Stab Magazine | Highline: Making Surfboards Sexy (Again?)

Highline: Making Surfboards Sexy (Again?)

The youth shall inherit… the surfboard industry.

style // Feb 18, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Being young’s great ‘n all, but you sure spend a lot of time getting told who you are and what you can’t do. Lazy, entitled, hair’s too long, hair’s too short, clothes are stupid, never gunna get a job, never gunna own a house; as the years greaten the gaze often seems to narrow. It’s not a binding rule, however, and those who invest in the youth seem to me—someone who’s recently discovered the first grey in his muzzle—to be largely successful, and/or quite content. One such gentleman is Nathan ‘Noodles’ Webster, a former world tour competitor whose latest commercial(ish) jaunt (his most remarkable being purchasing the Australian rights for RVCA when everyone still thought it was called “Arr Vee See Ayy”) is a surfboard company as a vehicle for art and personal enjoyment. Highline’s latest offering is a clean RVCA capsule and surfboards created in collaboration with Josh Keogh and Max Stewart (Eye Symmetry), the two young men responsible for 100 percent of the crafts that’ve clogged up my inexpensive Japanese car for the past few years.

Interest piqued, Noodles contacted.

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The youth shall inherit…the surfboard industry.

“For fun,” Nathan says when I ask him why. “I like making stuff and being involved in surfing. Also, I wanted to start something without the weight of it having perform or deliver anything at all. Without the pressure to feed families or anything heavy like that. I never wanted to have to take it too seriously.” The irony with people who shovel their lifesavings into projects, hell bent on them succeeding, is that the stress and desperation shows. Similarly, a creative, connected dude who’s doing something just because, is portrayed in the product and direction. “It’s somewhat of art project for the most part,” Nathan continues. “I also wanted to bring more salt water back to this great industry. An industry founded by surfers, funded by drug money.” Before adding, “Sadly we don’t have any drug money, but we’re doing it in the same spirit.”

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Clean logo, clean wax job.

Highline’s staple product is boards, and the structure of their release, loose. The first few models they put out were shaped and designed by James Cheal (Chilli), simply because he and Nathan have spent years developing a formula that works. Now, the brand has turned its eye on some young blood.

“I always wanted it to be an open forum for people to contribute and collaborate toward making quality stuff,” says Nathan. I’ve got nothing but admiration for those who invest time and money in talented young folk. The results of stuffy, grim (mainly) men hoarding the reigns for too long are all around us, and surfing’s no different. For Nathan however, it’s something that’s not only paramount to his recent passion venture, but also something that he deems crucial for life as a whole. “I just like the optimism,” he says of getting Max and Josh involved in Highline. “It’s refreshing, since a lot of this space is filled with old, crusty, cranky cunts that are pretty tired from the fumes and years spent being in a notoriously shit margin game. Which is fair enough. But I see guys like Josh and Max as two extremely talented blokes and want to tap in and help be part of their rise. I like that they are extremely hands on also—very close to each board and the process, sticklers for detail… Plus they’re good blokes and I enjoy their company.” 

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Josh Keogh and creation.

The Highline/RVCA capsule, like the surfboards, features clean lines and nothing unnecessary. “Low key with something special in the detailing,” as Nathan puts it. The tees (white logo on white tee, black logo black tee) are an exercise in subtle branding, and the caps sleek. The trophy pieces are undoubtedly the button up and the trunks. Looking to score a few clever dick points (and because I know Nathan’s a fan) I ask whether the shirt was modelled off the PJs that Julian Schnabel famously wears for casual strolls around New York. He laughs. “Let’s face it, there ain’t many original ideas left to explore. We’re all just recycling ’em,” he says. And then there are the trunks: Black for surfing, a sensible length, red trim and subtle logo’s, and endorsed by old velvet pipes himself. If this wasn’t all centred around something as superfluous as surfing, you may well call it a triumph. 


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