Billabong, a brand name of a line of clothing that literally means “small lake”, focuses mainly on the surfing lifestyle market. The Billabong Shop has been a haven for a number of water sport enthusiasts, who find their clothing a real treat to accommodate their extreme activities.
Well, technically, “billabong” is a coined name of two root words: billa and bong. Billa stands for “creek or river”. Bong means “death”. Put the terms together and it means “Dead River”. Billabong means a water area part of a river that is not running. That sounds of ironic, right? How can a term for “dead water” be related to the Billabong Surf Shop? Is it not surfing involves moving waves?
The Billabong Shorts creator, Gordon Merchant, did one thing for sure. He worked in his little factory, which will later become the renowned Billabong Shop, making handmade board shorts with his wife, Rena. He was not that good in sewing to begin with. All he was thinking was how he could make money to pay for his rent and buy a house. His initial job was shaping boards while his friend, a man named Tommy Moses, was doing great in his clothing business. Thus, he also came up with a similar idea. He met up with Rena, who was a good at crocheting bikinis, and they started the board shorts making. Gordon did the cutting; Rena did the sewing. They sold the unlabeled shorts in their little Billabong Shop, which was just an unnamed, little factory back then, and also distributed the finished merchandise personally in several surf shops on a Friday.
So, what about the name, Billabong Shorts? Okay, we are getting there. As expected, the unlabeled shorts were doing well in stores. People were then asking him the name of his manufactured shorts. Gordon asked a young boy named Cabbage, his surfboard sanding apprentice on what name will he call the shorts. The boy said, Billabong. Gordon thought it is sounded like Australia and he stuck to it. Unknowingly it will also be the name of their shop, Billabong Shop. It was 1973 then, so Gordon included “Since 1973” under his new brand name, “Billabong”.
The brand made its way to being recognized as a symbol of Australian surfing. Gordon’s triple stitches were a hit for his durable Billabong shorts. In the 1980’s, the name began to emerge in North America. Then it traveled to other nations such as New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and Europe. A lot of surfing enthusiasts found their merchandise to be of topnotch quality. The Billabong Shop further expanded to Asia and other territories. The Billabong shop online was established, making it more internationally well known. Billabong shop was not selling just the board shorts. It also sold other types of swimwear, footwear, eyewear and other articles and accessories. Many girls shop Billabong girl’s swimwear, while many boys shop for Billabong shorts.
It is the name, design and quality that they adored. The brand clothing industry bows down to Billabong’s story of success.