While in New York for the Quiksilver Pro, I met with Jason Latos, a proud East Coast Surfer and wealth advisor in the finance industry who is starting a new surf apparel brand, Break East.
Jason Latos of NYC, founder of Break East
Jason, 39, said he started the brand because he can never find anything he wants to wear in a surf shop. He’ll go in to look at boards, and walk straight out without buying anything else because everything seems to be targeting a 14-year-old kid or a 50-year-old beach bum, he said.
“Everything screams West Coast, Hawaii, Australia,” he said.
The surfers he knows in the city are more sophisticated, understated and have a city fashion aesthetic. Once you get out of the water, you can’t tell they are surfers, Jason said, and they blend right in to the New York professional world.
“A lot of the guys in the water are trading stocks everyday,” he said.
Break East boardshorts
And they are just as passionate about surfing as surfers on the West Coast, he said. To go surfing, Jason spends $150 to rent a car and then spends one hour and 15 minutes to drive to Long Beach, Long Island or the Jersey Shore.
With the Break East name and by claiming the East Coast, Jason hopes the brand will help to raise the profile of East Coast surfing and improve the image of surfers in the U.S. The brand mantra also has a bit of the New York swagger and takes a swipe at West Coast surf companies.
Jason is investing his personal funds in Break East, and has assembled a team, most with other full time jobs, to help with the project.
While he does not have a background in apparel, a co-worker’s father is a clothing manufacturer in Hong Kong, and he has hired a designer as well.
Break East rash guard
The line launched in June of this year online. Thus far, it consists of two rash guards, Ts, two wovens, a boardshort and a hoodie.
The long sleeve rash guard has a high back and a low neck and hand warmers. The buttons downs are a slimmer fit, and allow the wearer “to look good without trying that hard,” Jason said.
The hoodie features a removable hood.
Price points range from $127 for the wovens, $115 for the hoodie, $35 for Ts, $63 for the boardshort and $43 for the long sleeve rash guard.
As far as distribution, Break East is targeting select surf boutiques, and plans to attend Surf Expo and possibly Agenda in the future. They have shown the line to a few retailers and the reaction has been strong, he said. One store, Skuby Blue in Jersey, a menswear store, is carrying the line and is asking for more product, Jason said.
Break East woven
On Thursday, Break East and Surfrider are unveiling a T-shirt designed by Break East to benefit the NYC chapter of Surfrider at an event at The Bowery Hotel in New York.
The Quiksilver Pro shined a great spotlight on East Coast surfing, and Jason hopes Break East will also help to raise the profile of the sport in the region in the future.
Then maybe it won’t be so common to hear the refrain that Jason often hears when people find out he lives in New York City and surfs: “No way – you surf over there?”