There’s no doubt that the fashion side of Fox Racing is an ever-growing portion of their empire. All you have to do is open your mailbox and heft out one of their new seasonal catalogs to figure that out.
But if you needed any further confirmation, we can offer up a couple items. The first is their satellite office in Orange County, which is smack dab in the middle of surfwear central. According to Fox’s Warren Johnson, “It’s right down the street from Volcom, Quicksilver’s close by, and you’ve also got Billabong and Hurley in the same area. It’s definitely the hub of what takes place fashion-wise. Our marketing department has also relocated from Morgan Hill to Newport Beach, and we have some of our motocross designers there, along with our denim design team and what we call our junior’s line. Lastly, t-shirt design is also done there. We’ve got quite a crew, and we’re actually already outgrowing our office. It’s a great group of people. There’s that great synergy of being around a mix of marketing and design and product development. Being based in Newport Beach, close to the ocean and the fresh air...it’s a blast.”
If you needed any further evidence of the importance of fashion to the Fox brand, you’d have to look no further than their two new offerings, in the areas of footwear and eyewear. As Warren explains it, “Fashion’s another way where people can show their lifestyle and interests beyond what the actual activity is. So it was a natural progression for us, being an innovative design-driven company to move into footwear and also into eyewear.”
It was announced last year that Fox and Oakley had entered an agreement to produce Fox eyewear, and the first fruits of that collaboration are hitting the shelves now. Warren told us, “The two brands have been friends for a long time. We’ve shared many of the same athletes, and tremendous respect for each other. We have a unique relationship where Oakley actually produces the eyewear for us, and we utilize their technology, but Fox designs them. The consumer gets the best of both worlds, the style and fashion forward design that’s associated with the Fox brand, and the utmost in lens optical quality through Oakley’s proven technology, and competitive price points.”
Obviously Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart have both long been sponsored by Oakley, but don’t look for a battle between the brands over the use of the athletes. “Our focus with eyewear and our whole eyewear program is not so much to utilize all our athletes as a sounding board for product exposure or endorsements.”
Prices on the glasses range from $90, to $130, and there are two different styles of polarized lenses on two of the models, which boost them above the $150 mark. The eyewear will be found in Fox dealers and specialty retail stores.
So will Fox also share in Oakley’s goggle technology in the future? “There are goggle products in the works, and we really look forward to having that. They’ll be in the 2006 product line.”
For nearly forever, the standard footwear of choice for much of the motorcycle industry has been skate shoes, though styling on Fox’s six models of shoes falls well outside that category. Warren explains, “When we studied the action sports market, skate shoes were dominant, and we identified a growing styling trend where shoes were slimming down to more of a running silhouette. Couple that with our athletes training demands, and they don’t use skate shoes to train in. We combined both needs together, and found an opportunity that exists within the marketplace. We’re a product-driven company, so we didn’t just produce a shoe that looked pretty and we’re selling it. There’s been a lot of time spent in the development process with Todd Covey and Chip Jones. It’s something that we’re really proud of, and when consumers get their hands on them, or put their feet in them, we’re excited and confident that they’ll feell good about them as well.”
“One of our leading designers, Chip Jones, who was the key guy on the Forma Pro boot development, spent 15 or 16 years at Adidas. He was so excited to be able to bring the shoe technology and actually develop the shoe itself. We incorporate a lot of shoe technology in the Forma Pros, and the results speak for themselves. Now he’s able to utilize his design and product development background for shoe development.”
“This is where we came out with our Fall 2005 shoe line. It’s got the athletic drive and styling trends, along with real functionality. In the various styles that we’re coming to market with, there’s a little bit of product there for just about everyone’s needs.”
For the Fall ’05 line, look for six different models, priced from $60 to $90. They’ll be released in June.
We asked Warren for an opinion on how some of these additional lines will blend into traditional motorcycle retailers, and he replied, “Motorcycle dealerships are going through a transformation, kind of like surf shops did about 15 years ago where they’re starting to embrace apparel and clothing much more. In surf shops 15-18 years ago, it was all surfboards and wetsuits, and you found a couple of t-shirts and hats. Now when you go into a surf shop, you have to really hunt for the surfboards and the wetsuits--it’s all about apparel. The consumers have driven the demand for it. They want to be a part of that lifestyle. The proprietors also benefit, because the margins are so much greater on the soft goods. I see motorcycle dealers going through a similar transformation, where it used to be all about bikes and hard parts. Now you see more and more casual wear being introduced.”
“If you think about it, every consumer who walks through that door is a potential customer. Dad who actually rides is bringing the kids with him, and maybe the wife or girlfriend don’t ride, but now they can be shopping and looking through the apparel, and seeing something they want to wear. That dealership has an opportunity to capture that customer and make a sale in more ways than he ever could before.”
Fox Racing, Inc.
18400 Sutter Blvd.
Morgan Hill CA 95037