k and image o f skateboarding. Skate brands are

b e c o m i n g m o r e p o p u l a r amongst females and skateboarding is i n c r e a s i n g its v i s i b i l i t y

amongst females.
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In order to m a i n t a i n market share i n an i n c r e a s i n g l y cluttered m a r k e t p l a c e , s u r f

brands are creating a clear and d e f i n e d i m a g e u n i q u e a m o n g their competitors. T h e

brands marketers i n t e r v i e w e d i n this study w e r e all aware o f their o w n and their

competitors strengths and weaknesses and their standing i n the sport marketplace.

T h r o u g h the creation o f a b r a n d i m a g e , brands g a i n c r e d i b i l i t y i n a product category and

this i m a g e is further strengthened b y m a r k e t i n g , the retail e n v i r o n m e n t , the c o n s u m e r ,

and t h r o u g h m e d i a . A c o m m o n theme i n the interviews was the i m p o r t a n c e o f creating

an i m a g e consistent w i t h the i d e n t i t y o f the brand. T h e i m p o r t a n c e o f b e i n g y o u t h d r i v e n ,

a leader i n product research and d e v e l o p m e n t , and h a v i n g a w o r l d class team to support

and p r o m o t e the b r a n d w e r e i d e n t i f i e d as k e y factors i n m a i n t a i n i n g a consistent b r a n d

image.

B r a n d awareness is further a c h i e v e d b y s u r f brands that sponsor s u r f c a m p s ,

o r g a n i z e s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n s , and b e c o m e i n v o l v e d i n grass roots l e v e l p r o g r a m s

thereby strengthening the i m a g e o f the b r a n d . Q u i k s i l v e r b e c a m e a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d i n o u r

l o c a l s u r f scene b y s p o n s o r i n g the s u m m e r s u r f j a m i n T o f i n o . M o r e recently, other

brands have started to o r g a n i z e surf, skate, and s n o w c o m p e t i t i o n s l o c a l l y . Q u i k s i l v e r is

no l o n g e r the sole supporter o f l o c a l s u r f c o m p e t i t i o n s . A s one c a n expect, other brands

have o r g a n i z e d events here l o c a l l y i n the past f e w years.

A l t h o u g h this thesis illustrated that there are f e w opportunities for C a n a d i a n

w o m e n surfers, g l o b a l l y w o m e n are m a k i n g s o m e advances. A t the b r a n d l e v e l , s u r f

brands have p o s i t i v e l y i n f l u e n c e d the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g b y p r o v i d i n g

sponsorships and increased opportunities for female surfers. B r a n d marketers are

c o m m i t t e d to fostering f e m a l e i n v o l v e m e n t i n action sports as e x e m p l i f i e d i n their


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m a r k e t i n g techniques and product o f f e r i n g s . B y p r o v i d i n g f e m a l e athletes w i t h free

product, contest entrance m o n e y , s u p p o r t i n g travel costs, and/or o r g a n i z i n g w o m e n ' s

contests the needs o f female surfers are i n c r e a s i n g l y b e i n g met and a l l o w i n g w o m e n to

progress i n the sport.

T h e interaction b e tw e e n team riders and b r a n d marketers has been integral to the

design o f c l o t h i n g and accessories. Innovations i n product d e v e l o p m e n t have enabled

w o m e n surfers to be m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e i n the water b y h a v i n g f u n c t i o n a l , f a s h i o n a b l e ,

q u a l i t y apparel to w e a r w h i l e p r a c t i c i n g the sport. Other brands have u t i l i z e d an athletes'

name as the m o d e l name for increased b r a n d strength i n the product category. This

practice is c o m m o n i n skate shoe lines and w i t h i n the s n o w b o a r d industry. Pro m o d e l s

are p a r t i c u l a r l y p o p u l a r amongst m a l e y o u t h w h o i d e n t i f y the product as b e i n g superior,

to others based o n the athlete's representation.

A n o t h e r c o m m o n occurrence i n the s u r f i n d u s t r y is u t i l i z i n g sponsored athletes as

m o d e l s i n a d v e r t i s i n g c a m p a i g n s , e.g. print ads. T h e s u r f i n d u s t r y demands authenticity

and an athlete can generate m o r e h y p e i n a product category i n c o m p a r i s o n to a f a s h i o n

m o d e l . F e m a l e surfers are i n c r e a s i n g l y portrayed i n print ads i n m a g a z i n e s and o n h a n g

tags attached to s u r f c l o t h i n g . M o r e f e m a l e surfers are b e i n g portrayed i n a c t i o n shots.

M a n y brands are also u t i l i z i n g s u r f i n g m e d i a to expose their sponsored athletes and

p r o m o t e the b r a n d . M o r e w o m e n ' s - o n l y s u r f m o v i e s are b e i n g released and w o m e n are

g a i n i n g m o r e exposure i n skate and s n o w v i d e o s that p r e d o m i n a n t l y feature m a l e

athletes.
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CHAPTER VII - CONCLUSIONS

T h i s n e w era o f s u r f i n g has changed the perception o f w o m e n surfers w o r l d w i d e .

W o m e n are m a k i n g advances g l o b a l l y and m o r e recently, w o m e n have persevered o n the

pro scene and h a v e made in-roads o n the b i g w a v e scene c h a l l e n g i n g the gender order i n

surfing. C a n a d i a n w o m e n have emerged onto the scene and T o f i n o , B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a

shows evidence o f b e i n g a t h r i v i n g s u r f c o m m u n i t y . E v e n t h o u g h C a n a d i a n surfers

endure harsh c o n d i t i o n s , females are i n c r e a s i n g l y d r a w n to o u r l o c a l waters and are

g a i n i n g acceptance as surfers.

