The Strange Relationship Between Surf and Fashion
Fashion2 Minutes Read

The Strange Relationship Between Surf and Fashion

August 9, 2022 Share

Nobody does carefree and laidback better than a surfer — and fashion houses know this.

So many people drool over a surfer. Perhaps it’s the tan or the active surf lifestyle paired with that carefree aura of somebody who has spent the day riding waves at some magical beach. And then, perhaps, it’s the surf culture fashion.

Everyone sort of know what it entails; distressed t-shirts, board shorts, shell necklaces and that bohemian je ne sais quoi. Prominent in Australia and the beaches of California, the surf style has been emulated by high fashion brands for years, never quite getting it as right as the real thing. But why, exactly, are brands like Saint Laurent or Prada looking into these easy-going blonde-haired outcasts for inspiration?

Image courtesy of Saint Laurent

The answer is relatively simple; surfers achieve what high luxury brands can only aspire when it comes to underground countercultures and anti-establishment. Whilst a surfer down at Huntington Beach might not be aware of this, runways in Paris and Milan dedicate hours of design and curation to look half as cool as they do.

Fashion’s best venture into surf culture (and certainly the most successful) came with Hollister’s boom in the 2000s. The brand popularised the “just-came-from-a-surf” look so much that people would drive hours in the mainland to wait in line to take a photograph with a topless twenty-something year old who did not, as a matter of fact, look like he had surfed a day in his life.

Image courtesy of Creative Boom

A more recent reference to surf culture comes from DSQUARED2’s menswear runway for SS23. Dressed in baggy clothes, reggae tunes, flip-flips and board shorts. The collection was not exactly subtle in its references; models even wore coloured sunscreen (used primarily by surfers due to their high levels of protection) for some of the looks.

Less recent references however include moments such as Raf Simon’s second ever runway, “Black Palms” from Spring 1998, which featured topless models with black painted palm trees on their backs. A collection which, we dare say, has become iconic for its representation of punk-ness and anti-establishment sentiment. Another one was Louis Vuitton‘s Spring 2018 menswear pop-up on Madison Avenue, featuring surfboards, palm trees, pattern overloads and sliders.

Image courtesy of AnOther Magazine

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Author: Laura Scalco
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