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Which Non-Shoe Brand Has Sponsored Fanning, Dorian, And Machado From The ’90s To Today?

30 years of excellence.

elsewhere // Aug 9, 2023
Words by Alistair Klinkenberg
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Heritage trumps marketing every time, and Dragon is celebrating 30 years in the game by gently reminding everyone that they’ve been here the whole damn time.

I’ll never forget that black Dragon decal stuck on the speckley purple boot of a Holden Commodore parked in a non-descript Australian coastal town shopping mall. Circa early 2000s.

The black on purple was so stealth, as if signalling that the pilot was a member of some secret club. And I like to imagine that the boot was filled with a fresh pile of 6’3 Gunther Rohns (or one of the other 8,000 iconic east coast shapers), but that might be taking the nostalgia a little too far.

Dragon has entered the vintage 90s eyewear chat.

I also remember one of the first times I ever smelt marijuana. On a gondola in Switzerland, smoke spilling from a joint being passed around a group of swagged-out snowboarders. The giggliest of the trio hiding his bloodshot eyes behind giant Dragon iridium lenses, black pixilated logo on a white strap.

Many long years have passed since those heady action sports industry days, many cheques have been cashed and many a roller-door rolled down permanently, but Dragon remains. As they have done for exactly 30 years. So it’s apt that we celebrate that legacy with a trip down memory lane.

I’m gunna jibe out on a limb and suggest that Dragon don’t get the respect that their heritage deserves in our world. Sure there were the Owen Wright welding goggles years, but the late 2000s were a confusing time for all of us. If you look at the long term roster – Mick, Shano, MOB – it’s a who’s who of timeless surfers. Meaningful surfers who represent different things to different people, depending on your age. Like that sticker on the Commodore, us 90s babies can’t help but associate them with surfing’s early noughties salad days. Word association game? Machado – Drifting (not er). Shane Dorian – The Blueprint. Mick Fanning? 3 Degrees. Just me? And Dragon’s been riding shotgun throughout all of it.

Thirty years of Dragon is made especially significant due to the passing of founder Will Howard earlier this year. Will’s is a quintessential backyard (or garage, in this case) operation done good, with Dragon born in Capo Beach, California in ’93 out of Wills love of the surf and the snow. His baby subsequently riding the peaks and troughs of the surfing and snow industries until today. And if that’s not worth celebrating then we don’t know what is. So to mark this momentous occasion Dragon have re-released a classic in the Box (coming soon to Inside Tag) and given our lord and saviour MOB (aka Dragon lifer Rob Machado) a new range of signature lenses.

The re-issued Box well deserves a closer a look; nothing beats a heavy set of hinges.

Rob’s in the pantheon of surfing greats that can quite literally make anything look good, and his range of shades reflects the longevity of the man and how many styles have come and gone and come again on his watch. There’s a nod to the classic Wayfarer with The Bishop, some boxy 2000s energy with The Jam; in short, if whatever your flavour, Rob’s got you covered.

As a final epitaph, it must be nice for those who knew Will Howard to sit back and appreciate the symmetry of the year of his passing coinciding with 30 years of his company. The fact that the celebratory Box re-issue comes ready made into a streetwear world that’s gagging for throwback sunglasses, further cements his legacy.

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