B y u t i l i z i n g ethnographic methods this study has p r o v i d e d an i m p r o v e d

understanding o f the w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g subculture i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a , and the factors that

f u e l e d the g r o w t h o f the industry. T h i s study i d e n t i f i e d eight factors as contributors to

the g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g , s p e c i f i c a l l y i n B C . T h e s e factors i n c l u d e : changes i n

wetsuit t e c h n o l o g y , crossover appeal f r o m s k a t e b o a r d i n g and s n o w b o a r d i n g , C a l i f o r n i a ' s

influence, increased d e m a n d f o r w o m e n ' s s u r f w e a r and s u r f f a s h i o n s , the g r o w t h o f

c o m p e t i t i v e s u r f i n g i n B C , increased m e d i a exposure o f C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g ,

d e v e l o p m e n t o f C a n a d i a n s u r f businesses, and w o m e n ' s increased c o m f o r t w i t h the

identity o f ' b e i n g a surfer'.

F e w studies h a v e a n a l y z e d w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g lifestyles generally, and there is no

evidence o f any investigations that have l o o k e d at s u r f i n g as an a c t i v i t y o f c o n s u m p t i o n

i n a c o n s u m e r society w h i c h is i n f l u e n c e d b y brand m a r k e t i n g . A s s u c h , this thesis has

e x p a n d e d the w a y s that w e can study sport subcultures. C a n a d i a n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g

c o m b i n e s features o f a subculture o f c o n s u m p t i o n and m a y best be thought o f as a

' c o m m o d i t y - o r i e n t a t e d s u b c u l t u r e ' ( W h e a t o n , 2 0 0 0 , p. 2 6 1 ) that is d r i v e n b o t h b y a


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developing organic women's surfing subculture (the hard-cores) and by the market

activities (product development, women's wear branding, women's-specific retailing) of

the major surf brands.

In addition to providing a new research perspective, this study provides a

Canadian perspective on what is a growing global phenomenon, women's surfing. The

method of interviewing three populations proved to be a useful way to gain insights into

how each contributes to the overall development of surfing as a popular cultural form and

set of practices.

7.1 Opportunities for Future Research

The future of the sport of surfing in Canada and globally is relatively unknown.

This opens the question, what is the next step in surfing evolution? Improved

technologies in board and watercraft design and in weather forecasting have pushed

surfing to new levels, where tow-ins are commonplace and the search is for the biggest

wave. Will Canada gain credibility worldwide as a surfing destination? Will the town of

Tofino suffer the same loss when fishing industries were on the wane or will surfing

continue to be the main economic contributor for this coastal community?

There is evidence that surfing is becoming more gender neutral, however, future

research with both Canadian male and female surfers at different surfing locations on the

West Coast of Canada, could help to create a better understanding of our own social

structure of gender relationships.

The focus of this study was to analyze the relationship between women's surf

culture in Western Canada and the marketing activities of the Canadian surf wear
155

industry. T h e research d e s i g n d i d not focus o n integration into the s u r f culture. T h e

interviews h e l p e d i d e n t i f y factors that have contributed to a g r o w t h o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g .

T h r o u g h m y o w n personal experiences and those conversations, our s u r f culture does

e x h i b i t a l e v e l o f acceptance that seems to be u n i q u e to o u r o w n culture. A l l the

interviewees w e r e c o m m i t t e d participants, h o w e v e r , t w o participants l i v e d i n T o f i n o , and

the other three l i v e d i n the V a n c o u v e r area. Perhaps conversations w i t h m o r e w o m e n

w h o reside i n T o f i n o w o u l d p r o v i d e an increased understanding o f o u r l o c a l s u r f

c o m m u n i t y . H o w e v e r , this research w o u l d focus o n the lifestyles o f a s m a l l p o r t i o n o f

w o m e n surfers i n total. It w o u l d be s p e c i f i c to T o f i n o w o m e n surfers, and w o u l d not

represent the w o m e n ' s s u r f p o p u l a t i o n i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a . T h e r e f o r e , I w o u l d

r e c o m m e n d a c o m p a r a t i v e study w i t h other s u r f p o p u l a t i o n s to g a i n a better

understanding o f the range o f experiences and groups.

F u r t h e r m o r e , the age o f f e m a l e surfers o n C a n a d a ' s west coast seems to be o l d e r

than other s u r f i n g destinations. H o w e v e r , recent C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g c o m p e t i t i o n s had

m o r e y o u n g g i r l s participate. A n in-depth e x a m i n a t i o n o f B C s u r f culture w o u l d p r o v i d e

an increased u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f these trends. Interviews w i t h y o u n g e r surfers i n particular

c o u l d y i e l d interesting results, i n regards to their c o n s u m p t i o n habits and their use o f s u r f

style as a means o f d e m o n s t r a t i n g their s u r f i n g identity.

T h i s past s u m m e r (2006) the East C o a s t o f C a n a d a opened its first w o m e n - o w n e d

and operated s u r f s c h o o l c a l l e d " O n e L i f e S u r f i l l u s t r a t i n g that the increased presence o f

w o m e n i n the water has infiltrated b o t h coastlines. A c o m p a r a t i v e study betw een these

t w o s u r f locales w o u l d p r o v i d e an increased understanding o f C a n a d i a n s u r f culture, and

the penetration o f the s u r f products industry n a t i o n w i d e .


