Ever since Bobby Abdel at Jack's Surfboards in Huntington Beach told me that Surfer Magazine shirts were selling well, I wanted to find out the story behind the brand.
Jeff Bull, brand director, happened to get in touch with me this week and now I know the scoop. He answered some questions via email.
Surfer Magazine worked with their parent company to license their brand to an apparel expert, TS2. (TS2 is an umbrella company - lots of smaller brands under it).
TS2 then brought in myself, Ron Yoshida (brought T&C to mainland, co-founder of Hawaiian Island Creations), and Elizabeth Busby. Liz and I are from Oregon, Ron lives in Irvine. We've had an awesome working relationship with Rick Irons at Surfer and the team at Source Interlink, their parent company. Rick has had a lot to do with the line's look and feel.
Liz handles the shops and the reps. She's had a big hand in the apparel as well.
We've done Surf Expo twice now and also enjoyed a really successful September ASR in the Goldbox area.
Right now the line includes tees, headwear, fleece, thermals and towels. We also did a poster collection that has been a huge hit with most every surf shop we've been in front of. For Spring 08 we're rolling out boardshorts, boys sizes 8-20, women's tees, and some boutique full panel tees.
TS2 has made it possible to assemble a killer team of designers. Guys who have been in the biz designing for some of the biggest surf brands have been touching the stuff - as well as some younger artists.
Absolutely. That's what makes this line so special, in my opinion. While most companies are trying to "create" authenticity, we're able to sample Surfer's awesome heritage and original imagery. We feature mostly covers, but we've also been utilizing a lot of Ron Stoner's photography as well. Stoner worked for Surfer in the 60's and early 70's, then left all his prints and film at the mag's offices.
We've seen the cover shirts really move well. As mentioned, the posters have been doing great. We decided to make them on Styrene (a thick plastic material) so they'd last longer and be more collectible. They're huge too! (45 x 32 inches) Towels have also been doing well for us at the core surf level.
The main goal is to get the Mag to translate as an apparel brand. But first and foremost, we'd like to see Surfer really flourish at the shop level. Ron and I believe in the brand's ability to be successful as an apparel line at the core level, and TS2 has really helped make that a reality. We've tested with some larger retailers like Urban Outfitters and Chick's Sporting Goods - and while we'd like to see Surfer succeed at different levels, the shops can really stabilize the brand and lay a foundation as an apparel line. Personally, I'm excited to be a part of a surf brand that's truly SURF.
Another thing that we're psyched about is that we don't see this as a brand that competes directly with other brands. In fact, we're excited to collaborate with other brands and their riders - old and new Surfer covers and art alike.
There's a ton of great brands out there, and it seems like everything has been done. But Surfer is different in that regard - It's totally authentic and truly original.