MMB Climbs Aboard for Fortune’s Surfwear Launch

Surfing’s hot, and Fortune Fashion Industries hopes to capitalize on the trend with the launch of two surfwear brands that will be backed by advertising from McCarthy Mambro Bertino.

Los Angeles-based Fortune selected MMB last week for the $2 million account following a review. It is the private-label company’s first foray into branded consumer wear and the first account win for the 1-year-old Los Angeles office of MMB, which is based in Boston.

Fortune Fashion manufactures clothing for companies such as Disney, Fila, Reebok and Planet Hollywood. The new labels, Rietveld and Sea Angel, will compete with brands such as Quicksilver and Roxy. Well-known West Coast surf artist Rick Rietveld co-founded Rietveld and Sea Angel in 1995, and Fortune Fashion acquired the rights to them last year.

The scope of MMB’s work has yet to be determined. The shop is creating a brand- definition project for both lines. The first work will likely debut in the fall, although the agency will do some grassroots efforts before that.

The timing is right for entering the surf-wear market, experts said. “Surfing is a very popular sport, and there’s clearly a market for [surfwear],” said Kurt Barnard, president of the Retail Forecasting Group in Upper Montclair, N.J. “I don’t believe [the new brands] have many competitors. It’s strictly a niche market, [and] if it’s properly addressed and approached, they can be very successful.”

Surfing’s popularity has jumped considerably among young women. Last year’s girl- power surfing movie Blue Crush, The WB’s reality series Boarding House: North Shore and MTV’s Surf Girls have all helped bring the sport into the mainstream, according to Barbara Coulon, vp of trends at Youth Intelligence in New York.

“I definitely think it’s on the way up,” she said. “It’s sort of an aspirational lifestyle. And there’s also been a revival of [surfing] brands, like OP and Hang Ten.”

Fortune Fashion selected the Boston shop because of its breadth of experience and enthusiasm for the business, said Samantha Litman, client director of business development. “We’re really excited—we’re new to this, and we see this as a big future for us, and we want to grow with [the agency].”

“From a category standpoint, surf clothing and surfing is a cool area for the agency to play in,” said John McGonigle, general manager at MMB, Los Angeles. “Also, both lines are blank slates from a brand standpoint. Our mission is to define these brands and launch them to the world.”