Rhythm Is Turning 20, Which EAST Shaper Co-Founded It?  - Stab Mag

Watch: The Electric Acid Surfboard Test, Starring Shaun Manners

Pro surfing sponsorship models have varied in recent years. Much like a model doing a campaign shoot for fashion brand, surf brands are aligning with surfers for a specific project or assignment as a gun for hire. This probably reflects two things: 1.) Rhythm’s forward-thinking approach, 2.) the current state of the surf industry - which just saw hundreds of contracts set alight last week.

Rhythm Is Turning 20, Which EAST Shaper Co-Founded It? 

Watch: ‘Oasis’ ft Jack Freestone + Hudson Ritchie on dreamy Mex points.

style // Nov 6, 2023
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

In partnership with Rhythm.

Rhythm have just released a 16-piece collection with Jack Freestone called ‘Oasis’For 20 years, the brand has always got aesthetics right. As expected, the new collection is easy on the eyes and instantly recognizable even without a label.

Surf trunks have been Rhythm’s strongest category since being co-founded by legendary pro surfer and shaper Neal Purchase Jnr and design/brand management wiz Jamahl Grey in 2003.

Their vision was to encourage surfers to be individuals and draw different lines – which probably ruffled a lot of feathers in the ‘fast n loose’ noughties where showing the inch of skin above the patella was a bit like threatening to murder a Holy Cow.

The key innovation in this new collection is the materials and cuts are a little more performance spec. Some stretch, some nearly cover knee. Nearly. The style is much the same – timeless, tasteful, with a tangible nod to their rich heritage. 

They only send size 32’s to our office – which means I personally cleaned up a great deal of them. I was strangled 15% less wearing them at Jiu Jitsu – interpret that how you will.

“We have made a variety of modifications to our trunks for the latest collection. A lot of minor tweaks, like how the waistband sits on the hips to provide a more secure fit. Our heritage fit is inspired by our surf heritage of the 1950’s, and our signature trunk is very similar to what we have had for almost 20-years. The latest addition to the collection is the core trunk, a style that takes note of the obvious 90’s / 00’s trend in the market,” says Rhythm’s marketing manager Jake Sandtner.

Jake continues: “If you follow the brand, you would know it’s our 20th Birthday, and from the beginning, we have had a love affair with trunks (boardshorts). We set out to create a campaign to create high exposure for our brand and product — this is where the Jack Freestone collaboration came into play.”

Jack Freestone told Stab last year, “I wish I’d experimented with different boards my whole career. It’s given me joy and a different path outside competitive surfing. After surfing shortboards for ten years it gets pretty stale, and if you’re competing there’s no wiggle room to progress your broader understanding and skill set.” He is the second Gold Coast CT surfer to have a rebound affair with Album Surfboards’ outlines and never look back.

“Jack is a world-class surfer and all-around nice round guy with a strong connection with the global surf community. We shook hands on the agreement, and swell was on the way. We booked flights, packed our bags, and called up our good friend Hudson Ritchie to join us on a trip to Mexico. We knew Hudson’s smooth approach to waves would gel with Jack’s nuanced style. We left the following morning to bring to life our latest film — OASIS,” explains Jake.

Rhythm hangs its hat on that global community that intersects with surf, music, art, things. Hudson Richie is one of those characters that tows both lines – a stylish surfer, funny character, a musician and a commercial pilot. Pictured here, gliding.

Rather than listing all the reasons why you should buy these tasteful trunks, which will make you a guaranteed show-stopper/lend you more financial freedom and so forth, we thought we’d do a deepish dive on Rhythm’s royalty-infused past, present and future. 

Rhythm’s current Global Brand Manager goes by the name of Jacob Byrne – the son of GC shaper Ian Byrne (also in this year’s EAST) and the nephew of the late Allan Byrne, channel-bottom maestro.

In 2010, Stab penned, “Is it not a thrill when a designer knows the mechanics of a cutback?” 

‘Coz Jacob fucking tears.

Along with Jye Townend — the son of Pete Townsend (the first IPS/ASP World Surfing Champion) — the pair took the surf trunk brand to the shores of the USA circa 2013.

Their US headquarters is based out of Irvine, nestled between the beaches at Laguna and Newport. 

When Stab published Outstanding and Principled Figures in the Surf Design Movement: Jacob had just graduated from the non-prestigious design school CATC in Surfers Paradise as “student of the year” before hawking his freelance wares around: first, to designer Rama McCabe (founder of Banks Journal) who worked then at Globe. 

Soon after it was Jamahl pinging his Motorola flip asking for assistance.  

Kinda poetic the once freelancing intern now heads the table at Rhythm as they celebrate their second decade in bizness.

The above @surfcore2001 post reflects the general look and feel of surf fashion in that era.

“The 90’s and early 00’s were all pretty core,” says Jacob – there’s an audible busyness (frantic clicking, tape guns) in the background of their Burleigh HQ as they gear up for summer/Xmas/Black Friday period. 

“When Purcho came on as one of the original co-founders the market was pretty dominated by just the big core surf brands. It would’ve been tough getting penetration back then, but we’ve stuck to our guns through the highs and lows of the past 20 years in the industry. It’s something we’re really proud of,” states Jacob.

Personally, I really like what Rhythm is about from the pedigree of surfers in the building(s)who’ve maintained and developed its brand position throughout the years, to the products themselves and the brand’s philosophy.

We’ve all been wearing black boardshorts for too long. This is your safest bet for a gentle evolution.

You can view the collection here.


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