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A l t h o u g h , the interviewees h a d an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the female teen and pre-teen

c o n s u m e r and several themes w e r e i d e n t i f i e d i n the analysis, a further e x a m i n a t i o n o f this

target group w o u l d p r o v e b e n e f i c i a l to s u r f b r a n d marketers and retailers. T h e C a n a d i a n

s u r f b r a n d representatives i n t e r v i e w e d i n this study demonstrated a h i g h l e v e l o f

k n o w l e d g e i n regards to their b r a n d m a r k e t i n g strategies. H o w e v e r , each core b r a n d

e m p l o y s a m a r k e t i n g team that w o r k s o n the b r a n d ' s i m a g e and strategy, and interviews

w i t h these representatives at the brands headquarters w o u l d p r o v i d e a m o r e t h o r o u g h

understanding o f their strategies i n g a i n i n g and r e t a i n i n g the y o u n g e r female c o n s u m e r .

A d d i t i o n a l l y , further research i n the f o r m o f focus groups w i t h f e m a l e c o n s u m e r s

o f s u r f w e a r c o u l d p o t e n t i a l l y p r o v i d e a better understanding o f their c o n s u m p t i o n habits

and purchase m o t i v a t i o n s . It c o u l d also h e l p i d e n t i f y the s u r f m e d i a they are d r a w n to,

what m a r k e t i n g techniques they can relate to, and what brands they are i n c r e a s i n g l y l o y a l

to. W h e a t o n and B e a l (2003) u t i l i z e d audience research i n their analysis o f U K

w i n d s u r f e r s and U S skateboarders, and f o c u s e d o n " e x a m i n i n g the m e a n i n g s that the

n i c h e m a g a z i n e s have for the participants o f those alternative sports i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f

their i d e n t i t i e s " (p. 155). T h e i r research suggests that " m a g a z i n e s p l a y e d an important

role i n p r o v i d i n g and c i r c u l a t i n g cultural k n o w l e d g e s [sic], but also were an avenue for

the participants to d i s p l a y their subcultural c a p i t a l " (p. 155). T h e r e are n u m e r o u s

opportunities f o r future research w i t h f e m a l e participants and/or f e m a l e consumers o f

surf m e d i a . T h i s research w o u l d be b e n e f i c i a l to advertisers w h o craft their pitches

s p e c i f i c a l l y to reach this d e m o g r a p h i c , and to see the effectiveness o f the current

messages and images.


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A s s u r f i n g b e c o m e s m o r e o p e n to w o m e n a n d females b e c o m e m o r e i n v o l v e d i n

the p r o f e s s i o n a l c i r c u i t the future o f w o m e n ' s p r o f e s s i o n a l s u r f i n g still remains uncertain.

W i l l w o m e n ' s p r o f e s s i o n a l s u r f i n g b e c o m e an equal m a t c h to m e n ' s ? W i l l the sport o f

s u r f i n g a n d its i d e n t i t y be c o n t i n u a l l y strengthened a n d w i l l w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g continue to

g r o w outside o f the b o x that it is c o n d i t i o n a l l y kept i n ? T h e answers to these questions as

yet r e m a i n unclear.

T h e s u r f i n d u s t r y seems to be entering a n o s t a l g i c phase i n w h i c h s u r f i n g pioneers

are b e i n g a c k n o w l e d g e d f o r d e v e l o p i n g the sport. T h e s u r f v i d e o s b e i n g released are also

addressing this trend t h r o u g h the release o f b i o g r a p h i c features and m e m o i r s o f s u r f i n g

greats. A further trend is that surfers are a c t i v e l y s u p p o r t i n g l o c a l S u r f r i d e r F o u n d a t i o n

chapters. M o s t recently, west coast chapters i n C a n a d a have o r g a n i z e d events to c l e a n u p

l o c a l s u r f i n g e n v i r o n m e n t s . P e o p l e are starting to a c k n o w l e d g e the e n v i r o n m e n t a l i m p a c t

and are t r y i n g to b e proactive i n their efforts to keep the waters clean a n d safe.

M e a n w h i l e , s u r f b r a n d marketers are r e l e a s i n g products that donate a percentage o f the

sale o f the product to Surfrider F o u n d a t i o n . W h a t has fueled this nostalgic phase i n

s u r f i n g , a n d is this a result o f trends seen i n the c o n s u m e r market generally w h e r e

products are i n c r e a s i n g l y b e i n g d e v e l o p e d that raise awareness a n d o f f e r support to s o c i a l

causes?

7.2 Study Limitations

A t the t i m e o f recruitment I h a d n o i n s i d e k n o w l e d g e o f the i n d u s t r y and its

participants. I w a s not an active m e m b e r o f the T o f i n o s u r f scene. I w a s aware o f a

w o m e n ' s - s p e c i f i c s u r f s c h o o l but h a d no other contact i n f o r m a t i o n . T h e group that


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p r o v e d to be most d i f f i c u l t to reach was the surfers as I w a s not one m y s e l f and had to

gain access to this group. I i n c o r p o r a t e d participant o b s e r v a t i o n and several trips to

V a n c o u v e r Island i n order to m a k e connections w i t h this g r o u p . A s an outsider, these

interactions p r o v e d m o r e t r y i n g to f o r m .

T h e recruitment o f retailers p r o v e d to be the easiest group to coordinate

interviews w i t h as they had a fixed address and they w e r e easier to locate. A l l i n a l l , the

response rate was e x t r e m e l y p o s i t i v e and the desired s a m p l e was i n t e r v i e w e d f o r m y

study. A f e w interviewees w e r e quite h e l p f u l i n p o i n t i n g out other areas that m a y be

interesting. W i t h persistence I was able to d e v e l o p relations w i t h three u n i q u e groups

that gave v o i c e to the s u r f scene and s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y i n C a n a d a .

