Hurley Acquired by Bluestar Alliance

Nike Inc. announced that it has sold the Costa Mesa, Calif.–headquartered Hurley International to Bluestar Alliance LLC for an undisclosed sum.

Hurley’s new owners plan to look for increased licensing opportunities for the brand, said Joey Gabbay, Bluestar’s chief executive officer. “This is a transformative acquisition for Bluestar as Hurley’s international footprint will enhance Bluestar’s reach around the world,” he said in a statement.

“We look forward to building upon the existing Hurley network and expanding to additional countries with the deep relationships that already exist within the Bluestar portfolio of brands,” he said. “We see Hurley continuing to evolve into a 360-degree lifestyle brand with action sports playing a key role.”

Bluestar is a brand management company based in New York City. Its family of brands includes Bebe, Tahari, Kensie, Limited Too, Brookstone, Nanette Lepore, Catherine Malandrino, Joan Vass and English Laundry. On Oct. 30, B. Riley Financial announced that it would join Bluestar as an investor in the Hurley brand. The Los Angeles–headquartered B. Riley announced that it had established a brand-investment portfolio and would hold the majority ownership of the assets and intellectual property of Catherine Malandrino, English Laundry, Joan Vass, Kensie Girl, Limited Too and Nanette Lepore.

The sale ends Hurley’s 17-year run at the footwear-and-apparel giant. Nike acquired the influential action-sports brand for an undisclosed amount in 2002 but had been investigating a sale of Hurley since July.

Bob Hurley, the founder of his self-named brand, was considered a pioneer in action-sports styles. Before starting a clothing business, he worked as an innovative surfboard shaper. In 1983, he acquired the U.S. rights to the Australian surf brand Billabong. After guiding Billabong to domestic popularity, he started Hurley International in 1999. It became noteworthy for working with popular rock bands such as Blink-182 to change the perception of the label into a lifestyle brand, according to media reports. Hurley also created a high profile in the surf world for sponsoring surf competitions. From 2009 to 2012 it was the major sponsor of the U.S. Open of Surfing. Since 2013, Vans has served as the major sponsor.

The Hurley deal has similarities to Kering’s sale of the action-sports and lifestyle brand Volcom, said Greg Weisman, an attorney with Ritholz Levy Fields LLP, who works with action-sports brands. He said that Nike’s support and sponsorship of surf competitions was appreciated by the wider surfing community, but Nike’s relationship with Hurley never entirely fit. Most surfers ride boards barefoot. Unlike skateboarding, there is no technical footwear made for the sport.

“I hope the new buyer keeps all of the interesting and creative people that made up the DNA of Hurley,” Weisman said. “But multi-brand houses like Iconix and Bluestar may be looking to cut overhead. Time will tell.”

Hurley also made a splash with the design of its performance boardshort, the Phantom and has worked on and sold collaboration lines such as Hurley x Carhartt. The collection with the workwear brand Carhartt was released recently.