Stab Magazine | O'Neill's Heritage Remains Unsurpassed In Surf

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O’Neill’s Heritage Remains Unsurpassed In Surf

Beyond fabrication.

style // Feb 19, 2020
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Heritage is a brand’s most valuable commodity. If it’s genuine, that is.

Because in a saturated market (which in the year of La Norde 2020, most markets are) it’s what gives your brand a voice. Sure, you can use innovation as your USP (think Tesla, Apple, mainly tech) but your product better be so damned good that it leaves all others in its futuristic wake.

O’Neill makes bloody fine wetsuits, but they’re not the only company to do this. What sets O’Neill apart from the other brands is they have a great story, and an even better anchor: the eternal Jack O’Neill.

H Ads JackPat amp Mike 1970s

Surfer, sailor, altogether waterman and certified pioneer: Jack sure was ahead of his time.

If you pay attention to the whims of advertising then you’ll learn to become suspicious of the bearded protagonists brands push as their founding fathers. All too often these figureheads are dreamt up in the boardroom (beer brands being particularly guilty). Not O’Neill however, as Jack’s 100% verified, the innovative forefather of the company and a pioneer of the greatest technological advancement since surfing’s inception: the wetsuit. The fact that Jack projected (projects) such a zany, windswept and interesting silhouette, well that’s just a bonus.

Every now and then it’s important for the heritage brands to touch on the past. We get so caught up in the technological space race – hyper flex, super dry, bat winged firewalls and so on – that it’s necessary for a brand like O’Neill to check in and say, “Hey, we’ve been doing this a long time: trust us.” And trust them with our health and circulation when the waters turn frigid we do. In fact we’re willing to risk our reputations on it. 

First Name In the Water is a beautifully simple summation of O’Neill 2020.

Here’s the heritage: Jack, Santa Cruz, and all the associated imagery that’s intertwined with its DNA.

Here’s the team: from Jordy to Waggy, Soli and everyone in-between, it’s a core list of nonsense-free surfers who put their gear to the ultimate test. And that’s without touching on characters like 2019’s cone-corporal, Russel Bierke. It’s easy to meet advertorial with cynicism, but you gotta have the gear to do the surfing, and O’Neill’s gear has been at the pointy end of the market since its inception. Which was in 1952, just in case you were wondering.

(They also had the comfiest wetsuit in 2019, according to our annual rubber review.)

Invest your disposable income wisely, here.


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