A g o a l o f this research was to g a i n an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g

subculture i n W e s t e r n C a n a d a i n a d d i t i o n to the m a r k e t i n g activities o f the C a n a d i a n s u r f

wear industry. T h e r e f o r e , this study represents a p r o f i l e o f W e s t e r n C a n a d i a n w o m e n

surfers but does not reflect the o p i n i o n s o f a l l core m e m b e r s . A s suggested, further

research w i t h this p o p u l a t i o n w o u l d p r o v i d e an in-depth u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the structure o f

the C a n a d i a n s u r f i n g subculture. F u r t h e r m o r e , a l l the surfers i n t e r v i e w e d i n the study

were i n their m i d 20s to late 20s, perhaps conversations w i t h other generations w o u l d

have y i e l d e d different responses. Y o u n g e r girls w e r e seen i n the water h o w e v e r , this

s a m p l e was not represented i n this research.

Interestingly, f e m a l e surfers expressed h o w important it is f o r m e to try s u r f i n g .

T h e y insisted that " y o u d o n ' t want to be a k o o k or a p o s e r " . P r i o r to a c q u i r i n g an

i n t e r v i e w w i t h a core surfer she enlisted m e i n s u r f lessons at her s u r f s c h o o l . T h i s

demonstrated the i m p o r t a n c e o f b e i n g a surfer and not just a researcher. O n c e she k n e w I


159

was interested i n l e a r n i n g to surf, she i n t r o d u c e d m e to other s u r f instructors and accepted

m y role as a researcher. T h i s demonstrated s o m e o f the unique tendencies i n the s u r f i n g

subculture. A l a c k o f a d e f i n e d participant role was an early l i m i t a t i o n i n the recruitment

o f surfers. A c c e p t a n c e into the s u r f culture r e q u i r e d just getting into the water. M a n y o f

the b r a n d representatives and retailers d i d not share the same o p i n i o n as not a l l w e r e core

m e m b e r s o f the s u r f i n g subculture. H o w e v e r , they a l l shared the same p a s s i o n f o r s u r f i n g

and the s u r f lifestyle.


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Appendix I
167

Appendix II
169

Appendix III
172

Appendix IV
173

Interview Questions: Surf School Owner

1) History/Background Information:
a) H o w l o n g h a v e y o u been i n v o l v e d i n the sport o f surfing?
b) H o w l o n g has (surf s c h o o l name) been i n operation?
c) W h e r e d i d the i d e a to o p e n an a l l w o m e n ' s s u r f s c h o o l originate?
d) W h y an all w o m e n s u r f s c h o o l ? W a s there a d e m a n d for a w o m e n ' s
s p e c i f i c s u r f s c h o o l at the t i m e o f (surf s c h o o l name)'s i n c e p t i o n ?
e) W h a t is (surf s c h o o l n a m e ) ' s m i s s i o n ? H o w successful has (surf s c h o o l
name) been at m a i n t a i n i n g o r r e a c h i n g this goal?

2) Target Market:
a) W h a t is y o u r p r i m a r y target market?
b) W h o attends (surf s c h o o l n a m e ) ' s lessons? W h e r e do y o u r clients c o m e
from?
c) D o y o u t h i n k that s u r f i n g is a p p e a l i n g to teens and pre-teens? H o w
important is the so-called G e n e r a t i o n Y to the success o f y o u r business?

3) Marketing:
a) W h a t m a r k e t i n g techniques does (surf s c h o o l name) u t i l i z e to promote its
school? ( w o r d o f m o u t h , a d v e r t i s i n g , p r o m o t i o n s , events)
b) Is the Internet an important t o o l used i n the p r o m o t i o n o f (surf s c h o o l
name)? E x p l a i n .

4) Participation:
a) There is a p e r c e p t i o n that m o r e w o m e n are s u r f i n g these days. S i n c e the
i n c e p t i o n o f (surf s c h o o l name) have y o u n o t i c e d a g r o w t h i n the support
and n u m b e r o f w o m e n surfing?
b) W h a t do y o u t h i n k p r o p e l l e d the s u r f industry to where it is today? What
is c a u s i n g this increased attraction to the sport?
c) H o w has the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g affected the n u m b e r
o f participants e n r o l l e d i n lessons w i t h (surf s c h o o l name)?
d) D o y o u t h i n k w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is here to stay? H o w do w e k n o w ? W h a t
are the signs?
e) D o y o u t h i n k the recent p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is due to m a r k e t i n g
and/or m e d i a c o v e r a g e o r a result o f an increased n u m b e r o f females
t r y i n g out the sport and getting i n the water?

5) Appeal:
a) D o y o u t h i n k a g i r l s - o n l y e n v i r o n m e n t is important to y o u r clientele? D o
participants feel m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e b e i n g taught b y females and l e a r n i n g to
s u r f w i t h w o m e n i n the group o n l y ? W h y ? E x p l a i n .
b) W h a t i n i t i a l l y attracted y o u to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e ? (E.g. e n v i r o n m e n t ,
f r e e d o m , r i s k , l i f e s t y l e , intensity)
c) W h a t do y o u t h i n k attracts y o u n g girls and w o m e n to surfing? W h y ?
Explain.
174

d) D o y o u think the s u r f scene i n C a n a d a is different f r o m other g e o g r a p h i c a l


locations? W h a t attracts females to s u r f i n g i n C a n a d a ?
e) D o y o u b e l i e v e there is crossover between s u r f i n g and the other b o a r d
sports (E.g. s n o w b o a r d i n g , skateboarding and w a k e b o a r d i n g ) ? H a v e these
sports h e l p e d stimulate the s u r f industry?

