At the same time, retailers aren't going to give their space away. In return for precious square footage, merchants will expect some benefits, Noble said. Manufacturers will have to ensure that shelves are stocked with the latest merchandise and that the retailer doesn't have to absorb the entire cost if a given line doesn't sell.
"There's a realization by both the manufacturer and the retailer that they've both got to work closer together to be a success," Cherbak of Deloitte & Touche said. "It's definitely got to be a two-way street."
Some in the surf-wear industry question whether manufacturers should venture into the retail end of the business at all.
Company stores "are obviously a growing trend," said an Orange County surf-wear executive who asked not to be identified. But companies can't automatically increase their sales, the executive said, just by opening their own stores:
"The public will determine if the demand is there."
The Boutique Approach
A number of clothing makers, including these based in Orange County, are rethinking how their products are displayed and sold:
Quiksilver, which last year opened a small boutique in Hawaii, has plans this summer for a 3,100-square-foot, free-standing store in Santa Cruz. The company, based in Costa Mesa, plans additional stores in Chicago, New York, Miami, St. Louis, Kansas City, Portland, Ore., and Colorado. They will be owned by third-party retailers, but Quiksilver will handle a good portion of the marketing and merchandising.