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Where are we heading?
This question has been bothering me for months... It all started with the productive exchanges that take place each time I meet with our Snowboard Editor Rémi Forsans. Grey matter bubbles away and intuition fuses with years of experience. For Rémi, the merging of action sports and the outdoors is inevitable from this point on. The term 'outdoor action' is common currency in the U.S.... and in the European outdoor market. What’s more is that in a blink of an eye brands like Patagonia are becoming credible in a surfing market that has historically not been so welcoming to outsiders. The signs are there. It is clear we are living in times of change. Hard times some might say but I'll settle for times of change.
When I talked with Matthieu Bazil, MDEMEA of Fox Europe - the star of this month's Big Wig interview - doubts about my own approach were cast. Emboldened by its motorsports heritage, Fox, the historic MX and mountain bike brand, is seriously on the offensive in Europe... and in surfing. One hour of conversation with Matthieu forces me to rethink my position. Outdoor action is a reality, that's for sure, but have I been too quick to shun motorsports culture when considering European action sports? Look at Ken Block and Gymkhana. Now the wider public are more familiar with DC because of Ken's car than they are with the Great Wall of China because of Danny Way… And how about Valentino Rossi, who brings success to the brands who sponsor him amongst our market. "Moto GP? Nothing to do with boardsports,” you might say... Just like skiing 15 years ago or FMX 10 years ago...
“Fox in surfing in the U.S.? Why not?” I said before. “But in Europe? Never...” But modes of consumption have radically changed, as have peoples’ and brands’ visions. The exclusive blinkers of my generation are a thing of the past - the new consumer is all-inclusive. Whether that pleases us or not, from now on we are the old reactionary cross-section who we fought against in the '90s when we were 20. At that time the world was changing as much as it is today, the winners were those who could see and adapt.
An hour's conversation with Matthieu, a few nice meals with Rémi and I have to face facts: the world is changing and I have to change with it... or else I'm finished. The world of boardsports as we know it will never be the same. Mergers, takeovers, market developments... Basically there's a lot to discuss. Allow me to just say that Fox has arrived in Europe and that Fox has every opportunity in surfing as everywhere else... because the consumers say it's so.
Welcome to a new edition of Source, which we hope will be as refreshing as the intelligent exchanges with these visionary people.