6 ) Identity:
a} D o y o u think b e i n g a surfer is part o f y o u r identity? H o w ? D o e s it
i n f l u e n c e y o u r purchase d e c i s i o n s ? (E.g. m u s i c , clothes, cars) D o e s it
affect what activities y o u d o ? D o e s b e i n g a surfer p l a y a r o l e i n the
f o r m a t i o n o f y o u r attitude?
b) D o y o u w e a r s u r f b r a n d e d clothes to identify y o u r s e l f as a surfer?
c) D o y o u think non-surfers use s u r f style as a means o f a d o p t i n g s u r f i n g
identity? H o w ? E x p l a i n .
d) D o y o u think particular p e o p l e use/wear different brands based o n their
identity? T o what effect? E x p l a i n .

7) Surf Culture:
a) D o y o u t h i n k that surfers are a distinct group? A r e surfers different i n
some w a y ? H o w are surfers different?
b) W h e r e do w o m e n fit into this picture?
c) D o y o u c o n s i d e r y o u r s e l f to b e an insider i n the l o c a l s u r f scene?
d) H o w d o y o u b e c o m e accepted as a m e m b e r o f this culture?
o E.g. c o m m i t m e n t , b e a c h c r e d i b i l i t y , equipment, style

8) Surfing in Canada:
a] A r e there m a n y opportunities f o r female surfers to advance o r get
recognized i n Canada?
O E.g. c o m p e t i t i o n s , sponsorships, p r o m o t i o n s

9) Blue Crush:
a) D o y o u t h i n k B l u e C r u s h accurately portrayed the sport o f w o m e n ' s
surfing?
b) W h a t do y o u t h i n k the release o f B l u e C r u s h last A u g u s t d i d to w o m e n ' s
surfing? Increased participation? Increased appeal? Increased support?
W h o benefited?
c) D o y o u think the release o f B l u e C r u s h increased the d e m a n d for s u r f w e a r
and surf-themed products a m o n g y o u n g g i r l s and w o m e n i n general?

10) Surf Wear Industry:


a) T h e s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y has g r o w n i n the past f e w years. W h a t do y o u
b e l i e v e contributed to the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f wear?
b) D o y o u think this g r o w t h w i l l continue i n the years to come? Is this a
short-term trend o r a long-term change i n the s u r f w e a r industry?
c) T h e s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y has expanded their d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n -
oriented products. D o y o u think these products m a k e w o m e n m o r e
175

c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h the identity o f " b e i n g a surfer"? H o w ? W h a t has been


the i m p a c t o f these products o n w o m e n ' s surfing?
d) W h a t do ' r e a l ' surfers t h i n k about the emergence o f s u r f brands and s u r f
wear into the m a i n s t r e a m ?

11) Surf Brands:


a) A r e y o u l o y a l to a n y s p e c i f i c s u r f w e a r brands? W h i c h ones? W h y ? W h a t
do these brands m e a n to y o u ?
b} D o y o u t h i n k certain s u r f brands h a v e a particular personality?
c) W h a t s u r f brands have gained p o p u l a r i t y as a w h o l e ?
d) D o y o u t h i n k the s u r f w e a r market is b e c o m i n g too saturated?

12) Brand Marketing:


a) H o w are these s u r f brands b e i n g marketed? P r o m o t e d ? W h a t k i n d o f
m a r k e t i n g techniques do y o u support i n order to raise s u r f b r a n d
awareness?
b) W h o do y o u t h i n k s u r f brand marketers are m a i n l y t r y i n g to target?
c) H a s y o u r perception o f a s u r f b r a n d changed due to its m a r k e t i n g efforts?
A n y examples?

Interview Questions: Surfers

1) History/Background Information:
a] H o w l o n g have y o u been i n v o l v e d i n the sport o f surfing?
b] W h e r e d i d y o u first experience the sport? H a v e y o u been an a v i d
surfer since that first experience o n the board?
c] D o y o u s u r f year round? H o w important is b e i n g able to s u r f to
y o u r lifestyle? D o e s b e i n g able to s u r f i m p a c t the d e c i s i o n s y o u
m a k e w i t h regard to w o r k , travel, l i v i n g and activities y o u partake
in socially?

2) Participation:
a) T h e r e is a p e r c e p t i o n that m o r e w o m e n are s u r f i n g these days.
S i n c e y o u b e g a n s u r f i n g have y o u n o t i c e d a g r o w t h i n the support
and n u m b e r o f w o m e n surfing?
b} W h a t do y o u t h i n k p r o p e l l e d the s u r f industry to where it is today?
W h a t is c a u s i n g this increased attraction to the sport?
c] D o y o u t h i n k w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is here to stay? H o w do w e k n o w ?
W h a t are the signs?
d) D o y o u t h i n k the recent p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is due to
m a r k e t i n g and/or m e d i a coverage o r a result o f an increased
n u m b e r o f females t r y i n g out the sport and getting i n the water?
176

3) Appeal:
a) W h a t i n i t i a l l y attracted y o u to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e ? (E.g. e n v i r o n m e n t ,
f r e e d o m , r i s k , l i f e s t y l e , intensity)
b j W h a t d o y o u t h i n k attracts y o u n g girls and w o m e n to surfing?
c) D o y o u t h i n k the s u r f scene i n C a n a d a i s different f r o m other
g e o g r a p h i c a l locations? W h a t attracts females to s u r f i n g i n
Canada?
d) D o y o u b e l i e v e there is crossover between s u r f i n g and the other
b o a r d sports (E.g. s n o w b o a r d i n g , s k a t e b o a r d i n g a n d
wakeboarding)? H a v e these sports h e l p e d stimulate the s u r f
industry?

