In Support of Women’s Product Testing and Reviews - Stab Mag

In Support of Women’s Product Testing and Reviews

The market for women’s surf products is growing and we’re here for it.

style // Dec 11, 2020
Words by Esther Hershkovits
Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’m a solution to a problem you didn’t even know existed. 

If you think it’s hard to find quality content about women’s surf culture, you can imagine how scarce the marketplace is for non-sponsored women surfers curating, testing, and reviewing a variety of products.

The guys at Stab were looking for someone to try and give a new perspective amid the circle jerk… 

Huh? Oh, excuse me… “Echo chamber.” 

Yes, surfboards are mostly unisex, but pretty much all other surf products and aspects of marketing are gender-specific. Which is amazing considering I don’t think any major surf media featured women’s reviews in any substantive manner before Stab did Stephanie Gilmore’s Acid Test, and to a lesser degree, included women in their seasonal swimwear shoot last winter.

But I’m not here to complain about the issue. I’m here to change it.

As we’ve seen with the Stab High Ladybirds, the gender-performance gap is rapidly disappearing. There is a strong argument to be made that surfing as a culture will soon comprise equal parts men and women*.

I am a New Yorker; I was raised around the art and fashion industries before rapidly and somewhat delusionaly becoming obsessed with surfing. This transition instilled in me an intolerance for frivolous bullshit and a deep appreciation for thoughtful and refined design. 

Mostly, I just like to surf. 

There is a good chance this will fall on deaf ears, haters, etc. But I know that if my friends and I all agree— where are the women writing about surf products?— there must be other people who feel the same way, and I’m betting a lot of them, like me, already read Stab. So here’s to hoping that a few rad chicks see this and get psyched.

Everything is a Cozy Crossover Autumn Picks

It’s Fall 2020 and everything is a crossover, collab, or combo: smartwatches, athleisure, spiked seltzer, Travis Scott burger at McDonalds, the list goes on. In the ‘Rona States of America, it feels like every brand that hasn’t done so already is scrambling to create a loungewear hybrid, especially for women. 

Meanwhile, surf purists are recruiting new members among people disgusted by multi-function extra-plush everything. In our new social context, geeking out over the no-frills functionality of surfing’s fine tuned single purpose products is oddly, but undeniably, comforting. 

One of my favorite parts of surfing is the obsession many of us have with trying to remain unnoticed until you’re paddling for a wave. In many ways this is the antithesis of ‘clout culture’, where people want to get noticed more than they want to be respected. I imagine most surfers would want respect over attention any day, but as a woman I do have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to earning respect in a new lineup. I tend to overcompensate by being extra respectful and discreet. This gives me a particularly strong–and maybe sometimes conflicted–desire to remain true to surfing’s “core” belief in letting your surfing talk, not your kit. 

But, I’m also not mad that the mainstream cozy crossovers apparel trend is finding its way into surfing (exhibit A is that everyone in California has a fucking towel poncho and little floor mat). Because honestly, can you really hate on comfort?

I think there is a happy medium to be found and plenty of brands that are innovating performance-driven products in the comfortable crossovers category:

Slowtide ‘The Dig’ Changing Poncho

I just moved to California a month ago so I don’t have a towel poncho yet, but I understand the appeal. A controversial piece that toes the line between frivolous bullshit and thoughtful design. But you can’t talk about cozy crossovers without mentioning them. Towel ponchos were trending before COVID and I imagine if you have one you probably haven’t washed it in a while.

Quiksilver Originals Women’s Pants

Baggy pants are the best–like this one from Quiksilver’s new Originals line. It’s a linen-cotton blend which is super lightweight and versatile to take you from beach coverup to skatepark to an evening out without having to change or sacrifice style for comfort. 

Vans Sherpa Slide on in Chipmunk Marshmallow

These slides are a perfect representation of the influence of the cozy trend. Obviously it isn’t a desire to achieve peak performance that leads Vans to stock white fuzzy ‘Chipmunk Marshmallow’ slides but ya know it seems comfortable. 

Slowtide Yoga Towel

A no-surf quarantine forced me to finally appreciate the benefits of yoga. If you are also new to the yoga cult– or completely uninitiated– you probably (like me until five minutes ago) are wondering what the fuck a yoga towel is.

Whether or not you like yoga, the surf/yoga crossover industry is booming and leading the charge on the forefront of comfort. This product seems pretty sweet if that’s what you’re into– towel and non slip exercise mat all in one. Plus, it’s eco-friendly.

Billabong Boundary Reversible Fleece Jacket

I love to see Billabong bringing back reversibles but actually making both sides strong and distinct styles. From their “adventure division” collection, this jacket is cozy and functional with fuzzy white fleece on one side and military green ripstop water resistant fabric on the other. 

Rip Curl F Light Backpack  

This backpack from Rip Curl is a functional/comfortable style wet dream. It has such plush padding that it would be a drawback if you don’t like cushy backpack straps. There’s a roll-top dry pouch if you want to go to the beach and a laptop case if you’re traveling. It has specially designed pockets for wax, fins, and sunglasses. Plus outer ties on the side and bottom so you can strap a sleeping bag, skateboard, or water bottle. They even put an easy-access insulated cooler pocket for your roadies.

Rip Curl Search GPS Watch 

Not exactly cozy but no surf crossover recs article could exist without touching on the recent explosion of surf watches. I don’t usually wear a watch or any jewelry on my wrists because I always lose it, and full disclaimer I probably wouldn’t have invested the money to try the Rip Curl watch if I hadn’t been sent a sample. But that thing is fuckin sweet and now I wear it when I surf to track my sessions and if I’m surfing at a spot with a surfline cam the rewind function is pretty damn cool.

Vans Mod Slip-On

Vans slip ons could in some ways be considered the godfather of athleisure footwear. If they weren’t already comfortable and multi-functional enough, they made an upgrade designed specifically for surfers. The update includes their patented UltraCush midsole because if you haven’t understood yet everyone loves kush these days.

*If you don’t believe me, take it from Logan Dulien, the creator of the Snapt movies, who recently said he would like to make a women’s version of Snapt or invite top tier women to be included in Snapt in the future. He also pointed out that women surfers generally have bigger social media followings, which cannot be discounted or downplayed in our current economy, and it goes without saying surfing is also one of the only sports where women earn equal prize money. The women’s tour is going back to Teahupoo and Maya Gabeira surfed the biggest wave this year. Like it or not, women are kicking down the door of surfing’s boring monoculture at the highest level.


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