A surf company that has nothing to do with Pro Surfers.
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
The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023
Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?
What Will Airs Look Like In 10 Years?
The final installment of our editorial exploration into the nuances of airborne surfing.
Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?
Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.
After Years Of Tragic Shark Attacks, Surf Competition Returns To Reunion Island — And A CT Event Could Follow
"We compete at J-Bay and Margarets where there's the same problem." -Johanne Defay
Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel
No Contest does Tel Aviv!
Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF
And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.
An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf
Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.
Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg
“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."
What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?
Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.
Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME
'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'
“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”
Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.
Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?
The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.
Watch Now: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’
Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…
How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World
Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.
The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare
"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble
‘I Thought He Was Gonna Grab A Machete… Then He Picked Up A Rock’
2x SSOTY Jai Glindeman’s drama (& left-tube) filled Sumbawa trip.