4) Identity:
a) D o y o u t h i n k b e i n g a surfer is part o f y o u r identity? H o w ? D o e s it
i n f l u e n c e y o u r purchase d e c i s i o n s ? (E.g. m u s i c , clothes, cars) D o e s
it affect what activities y o u d o ? D o e s b e i n g a surfer p l a y a role i n
the f o r m a t i o n o f y o u r attitude?
b] D o y o u w e a r s u r f branded clothes to i d e n t i f y y o u r s e l f as a surfer?
c) D o y o u t h i n k non-surfers use s u r f style as a means o f a d o p t i n g
s u r f i n g identity? H o w ? E x p l a i n .
d] D o y o u t h i n k particular people use/wear different brands based o n
their identity? T o what effect? E x p l a i n .

5) Surf Culture:
a) D o y o u t h i n k that surfers are a distinct group? A r e surfers
different i n s o m e w a y ? H o w are surfers different?
W h e r e do w o m e n fit into this picture?
D o y o u c o n s i d e r y o u r s e l f to be an i n s i d e r i n the l o c a l s u r f scene?
H o w d o y o u b e c o m e accepted as a m e m b e r o f this culture?
o E.g. c o m m i t m e n t , beach c r e d i b i l i t y , equipment, style

6) Surfing in Canada:
a) A r e there m a n y opportunities for female surfers to advance o r get
recognized i n Canada?
o E.g. c o m p e t i t i o n s , s p o n s o r s h i p s , p r o m o t i o n s

7) Blue Crush:
a) D o y o u t h i n k B l u e C r u s h accurately portrayed the sport o f
w o m e n ' s surfing?
b) W h a t d o y o u t h i n k the release o f B l u e C r u s h last A u g u s t d i d to
w o m e n ' s surfing? Increased participation? Increased appeal?
Increased support? W h o benefited?
c) D o y o u t h i n k the release o f B l u e C r u s h increased the d e m a n d f o r
s u r f w e a r and surf-themed products a m o n g y o u n g g i r l s and w o m e n
i n general?
177

8) Surf Wear Industry:


a) T h e s u r f w e a r industry has g r o w n i n the past f e w years. W h a t d o
y o u t h i n k contributed to the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f
wear?
b) D o y o u t h i n k this g r o w t h w i l l continue i n the years to c o m e ? Is this
a short-term trend o r a long-term change i n the s u r f w e a r industry?
c) T h e s u r f w e a r industry has e x p a n d e d their d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n -
oriented products. D o y o u t h i n k these products m a k e w o m e n m o r e
c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h the identity o f " b e i n g a s u r f e r " ? H o w ? W h a t has
been the i m p a c t o f these products o n w o m e n ' s surfing?
d) W h a t do ' r e a l ' surfers t h i n k about the emergence o f s u r f brands
and s u r f w e a r into the mainstream?

9) Surf Brands:
a] A r e y o u l o y a l to any s p e c i f i c s u r f w e a r brands? W h i c h ones?
W h y ? W h a t do these brands m e a n to y o u ?
b] D o y o u t h i n k certain s u r f brands h a v e a particular personality?
c] W h a t s u r f brands h a v e gained p o p u l a r i t y as a w h o l e ?
d] D o y o u t h i n k the s u r f w e a r market i s b e c o m i n g too saturated?

10) Brand Marketing


a) H o w are these s u r f brands b e i n g marketed? P r o m o t e d ? W h a t k i n d
o f m a r k e t i n g techniques do y o u support i n order to raise b r a n d
awareness?
b) W h o d o y o u t h i n k s u r f b r a n d marketers are m a i n l y t r y i n g to target?
c) H a s y o u r perception o f a s u r f b r a n d changed due to its m a r k e t i n g
efforts? A n y e x a m p l e s ?

Interview Questions: Retailers

1) History/Background Information:
a) H o w l o n g has (store name) been i n operation?
b) H a v e y o u a l w a y s carried s u r f m e r c h a n d i s e at y o u r store? I f not, w h e n d i d
y o u d e c i d e to start c a r r y i n g s u r f merchandise? W h a t m o t i v a t e d y o u to
e x p l o r e the s u r f products market?
c) H a v e y o u e x p a n d e d the lines y o u r store carries over the years to reach the
female c o n s u m e r ? W h a t m o t i v a t e d y o u to further e x p l o r e this m a r k e t ?
d) H o w do y o u decide what to order and w h a t brands y o u r store w i l l carry?

2) Target Market:
a) W h o i s y o u r p r i m a r y c o n s u m e r o f surf-related m e r c h a n d i s e ?
b) D o y o u t h i n k the s u r f w e a r industry targets teens and pre-teens? H o w
important is the so-called G e n e r a t i o n Y to (store name) i n particular?
c) H o w important is the female c o n s u m e r to the o v e r a l l success o f (store
name)?
178

d) S i n c e (store name) has been i n operation have y o u n o t i c e d a change i n the


d e m o g r a p h i c s (age, gender) o f y o u r m a i n c o n s u m e r s ? W h a t can b e
attributed to this v a r i e d clientele?

3) Participation:
a) There is a p e r c e p t i o n that m o r e w o m e n are s u r f i n g these days. S i n c e y o u
have been i n the retail i n d u s t r y have y o u n o t i c e d a g r o w t h i n the support
and n u m b e r o f w o m e n surfing?
b) W h a t do y o u t h i n k p r o p e l l e d the s u r f industry to w h e r e it is today? W h a t is
c a u s i n g this increased attraction to the sport?
c) D o y o u t h i n k w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g is here to stay? H o w do w e k n o w ? W h a t
are the signs?
d) H o w m u c h o f an i n f l u e n c e has m a r k e t i n g h a d o n the increased p o p u l a r i t y
o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and the d e m a n d for surf-related products?
e) In general terms, h o w has the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g
affected y o u r sales at (store name)?

