Going to the beach and, for surfers, hitting those waves, it’s just a style or a way of life, it’s an industry.
And, the industry is big enough to fill a concourse at the Orange County Convention Center.
Last weekend the Surf Expo, self-identified as “the largest and longest running board sports and beach/resort lifestyle trade show in the world,” with over 1,000 exhibitors showcasing their wares.
Surf Expo is bi-annual — the second event will be back in September — and draws buyers from the retail representatives from specialty stores across the globe, along with a parade of industry leaders and media.
Since the show’s purpose is to show off trends for the upcoming season, the trade-only event is not open to the public, aside from the few media they do court (and boy was the News-Gazette courted this month).
Last weekend’s show featured more than 2,500 booths of apparel and other categories including surf, skate, paddle, bluewater, swim, resort, coastal gift, boutique, souvenir, footwear and performance.
A full line-up of special events, fashion shows — why just show 2019’s trends in bathing suits hanging on a rack when companies like Body Glove can showcase them live in the flesh on a runway every few minutes? — industry awards ceremonies and demonstrations.
So what are you going to see in the sun, on the beach and in the surf in 2019? Here are the discernable trends:
When it comes to women’s swimwear, solid colors are in. While the two-piece bathing suit is about as evolved as it’s going to get, one-piece suits of more fabric (and body coverage) took up rows of booths at the Expo. For the guys, the style is in colorful prints.
You want to show off your style? Do it with your sandals, or your beach towel — what can be printed on one can be printed on the other. Style also stands out in beach bags, which can now be bedazzled or, as outdoor outfitter Dakine showed off, can be a beach bag-slash-backpack-slash-tote bag, available later in 2019.
Nothing says “beach life” — and most of the year the state of Florida is like one big beach — like a stylish pair of sunglasses, and there were dozens of companies showing off brands, styles and colors. Look hard enough in the marketplace and you’ll be able to find your perfect pair of shades.
Can the surfboard get any better? Isn’t it like perfecting the wheel? Surfers would know for sure, but various manufacturers will tell you their boards are better than they ever have been. And, if you get a new board, you’ll need new surf wear, too, right? Again, bold solid colors are the “in” thing.
And while we won’t question what you put in it — we’ll leave that to the beach patrol — you can’t hit the beach without an insulated cup or sports bottle to keep your coffee hot or icy drinks cold. Tumbler makers Yeti and Bevanda have expanded product designs, including customizable ones, fit for a day on the water.