Stab Magazine | Authenticity Exists
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Authenticity Exists

A surf company that has nothing to do with Pro Surfers.

style // Jul 25, 2016
Words by Words
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In culture of any creed there’s a goddamn monstrous elephant in every room: Authenticity. Anything that’s tarred with the brush of being ‘contrived’ is, or should, be blacklisted and rained down upon with furious hatred. But here’s the breaks: The last guy that had a truly original thought was Socrates, or more likely one of his wino pals who was quickly paid off (or shanked) when he realised that Socs pinched his theory. Surfing is the world’s most cynical sport! ‘Alternative’ surfing – if such a thing exists – is the most despised bastion of our beloved hobby, by people who vent their (usually unwanted) opinion online. But, here’s the thing: The surfing faction that encompasses user-friendly equipment, non-fluoro threads that actually make you attractive to women, and trunks that don’t cling to your silhouette, is actually the most authentic. And, a brand who can rebut all cynics until they rest comfortably in their cages, is Rhythm. 

 

 

The whole alt thing is trending right now, and, the smart gents who saw it coming are sitting pretty to capitalise. Rhythm was started in 2003 by Neil Purchase Junior and Jamal Gray and the idea was to represent their love of music, alternative craft and fun, in a surf industry that was completely obsessed with performance. They shook things up, and were soon on track to being contenders. But, as is often the case with things that start to take off, they tried to be too many things to too many people, and in doing so, lost sight of what made them awesome in the first place. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” says Marc Lewellyn, the man currently charged with steering the Riddim ship. 

 

 

 

Rhythm’s sales have nothing to do with pro surfers. Which is an unusual concept. Surfers are usually offered endorsement deals based on their selling potential. At the top end, it’s fairly straightforward. Julian Wilson is paid X mill by Hurley, because they predicted that X mill fans will buy boardshorts because they see Julian slaying on the webcast. Simple. Brands take it a step further when they come out with signature products, like the Mick Fanning Reef sandal. Reef know how much MF’s worth to them, because they got properly fat from the sales of those thongs with the bottle opener (and, so did Mick). With a smaller company like Rhythm, who they choose to sponsor means something a little different. And it aligns perfectly with the brand as a whole. The regional sponsored surfer is not a thing of the past. And by sponsoring people in surf-centric areas who rip and generally represent the brand in a way that’s fitting, they get a little bump in sales – and a big bump in the authenticity of the the brand. “I don’t think our guys even put stickers on their boards,” jokes Marc. “But that kind of plays into our whole deal.” 

 

  

 

“People don’t buy a fish, and then decide that it’s not fun and that they’re going to go back to riding their thruster,” says designer and brand manager, Jacob Byrne. “It just doesn’t happen.” The fact that Neal Purchase Junior is one of the brand founders, and current shaper of perhaps the finest alternative surfing equipment in the game, is another key element to Rhythm. “There’s a bit of a global shift,” Jacob continues. “Even the hi-fi guys like Chilli and DH are really pushing fun boards, and for us, we’re just doing what we set out doing in 2003. I’ve heard die hard shortboard guys go, ‘I’ve just got a new fish, I better get some Rhythm trunks for when I ride it.’ And that’s super funny for us, and kind of flattering.”

 

 

Asher Pacey’s a guy that embodies the Rhythm spirit perfectly, and the boys maintain that there’s no marketing tricks in his outward-facing persona. “He’s not trying to be anything that he’s not, and he always looks like he’s having fun,” says Marc. “The points on the Gold Coast are world class on their day, but a lot of the time they’re small and reeling, making them perfect for experimenting with twinnes and the like. He’s a super lovely, earthy dude, and he’s just an unbelievable surfer.” In a time when heritage is dreamt up in marketing think tanks, and rich guys fabricate brands to milk the teat of a sudden detour of surf culture, it’s refreshing that a gaggle of gents from the Gold Coast are carving out a little slice of the surf retail pie for themselves. Authenticity still, thankfully, is the last of the ingredients of success that can’t be backdated.

Surf Photo’s supplied by Rhythm

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