4) Appeal:
a) W h a t d o y o u b e l i e v e attracts y o u n g girls and w o m e n to surfing?
b) W h a t appeals non-surfers to the s u r f l i f e s t y l e and hence s u r f style?
c) W h e r e does this f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h the s u r f l i f e s t y l e originate?
d) D o y o u b e l i e v e that the s u r f l i f e s t y l e has crossed o v e r to the mainstream?
W h y does s u r f i n g h a v e s u c h a strong m a i n s t r e a m presence?
e) D o y o u b e l i e v e there is crossover between s u r f i n g and the other b o a r d
sports (E.g. s n o w b o a r d i n g , skateboarding and w a k e b o a r d i n g ) ? H a v e these
sports helped stimulate the s u r f industry?

5) Identity
a) D o y o u think non-surfers use s u r f style as a means o f a d o p t i n g s u r f i n g
identity? H o w ? E x p l a i n .
b) D o y o u t h i n k particular p e o p l e use/wear different brands based o n their
identity? T o what effect? E x p l a i n .

6) Surf Wear Industry:


a) D o y o u b e l i e v e the s u r f l i f e s t y l e has s p a w n e d a f a s h i o n trend?
b) T h e s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y has seen dramatic g r o w t h i n the past f e w years.
W h a t d o y o u t h i n k contributed to the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f
wear?
c) D o s u r f fashions have s t a y i n g p o w e r i n the l o n g run? D o y o u see the s u r f
wear industry g a i n i n g m o m e n t u m i n the years to c o m e ? Is this a short-
term trend o r a long-term change i n the s u r f w e a r industry?
d) T h e s u r f w e a r industry has expanded their d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n -
oriented products. D o y o u t h i n k these products m a k e w o m e n m o r e
c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h the identity o f " b e i n g a s u r f e r " ? H o w ? W h a t has been
the i m p a c t o f these products o n w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g and the s u r f wear
industry?
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e) W h a t percentage o f y o u r customer base w o u l d y o u c l a s s i f y as actual


surfers? H o w important are the core surfers to the success o f (store
name)?

7) Surfing in Canada:
a) D o y o u t h i n k the s u r f scene i n C a n a d a is different f r o m other g e o g r a p h i c a l
locations? W h a t attracts females to s u r f i n g i n C a n a d a ?
b) H o w does the s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y d i f f e r i n C a n a d a c o m p a r e d to other parts
o f the w o r l d ?
c) W h a t is the biggest i n f l u e n c e o n the C a n a d i a n s u r f w e a r industry?
d) D o y o u k n o w o f a n y w o m e n ' s o n l y s u r f schools i n C a n a d a ? H o w d i d y o u
hear about this s u r f s c h o o l ?

8) Surf Brand:
a) D o y o u b e l i e v e that b r a n d i n g has d r i v e n the fashions?
b) W h i c h s u r f brands are the most p o p u l a r a m o n g y o u n g girls and w o m e n ?
c) W h y do y o u t h i n k (brand name) has captured the f e m a l e teen and pre-teen
market so w e l l ?

9) Marketing:
a) D o e s y o u r c o m p a n y do market research? H o w do y o u d e c i d e w h i c h items
y o u r store w i l l carry each season?
b) W h e r e do s u r f trends originate? W h o are the trend setters?
c) W h a t m a r k e t i n g techniques do y o u c o n s i d e r to b e m o s t effective by
marketers i n r a i s i n g b r a n d awareness i n the s u r f industry?

10) Blue Crush:


a) Several articles p u b l i s h e d i n the V a n c o u v e r S u n f o l l o w i n g the release o f
B l u e C r u s h i n d i c a t e d that retailers i n the L o w e r M a i n l a n d w e r e c a s h i n g i n
o n the m a g n e t i s m o f the s u r f culture and its e x p l o s i v e effect o n b e a c h w e a r
i n general? Is this accurate? D i d y o u notice increased sales as a result o f
this f i l m ' s release?
b) In the f i l m B l u e C r u s h , the s u r f b r a n d B i l l a b o n g w a s the f i l m ' s s u r f w e a r
p r o m o t i o n a l partner? D i d y o u notice an increased d e m a n d for this b r a n d
f o l l o w i n g the f i l m ' s release?

Canadian Brand Manufacturing Representatives: Interview Questions

1) History/Background Information:
a) H o w l o n g has (brand name) been around? W h e n w a s it founded? W h a t is
the brands history?
b) Is (brand name) a g l o b a l brand? H o w m a n y countries h a v e dealers s e l l i n g
y o u r brand?
c) H a s y o u r b r a n d e x p a n d e d as a result o f the increased support and
p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s surfing?
d) W h a t is (brand n a m e ) ' s m i s s i o n as a b r a n d i n the s u r f w e a r industry?
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2) Target Market:
a) W h o is the m a i n target f o r y o u r brand?
b) D o y o u t h i n k the s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y targets teens and pre-teens? H o w
important i s the so-called G e n e r a t i o n Y to (brand name) i n particular?
c) H o w important is the female c o n s u m e r to the o v e r a l l success o f y o u r
brand?

