Surf Summit focuses on the sector’s eco-responsible needs

Surf Summit focuses on the sector’s eco-responsible needs

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Innovate, envision new business models and rethink uses. The surfing industry has the capacity to initiate change, particularly through some new start-ups. The young start-up SeaAtlantic


But while start-ups often have an environmental component in their projects, the surfing industry, from equipment to clothing, has, according to many sector leaders, been late to the party on the issues of transforming practices to improve their environmental and social impact.

In this respect, the second day of the Surf Summit organised on October 13-14 by Eurosima, went into detail on how to transform the business models of the economic players, but also provided serious food for thought on the levers to activate. 

First was David Salas y Melia’s presentation. A climate researcher at the National Centre for Meteorological Research, he deciphered the conclusions of the various International PanelChange

Experts and entrepreneurs committed to change

To initiate these transformations, which are presented as unavoidable and which may appear radical to decision-makers in already well-established organisations, the Surf Summit brought together experts and entrepreneurs committed to change. Aude Penouty, founder of Entada Textile, a consultancy firm specialising in circular economy issues in the textile industry, began by setting the context with a motivating moto: “change is a journey and the journey, if well prepared, is exhilarating”. 

She began by pointing out that millions of tonnes of clothing are put on the market in Europe: 8.7 million by 2020. Products for which an ecological approach to design, composition and end of life are rarely thought through. But the speaker also tackled industry behaviour: the programmed obsolescence of certain products, the creation of “green” lines that complement the collections, the use of recycled polyester that ticks off the eco-responsible box.


Consolidating supplier relationships (or even partnerships), traceability, transparency and even relocation are challenges for decision-makers. But for brands, not taking action probably exposes them more. “When you see a player like H&MCamaïeu recently. The Gorpore trend, which is to apply the codes of outdoor to the city, with collaborations between luxury brands and outdoor brands, or a brand like AigleParis Fashion Week

Searching for ones place requires a socially and environmentally responsible approach

For a brand, finding its place requires a socially and environmentally responsible approach. With the ambition to reduce their impact, brands can become involved in the development of a more circular business model. The good news, according to Aude Penouty, is that even if “the perfect material and the ideal production process do not exist”, decision-makers are not alone in initiating their change. They can rely on institutional players such as Ademe, ReFashion, sectoral federations such as the European Fashion Alliance that was created this summer, NGOs like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation or even on their peers.

On the Surf Summit stage on Friday, Patagonia

Aude Penouty points out that it is in the best interest of brands to move forward on these issues, especially seeing as the vast majority of their environmental impact is in the production and transformation of materials. “We need to put performance indicators in place on the transparency of sourcing, the quality of materials, the proximity of production or eco-design and recycling. The law will help companies on these points by setting frameworks,” she says.


From 2023, the Agec law will require brands to provide information on the composition, origin and recyclability of new fashion and sports items, excluding jewellery and leather goods with an environmental label. But companies caught in the act of greenwashing may also be fined.

Introducing more circularity while remaining aware of economic imperatives

Above all, consumers, but also company ambassadors and employees, are increasingly sensitive to these issues. “We need to be able to move from the Love brand, which consumers follow for its products, to the Care brand, which they cherish because they trust it and share its commitments. And for the director, the voluntary involvement of managers is essential to initiate these changes, whether they are general managers or, even more importantly, middle managers in companies. They are the ones who will be able to initiate or apply the transformations of the model to introduce more circularity. And this, while remaining aware of the economic imperatives. But by having to control the end-of-life of their products, brands are faced with new challenges. They will have to develop recyclability, repairability and promote the reuse of their products.

Ludovic Quinault, at the time head of the SKFK brand (formerly Skunkfunk), which had been working on the labelling of its material sourcing since the early 2000s, set up a rental solution in 2019. “We are all confronted with overstock, even if we are ethical and sustainable. The existing solution is sales and then destocking, and clearly this is a drop in value and a drop in the image of the brand. As a manager, we ask ourselves: why produce if they only wear a garment for a week or three weeks? Why produce more when there are so many products available? Renting is interesting because for the consumer the product will have maximum utility. The idea is to rent a wardrobe in the form of a subscription, which allows for stock optimisation. The cost of the product is fixed, so the more rental cycles we have, the more profitable it is… and the higher the quality of our products, the more cycles we can achieve. It’s a win-win situation. And I would like to point out that when we launched it, we had to pay back large loans, so it had to be rational. But four years later, the system is still there and has helped us gain new customers and generate additional traffic online and in shops.

These changes take time. Skunkfunk had been working on the quality of its sourcing for a long time, while Oxbow

The Chanvres de l’Atlantique company, launched by Vincent and Jenny Lartizien in 2016, must constantly try to convince partners and the industry of the feasibility and interest of using this material from a plant that consumes little water and grows in France. To convince people, they developed their own brand. Named Nunti Sunya, the label avoids mixing materials and thinks about recycling from the product design stage, notably with finishing elements that do not alter the recycling chains.

For established brands, changing day-to-day practices is an important exercise. But in the end, it must allow the brand and its teams to be valued and to find profitable business models that are less polluting.

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