Five Deceased Surf Brands We’d Like To See Resurrected
Nostalgia gets us high!
Not by us, obviously, as there’s far more enjoyable ways to squander your money.
However, if, theoretically, we were gifted the (re)start-up coin and bringing up surf brands from the depths was the brief, then there’s a certain number of brands which still prompt a little sentimental flutter deep within, as we remember cherished, often parentally-bought items long since donated to charity shops. So without undue delay, let’s inhale a big slug of nostalgia and revisit some favourite surf brands past. (* Some of these brands still exist to some degree but, well, it’s not the same).
It’ll never happen again. Guaranteed. A surf brand will never be at the forefront of popular culture. Mambo, brainchild of Dare Jennings (who also founded Deus), was so intrenched with the politics, music and art of the time that surfing was almost a sideshow, although it was certainly a ‘surf’ brand. As an aside, it’s interesting that Mambo founded the three-pronged marketing attack – surfers, artists and musicians – and in 2019 brands are still trying it, usually unsuccessfully.
The reason it worked with Mambo is that it was organic, and Dare, Reg and the gang were more talented visionaries than average surf industry folk.
It’s impossible to fathom one of the biggest surf brands in the world making their wares domestically, but that’s exactly what Hot Tuna did for the entirety of their reign, in a factory in Taree on the mid-north coast of NSW.
Hot Tuna pushed the boundaries of normal in whatever they did, be it ecstacy-fuelled photo shoots (shot by Graham Shearer who would go on to become a household name in the fashion world), fruity as hell trunks, or founder Richard Meldrum telling his big accounts to stick it if they didn’t like what he was doing. Companies that burn bright and loose tend to have a fairly short shelf life, but we salute the iconic Australian brand for doing things their way and shifting surf culture along the way.
Once the biggest surf brand in the world (reportedly worth $200 million at its peak, when that was even more money than it is now) Gotcha is surfing’s great fall from grace story. Rather than focussing on the toppling of the brand and Michael Tomson it’s founder (although that’s a gripping, debaucherous tale that you can explore here), let’s focus on the positives, like the print ad above. I mean, that’s just groundbreaking marketing.
More Core Division
At the height of its reign, Gotcha decided that some of its roster were too core for its neon aesthetic and founded MCD, aka More Core Division. Whereas Gotcha sold to big department stores around the world, MCD was surf shops only and aimed to breathe a little counter culture back into an industry that at the time was absolutely booming. And what a roster they conjured. To save the squinting (or if you’re not old enough to recognise all the faces) pictured above are Dino Andino, Pottz, Sunny, Derek Ho, Mike Stewart, Mike Ho, Gerry Lopez, Cheyne Horan, Brock Little and Archy. And that’s before they signed Andrew Irons…
Now this one’s particularly close to our hearts. Analog was Burton’s (as in the snowboard behemoth, who also owns CI, fyi) jaunt into surf, and for a brief while it was a glorious union. Twas the early days of surfing on the internet, and the marketing budget teats hadn’t quite dried up, especially for a new brand aiming to make an impact with big snowboard money behind it. Analog brought Chippa to our attention and sent him around the world with Riley Blakeway (the millennial opus NOW, featured up top, being the resulting document) and Benny Godwin (still Forster, still ripping), threw cash in all the right directions (like at us) and was altogether a force for the creative good of our beloved surf.
Then one day the execs at Burton decided this surf apparel thing wasn’t worth their time and poof! We lost one of the good ones.
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