3) Participation:
a) There is a p e r c e p t i o n that m o r e w o m e n are s u r f i n g these days. S i n c e y o u
have been i n the s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y h a v e y o u n o t i c e d a g r o w t h i n the
support and n u m b e r o f w o m e n surfing?
b) W h a t do y o u t h i n k p r o p e l l e d the s u r f industry to w h e r e it is today? W h a t is
c a u s i n g this increased attraction to the sport?
c) D o y o u t h i n k w o m e n ' s s u r f i n g i s here to stay? H o w do w e k n o w ? W h a t
are the signs?
d) H o w m u c h o f an i n f l u e n c e has m a r k e t i n g been o n the increased p o p u l a r i t y
o f s u r f i n g and the d e m a n d for surf-related products?

4) Appeal:
a) W h a t do y o u b e l i e v e attracts y o u n g girls and w o m e n to surfing?
b) W h a t appeals c o n s u m e r s to the s u r f w e a r industry?
c) W h e r e does this f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h the s u r f l i f e s t y l e originate?
d) D o y o u b e l i e v e that the s u r f l i f e s t y l e has crossed o v e r to the mainstream?
W h y does s u r f i n g h a v e such a strong m a i n s t r e a m presence?
e) D o y o u b e l i e v e there i s crossover betw een s u r f i n g and the other b o a r d
sports (E.g. s n o w b o a r d i n g , skateboarding and w a k e b o a r d i n g ) ? H a v e these
sports h e l p e d stimulate the s u r f industry?

5) Identity:
a) D o y o u t h i n k non-surfers use s u r f style as a means o f a d o p t i n g s u r f i n g
identity? H o w ? E x p l a i n .
b) D o y o u t h i n k particular p e o p l e use/wear different brands based o n their
identity? T o w h a t effect? E x p l a i n .

6) Surf Culture:
a) D o y o u t h i n k that surfers are a distinct group? A r e surfers different i n
some w a y ? H o w are they different?
b) W h e r e do w o m e n fit into this picture?
c) H o w do y o u b e c o m e accepted as a m e m b e r o f this culture?
o E.g. c o m m i t m e n t , beach c r e d i b i l i t y , equipment, style

7) Surf Wear Industry:


a) D o y o u b e l i e v e the s u r f l i f e s t y l e has s p a w n e d a f a s h i o n trend?
b) T h e s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y has seen dramatic g r o w t h i n the past f e w years.
W h a t do y o u t h i n k contributed to the increased p o p u l a r i t y o f w o m e n ' s s u r f
wear?
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c) D o y o u see the s u r f w e a r industry g a i n i n g m o m e n t u m i n the years to


come? Is this a short-term trend or a long-term change i n the s u r f w e a r
industry?
d) T h e s u r f w e a r i n d u s t r y has e x p a n d e d their d e v e l o p m e n t o f w o m e n -
oriented products. D o y o u t h i n k these products m a k e w o m e n m o r e
c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h the identity o f " b e i n g a s u r f e r " ? H o w ? W h a t has been
the i m p a c t o f these products o n w o m e n ' s surfing?
e) H o w strong is the s u r f w e a r industry i n C a n a d a ? Is it o n the u p s w i n g ?
f) H o w important are the core surfers to the success o f y o u r brand?

Surf Brand:
a) H o w do y o u d i s t i n g u i s h y o u r s e l f f r o m the c o m p e t i t i o n ?
b) D o y o u have a s p e c i f i c p e r s o n a l i t y f o r y o u r brand? W h a t k i n d o f i m a g e
are y o u t r y i n g to e m b o d y ?
c) H o w have y o u p o s i t i o n e d y o u r b r a n d i n the market?

Marketing:
a) W h a t m a r k e t i n g techniques do y o u u t i l i z e to p r o m o t e y o u r brand?
b) There is a p e r c e p t i o n that i n order to reach the w o r l d l y w i s e so-called
G e n e r a t i o n Y , marketers need to craft products and pitches that are m o r e
realistic. H a v e y o u changed y o u r m a r k e t i n g strategy to capture this
generation's attention? H o w does (brand name) c o m m u n i c a t e to y o u t h
culture?
c) There is a p e r c e p t i o n that the Internet is the m e d i u m o f c h o i c e amongst
G e n e r a t i o n Y for entertainment, c o m m u n i c a t i o n , and product research?
H o w important is the Internet i n y o u r m a r k e t i n g strategy?
d) Furthermore, there is a p e r c e p t i o n that w o m e n are b e c o m i n g i n c r e a s i n g l y
important i n the sport marketplace. It is suggested that c o m p a n i e s s e e k i n g
to target and reach the f e m a l e c o n s u m e r must change the w a y they
c o m m u n i c a t e to th e m. H o w do y o u c o m m u n i c a t e to w o m e n ?
o E.g. change the tone i n w h i c h y o u speak to w o m e n
e) H o w important are c e l e b r i t y athletes to y o u r m a r k e t i n g strategy? D o y o u
sponsor athletes? H o w m a n y o f t h e m are female?
f) D o y o u do m a r k e t research? W h a t are the m a i n considerations y o u put into
product d e v e l o p m e n t ?
g) W h e r e do the s u r f w e a r trends originate? W h o are the trend setters?

Blue Crush:
a) D o y o u t h i n k B l u e C r u s h accurately portrayed the sport o f w o m e n ' s
surfing?
b) W h a t d i d the release o f B l u e C r u s h last A u g u s t do to w o m e n ' s surfing?
Increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n ? Increased appeal? Increased support? W h o
benefited?
c) D o y o u t h i n k the release o f B l u e C r u s h increased the d e m a n d f o r s u r f w e a r
and s u r f t h e m e d products a m o n g y o u n g girls and w o m e n i n general?