Surfwear catches a new wave, but keeps the classic plaid
Traditionally, surfers have had a pretty chill attitude toward fashion. And for many, the standard-issue uniform (flip-flops, long shorts, hoodie, and/or plaid shirt) still does the trick. In fact, being label-conscious or putting any effort into their offshore wardrobe would go against their Dogtown ethos.
But not all surfers are old-school beach bums (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Some have jobs, really well paying jobs, and appreciate the finer things in life. We’re talking about shredders who have never listened, and will never listen, to the Surf Punks. No tailgate keggers for this set. Cocktail parties are more their bag. That’s why it was so fitting for Smooth Co. to launch its latest line of “aristocratic surf wear” at a hip Holt Renfrew hobnobber. There to help promote the collection was a perfectly scruffy “Justin-Bobby” Brescia of The Hills fame.
Despite selling exclusively through one of Canada’s higher-end department stores, the L.A.–based label boasts a pretty reasonable price point. And the pieces are very versatile. They can be mixed with preppy nautical garb or tossed in with super-casual streetwear. But is that enough to convert stereotypical long-haired dudes who don’t care about making a fashion statement?
“Some of the guys, of course not,” concedes Michelle Mason, marketing and sales manager for Smooth Co., who took a break from the festivities to talk surf wear with the Straight. “But we’re appealing to the guys that do. And the line is really easy. You don’t necessarily have to iron all your shirts; you can throw them on top of each other. It’s also for someone who travels a lot, so all these guys who will go to Bali, will go to Nicaragua to surf. So that’s kind of who we’re targeting. There’s actually a big group of those guys in California.”
Which is where the three-year-old company’s HQ remains and where head designer Tracy Gurdine does some of her best work. This season, Gurdine drew inspiration from ’60s-era Rolling Stones and Andy Warhol (though her iconic Banana Ts won’t be sold in Canada). As Mason points out, there’s even a nod to the King of Cool in this collection: “It’s that whole Steve McQueen kind of guy—just throwing a shawl-collared sweater over his white oxford and looking amazing because it’s a very easy outfit, a very easy look.”
Smooth Co. knows plaid shirts are the cover-up staple for surfers.
It’s true: there’s something very Thomas Crown Affair about the jaunty Smooth Co. fisherman sweater, which comes in marina blue and almond taupe ($175). And you can almost see McQueen cruising around in a dune buggy with Faye Dunaway by his side in Smooth Co.’s Nylon 40 brightly hued short shorts ($75).
As for the bad-boys-of-rock influence, the pop-arty, fashionably effeminate royal-blue narrow chino pants ($125) would fit right in with Mick Jagger’s modish nautical-fashion phase. The same goes for the cutoff sweat top with the kangaroo pockets ($85) and the wide-striped Duke boardies (shorts that go for $75).
In addition to retro nods, Gurdine was sure to include plaids (about $95 to $105), shirts that are a cover-up staple for every surfer—fat cats and broke-ass bums alike.
“Everyone keeps wearing them and buying them,” Mason says. “I’m actually quite surprised by that. I mean, our flannels and plaids have been doing very well”¦so we’re just gonna keep going with it.”
Ahh, it’s good to know some things never change.