BRIXTON'S NEW COURSE
Brixton Charts a New Course With a Bricks-and-Mortar and New Lines
After some 16 years in business, Brixton, headquartered in Oceanside, Calif., is going for a rebrand. The label with roots in action sports will unveil its new outlook with a bricks-and-mortar store in Encinitas, Calif., a town known for its surf shops such as the pioneering core board shop Hansen Surfboards.
In mid to late September, Brixton is scheduled to open a 1,000-square-foot retail location in the beachside town, said Davide Mattucci, vice president of brand marketing, who joined the label in June 2019. The shop will be the brand’s first U.S. bricks-and-mortar store. It opened an Australian bricks-and-mortar store in 2019. Brixton will continue to be wholesaled to core surf-and-skate shops as well as larger specialty shops such as Zumiez and Tilly’s and department stores such as Nordstrom,Mattucci said. It will also continue retailing on its direct-to-consumer site, brixton.com.
“It’s the beginning of a next chapter for this business. We’re unveiling product from a new leadership,” Mattucci said. “Brixton’s key focus is to ensure we keep a strong connection with our existing retail partners and longtime consumers. Our goal is to delight them in new ways while inviting people who are less familiar with our brand to experience the next chapter in our story.”
Mattucci said that the brand’s owner, private-equity firm Altamont Capital Partners, which acquired the company in 2014, and the new chief executive officer, Raphael Peck, who joined the company in 2019, were looking for ways to further develop the brand.
“From a strictly business point of view, Altamont saw explosive growth from 2014 to 2017. Then there was a plateau. They asked, ‘Where do we go from here?’” Mattucci said. “We’re not turning our back on our roots. We do a lot of business in skate and surf. Skate and surf is undoubtedly a critically important component of our business. But this business will venture into the lifestyle space.”
The bricks-and-mortar boutique will offer a focus on the brand’s origins. In 2004, Brixton made a splash in the action-sports market by selling fedora hats and snap caps, an alternative to the baseball caps and beanies that action-sports brands were offering.
Greg Weisman, an attorney for Ritholz Levy Fields LLP and a veteran observer of the surfwear industry who has represented many of its top brands for the past 25 years, though not Brixton, said that the brand was embraced by the action-sports community because its founder, David Stoddard, was doing something different. “When Brixton burst onto the scene, they were able to differentiate themselves with a signature product,” Weisman said. “They weren’t making board shorts, T-shirts and wet suits. They were making new products, and it was welcomed as such.”
Just as Brixton focused on headwear in its early years, the upcoming Brixton boutique will offer hat-customization services, Mattucci said. “It will give people a one-on-one feel with the brand,” he said.
The store also will feature all of Brixton’s styles, which includes hats, flannel shirts and bottoms with a workwear inspiration from Americana looks.
The upcoming boutique also will devote space to the brand’s lines, including fresh pieces that it’s scheduled to introduce in the fall. They include Crossover, a men’s technical collection, and Reserve, an elevated version of the brand’s workwear and Americana looks.
Some of the styles for Crossover will feature Brixton’s Bowery flannel shirts, a long-sleeve, plaid flannel shirt with a weave in the fabric that will move more with the wearer. The Crossover line will feature the brand’s workwear-inspired chino pants with stretch fabric.
The Reserve line will feature higher-end fabrics such as domestically made fleece, which, Mattucci said, will be so durable that the brand felt comfortable offering a lifetime guarantee on it.
“This piece is made in the U.S.A., and it is a halo setter for the collection,” he said. “The hoodie and a crew-neck sweatshirt will illustrate where the brand is going. A lot of people think Brixton is a snapback brand that you see in surf shops. If you see the breadth of what we’re offering, this is an eye opener.”
Both Mattucci and Peck come from athleticwear backgrounds. Before helming Brixton, Peck served as president of the sports-licensing business Fanatics Inc. He also served as a high-level executive in merchandising and product development for companies such as Oakley, Under Armour and Adidas. Mattucci also worked in marketing and other executive positions at Under Armour and Adidas. Peck saw a consumer demand for clothes with technical aspects, Mattucci said.
“People want classic styles that are great looking. But there is an expectation that everything they wear needs to stretch and needs to wick moisture,” Mattucci said. “We’re never going to be a brand that makes compression gear. But there’s a new consumer expression that we’re going to satisfy in a Brixton way. Crossover is really the purest expression of that transformation.”
Along with a fresh retail start, the brand also has been exploring sustainability, such as the use of recycled fibers and hemp in its apparel and headwear.
Also coming up, Brixton’s first major pop-culture collaboration line, Brixton x Strummer. It is a collaboration with the estate of Joe Strummer, the late frontman of the pioneering punk-rock band The Clash.
This line has special meaning for the brand. Stoddard named his company after The Clash song “Guns of Brixton.” Mattucci said that Brixton designers were granted unusual access to Strummer’s memorabilia.
“Joe kept everything—set lists, hand-drawn doodles,” Mattucci said. “They pulled items out of Strummer’s closet to re-create some of his most iconic pieces.”
Looks will include fisherman caps that feature Strummer’s sketches in the lining. The collection will also include T-shirts and hoodies bearing graphics with words from Strummer’s anthemic song, “Know Your Rights.”
“As we head into a tumultuous election season, we think that some of the pieces in the collection will resonate because of the social and political climate,” Mattucci said.
Photos courtesy of Brixton.