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Preview: Surf Expo, Orlando, January 2023

Surf Expo starts in a couple of days, so we’re taking a look into who’s going and what’s on. On the 4th of January, retailers, buyers, brands, exhibitors, and individuals will all be heading to the Orange County Exhibition Center for the biggest Surf Expo since Covid.

Tell us about the key focus of the January show.
Our main focus is rebuilding our community post-COVID and delivering return on engagement for both brands and buyers. Our team works diligently to assemble a great mix of brands and products along with the right buyers, all while providing great on-site experience.

Surf Expo continues to bounce back post-pandemic, with the January 2023 show forecast to expand by 20% compared to the prior year. Net square footage will reach approximately 190,000 square feet. Driving that growth is a bountiful roster of established and up-and-coming surf hardgoods, wetsuits, and accessories brands, plus swimwear, beach lifestyle apparel brands, and gift companies.

We are thrilled that the winter show continues to grow post pandemic and are excited to welcome an impressive list of brands and retailers to Orlando.

What’s new for the 2023 January show?
Surf Expo will kick off in just a few days in Orlando, and we’re looking forward to welcoming a wide variety of brands and buyers to the show, which opens on Wednesday.

We’ve recently added Oakley and Costa Del Mar to the exhibitor list, and we have a great line up of notable brands coming to the show. Among them: Birkenstock, Keen Footwear, Hey Dude, Salty Crew, Katin, BN#TH, Dickies, Firewire Surf Boards, Xcel Wetsuits, Pura Vida, Havianas, Sperry, Sun Bum, and many more.

In addition to our extensive range of exhibitors, the list of registered retailers continues to grow and buyers from influential surf, souvenir, cruise, gift, theme parks, resorts, and airport shops are making plans to attend.

Retailers attending include Flip Flop Shops, Quiet Storm, Hansen Surfboards, La Gran Via/The Room, Heritage Surf & Sport, Farias Surf & Sport, Warm Winds, Cinnamon Rainbows, Hi-Tech Surf Sports, Hawaiian Island Creations, Jack’s Surfboards, Sun Diego, WRV, 17th Street, Coastal Edge, McKevlin’s Surf Shop, Outer Banks Boarding Company, Rooster Bus, K-Coast, Viking Tree, Outside Hilton Head, Force 5 Watersports, Moon, Palmetto Moon, Dillard’s Department Stores, Bealls, Paradies Lagardère Travel Retail, Travel Traders, Palladium Hotel Group, TJX Companies, Ross Stores, Starboard Cruise Service, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Walt Disney Theme Park Merchandise, among others.

Please tell us about some of the Boardsports brands coming to Surf Expo.
The January event is known for its hardgoods offering, and this edition will not disappoint. Surf Expo is hosting a plentiful roster of established and up-and-coming surf hardgoods, wetsuits, and accessories brands. We’re excited to welcome new brands Former, Rivvia Projects, and Misfit Shapes M/SF/T along with Lost, Firewire, Sharp Eye Surfboards, Rusty Surfboards, Hayden Shapes, Slater Designs, WRV, Ricky Carroll Surfboards, Savage Surfboards, Tahe, Vissla Wetsuits, Xcel Wetsuits, Leashlok Hawaii, and many more.

What are the most important product categories for boardsports retailers at the show and why?
The beauty about Surf Expo is that all of our sub expo’s work for core boardsport retailers. Obviously, boardshorts, wetsuits, boards, and eyewear are key, but our other categories including swimwear, resort, boutique, footwear, blue water, shoreline, and even souvenir, make Surf Expo a truly complete marketplace for surf shops. We are the perfect trade event to find next new thing.

Please tell us about Bluewater/Shoreline and the Neighborhood
Our Bluewater section is geared to highlight the waterman/fishing related manufacturers at our event and has even expanded to include what we like to call “shoreline” brands which highlight products used for light camping or day trips to the ocean, lake, or river. Key brands featured include AFTCO, Columbia Sportswear, Guy Harvey, Heybo, HUK, MANG Gear, Marsh Wear Clothing, Tormentor, and Bimini Bay. Our Neighborhood section continues to thrive giving opportunities to younger brands entering the board sports market and is anchored by Jetty, Roark, Dark Seas, Globe, Psycho Tuna, Rhythm, Brixton, Katin, and Otis Eyewear.

What are the key seminars and conferences at the show?
We are super excited about our speaker series including sustainability evangelist Derek Sabori with another sustainability mini masterclass, and we are excited to welcome Nathan Fluellen, founder of A Great Day in the Stoke. Nathan will discuss how the increased privatisation of swim lessons and pools has created a legacy of high barriers to swimming participation among Black/African American children. In addition, attendees will find education on topics including cash flow and profitability improvement, and also how to measure vendor performance at the retail level. All education is free for all attendees.

Please tell us about the European brands exhibiting.
Surf Expo continues to attract brands from around the world. A few notable brands who will be at our January show include Pineapple Island (UK), RYD Brand (South Africa) and Martha (Argentina).

Pineapple Island | Booth 664 (Surf) – a handmade jewellery and accessories brand based along the South Coast of the UK. Born from a journey of solo travel and self-discovery, they exist to introduce the fashion industry to ethical jewellery and bohemian accessories that won’t cost the Earth. With every product made, they aim to break the cycle. Their product range comprises of Bracelets, Anklets, Necklaces, Earrings and Rings.

RYD Brand International | Booth 114 (Surf) – Founded in Capetown, South Africa, RYD is a surf accessories brand that exists to impact people for good by humbly spreading the stoke of surfing.

Martha LLC | Booth 360 (Surf) – Martha designs, manufactures, and markets sustainable clothing accessories. Headwear is the company’s flagship category, catapulting Martha to 5x growth in 5 years as a nationally recognized brand in Argentina. 100% of the products are made with at least 80% recycled materials, making Martha a Certified B-Corporation. Fabrics and other components such as hat brims, are made of recycled polyester returned from pre- and post-consumer plastic.

Please talk us through any interesting events running alongside the show.
Keeping with the surf hardgoods theme, the 2023 Florida Shape Off at Surf Expo will be in honour of Bill “Holmesy” Holmes. The shape off is an annual surfboard shaping contest and exhibition that promotes the craft of by-hand surfboard shaping. Holmes was a well-known shaper in South Florida with a top-notch surf team at a time when that area did not boast a lot of influential shapers. The total prize purse for this year’s Florida Shape Off is $3,500, with the overall winner netting $2,000 in addition to a Surf Expo booth at an upcoming show.

Surf Expo will also host daily happy hours, seminars, industry talks, fashion shows, and onsite networking opportunities. To see the full schedule of events, click here.

Any Covid regulations still to be adhered to and if so, what?
Surf Expo is excited to welcome our retailers and vendors January 4-6, 2023, to Orlando. Our team is committed to creating an event experience where our customers, partners, and employees can safely and effectively conduct business. The health and safety of our customers, team members, and communities is our number one priority.

Surf Expo continues to follow all CDC, state, city, and building guidelines for our event, which do not require vaccine checks and/or negative COVID tests at this time. The Orange County Convention Center is among the safest venues in the country. It has achieved Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) accreditation, meaning it follows the highest standards for cleaning and sanitisation.

Why is it important for European retailers to attend?
Surf Expo is the world’s premier watersports and beach lifestyle tradeshow, and it remains the only event dedicated to the board sports industry. As a proven must-attend event, international attendees can shop the best selection of heritage and new brands found at Surf Expo, visualise the trends emerging from both the west coast and east coast surf markets, as well as build and reinforce relationships with brand partners.

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