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Question: Custom Wetsuits

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 2 Sep 2011 22:50 UTCFri 2 Sep 2011 - 10:50 pm UTC 

How big is the custom wetsuit market in regards to annual sales per year? (My interest lies in surfing wetsuits but feel free to elaborate on other market niches if you so happen to stumble on it)

Is this market increasing or decreasing from a year to year basis?

What are the existing sales channels for this? (EG. local shops, online retailers, big box retailers, etc)

Who are the biggest players in this space right now?


David Sarokin 


 3 Sep 2011 15:03 UTCSat 3 Sep 2011 - 3:03 pm UTC 

I just want to let you know that I had a look for market information, but came up empty-handed thus far.

If anything turns up, we'll be sure to let you know.





 14 Sep 2011 04:19 UTCWed 14 Sep 2011 - 4:19 am UTC 

Wetsuit Market

According to recent stats provided by SIMA, Surfing Industry Manufacturing Association, wetsuit sales was $110.4 million in 2010. In comparison, total sales for the industry was close to $6.24 Billion making wetsuit a small segment in the overall sector (Ref 1). Note that these sales statistics are for US market only. Interestingly, I have also come across a few publications that have reported these stats as global sales figure. The reason for such errors may be the fact that SIMA seems to be the only such association, which frequently publishes these stats.

Nevertheless, an earlier 2006 related study on global surfwear and surf-inspired clothing indicated that the industry is worth $13 billion (Ref 2). It also suggested that the overall size of the industry may be difficult to access due to variations in definitions.

Market Growth

Due to ongoing recession, sales of swimwear have taken a plunge but wetsuit market has shown resilience. For example, SIMA annual sales figures for the industry are:

$6.52 Billion in 2004
$7.48 Billion in 2006
$7.22 Billion in 2008
$6.24 Billion in 2010

Despite the decrease in overall sales, wetsuit market has gained almost 25%. According to the statement by SIMA, "Wetsuit sales increased to $110.4 million in 2010 (24.5% over 2008)." [Ref 1]

This sales slump seems temporary and swimwear market is already showing signs of resurgence. SIMA also stated that, "retailers are already on the upswing from the downturn and are optimistic about the future. According to Sean Smith, SIMA Executive Director, "The good news among remaining core board sports retailers is that their opportunity is perhaps greater than ever,".

GIA research indicates that swimwear and beachwear market is going to expand further. According to GIA, the industry will reach $17 billion mark in 2017. They propose that existing lifestyle will propel such a growth. (Ref 3)

Furthermore, a look at the recent earning reports of major swimsuit retailers/manufacturers verifies that the growth is not stagnant.

Market Leaders/Biggest Players

According to a 2002 study, Quicksilver was the undisputed leader in wetsuit marketshare. (Ref 4) The report was published in Australian Weekend Magazine. I am not sure if it was global or just Australian marketshare. Here are 2002 numbers, followed by present situation.

Quiksilver 37% $A1.5 billion
O’Neill 14% $A600 million
Ocean Pacific 9 % $A400 million
Billabong 9 % $A380 million
Rip Curl 8 % $A300 million
Oxbow 3 % $A120 million
Rusty 3 % $A100 million
Volcom 3 % $A100 million
Hurley 2 % $A80 million
Mambo 2 % $A70 million


The wetsuit industry is dominated by three types of companies. Companies like QuickSilver and Billabong deal in a variety of swimwear clothing. Therefore, their size helps them dominate swimsuit market in many regions around the world. In contrast, companies like O’Neill and Body Glove specialize in wetsuit and closely related swimwear. Similarly, companies such as Rip Curl can qualify as competitors in both segments. Therefore, these five companies can be classified as market leaders in wetsuit category (Ref 5,8,2). Their brand name and annual revenue puts them ahead of the other companies in this niche.

Body Glove
Rip Curl

Existing Sales Channels

Body Glove

Specialized suits for surfers are only sold in surf shops. Other general purpose wetsuits are sold to general purpose sporting goods shops (Ref 5).


In Japan, "Planned distribution channels include roadside stores under Nikki’s direct operation, department stores, general sports chains, surf shops, casual wear stores, fashion retailers (select shops) and online stores. Nikki plans to open 15 stores in the next five years, including two direct-run stores, eight booths within general sports chains and surf shops, and five outlet stores."(Ref 6)


Products are sold in 2,500 retail outlets. The products are only sold in specialty surf and skate shops. Billabong usually avoids departmental stores and discount outlets. In some cases, it has setup company owned outlets.


QuickSilver wetsuits are quite popular but they still represent a small portion of the overall sales. "Like many sporting goods companies, most of Quicksilver’s sports apparel and equipment are sold in specialty stores and sports shops, which account for over three quarters of revenue. Included in this number are some 500 stores that Quicksilver either owns or with which it maintains licensing arrangements. The company distributes casual apparel through Macy’s, Dillard's, and Bloomingdales department stores, which account for about a tenth of revenue."

Core market shops - 39% of revenue
Specialty stores - 37% of revenue
Department stores - 10% of revenue
US exports - 9% of revenue
Distributors - 5% of revenue

Rip Curl

Rip Curl products are sold through traditional brick-and-mortar channels. Most of 1,500 stores are located in USA. Rip Curl also runs 11 company owned stores and 4 outlets.


Ref 1: http://www.sima.com/news-information/news-detail/id/108.aspx

Ref 2: http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c47223

Ref 3: http://www.prweb.com/releases/swimwear/beachwear/prweb3615714.htm

Ref 4: http://www98.griffith.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/10072/20872/1/51368_1.pdf

Ref 5: http://surf.transworld.net/1000004023/features/body-glove-the-past-through-tomorrow/

Ref 6: http://www.itochu.co.jp/en/news/2010/100906_02.html

Ref 7: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/34594642/Billabong-Case-Study

Ref 8: http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Quiksilver_%28ZQK%29

Ref 9: http://www.ocbj.com/news/2011/jun/19/reworked-rip-curl-focus-expanding-clothes



Refund requested

 26 Sep 2011 21:58 UTCMon 26 Sep 2011 - 9:58 pm UTC 

The question was about custom wetsuits, not wetsuits in general.

Thanks for your time on this nonetheless.


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