This Is What A Brand With Dane Reynolds’ DNA Looks Like
The new Former range is unfiltered and raw, just like DR.
The most common complaints lobbed at surf brands from the cheap seats these days go something like this: surf brands are out of touch, don’t know their audience, feel disconnected from their core consumers, lack individuality, etc.
Meanwhile, nearly every range Former has dropped since launching in 2017 has sold out. The brand aesthetic’s been embraced wholeheartedly by streetwear kids and skateboarders alike, largely because the shit feels raw, unfiltered, and unrefined in a sincere way that only young, often naive brands, seem to be.
Although Former’s developed a cult following in surf, the main criticism received has largely been that it hasn’t felt like “Dane’s Brand,” with both Luxury 29.99 and Radiant Cure very much drawn from the DNA of Former partner Austyn Gillette and the late, great Dylan Rieder.
“Our whole business plan initially was just direct-to-consumer, which allows you to be pretty flexible and do things at your own pace, and our plan was to put out ranges and base them around video parts,” Dane says. “The person in the video part would be the key factor in designing each range and the way that it looks and feels.”
With “Copacetic,” we see what Former feels like with Dane’s DNA flowing freely, literally; the best pieces from the capsule were either inspired by little Sammy Reynolds, or feature his adorable scribbles, all put through Dane’s subtly ironic, post-punk, DIY filter.
And while Dane’s no stranger to putting a graphic touch on a line, he’ll be the first to tell you there’s been a learning curve for him and the Former crew as far as cut and sew, design, and production.
“We came into this so naive. We hired a designer that was a friend, and we weren’t super hands-on with the production aspect of it. We were really hands-on with the design aspect, but the production aspect got weird and we ended up moving away from his factories and moving into Bali, and that’s been really cool. We’re all way more hands-on with the stuff. It happens so much quicker and we’re more hands on.
“Warren [Smith] has been going to Bali and working on products there, and we’re able to work on a piece, get a sample, and put it into production really quickly, instead of months and months out.
“Warren went to China once for the first production, and he said it was the most depressing place he’s ever been. Not the factories—the factories were fine—but he just said that there was no joy and in anyone’s lives there. And honestly making things in China doesn’t make sense for a small business like us, but like I said, we were naive. He said just being in Bali, designing stuff in a small factory—I don’t know, he felt good. It’s a tiny factory, there’s only a handful of employees, and it’s really cool. He’d surf every morning and then go work on garment design, or in the factory with pattern makers. Warren was stoked. I didn’t think he was going to come back.”
You can get your hands on the “Copacetic” range, as well as a few select pieces in limited sizes from previous ranges, here, and scroll south for a few pieces that the Stab staff happily dropped a few shekels on this AM, before the line disappears.
Lurking Polo (W/ Artwork by Dane Reynolds)
“Mustard is a pretty hideous color. That’s its charm. If you can take a shirt, shade it in a tone that should be spread across an Oscar Mayer, add a hand-drawn graphic, four buttons, a collar and come up with something we would not only wear, but buy—in our pious opinion, they’re doing something right. Which is why we grabbed this Lurking Polo in Mustard. I’m also hoping it’ll bring out the blue in my eyes.” – Morgan Williamson
Living Room Tee (W/ Artwork by Dane Reynolds)
“Artwork adorning most tees, particularly those from surf brands these days, are rarely intended to or successfully evoke thought.
“Former is different.
“Like all art, Dane’s hand-drawn graphic on ‘Living Room’ is up for interpretation, but it doesn’t take much to understand what Dane’s motivations were. Technology can provode us with an overwhelming amount of thought provoking material, but most of the time we’re letting it wash over us, without consideration, only that numb, blank feeling of being “entertained.” To me, ‘Living Room’ says that. And it keeps the sun off your back.” – Jake Embrey.
Little Sammy Reynolds is obsessed with trucks. Semi-trucks, specifically. When he sees them, his eyes widen as he wonders: “Heyyy, what’s in his back piece?”
So, when Dane went to design this tee featuring Sammy’s fantastically frantic scribbling on the back, the name practically wrote itself, and the tee itself might be our very favorite from the brand, yet.
We couldn’t leave out the title track and capsule namesake, “Copacetic.”
“Sammy was taking a bath, playing with army men, and he set them up on the rim like that. I was like, ‘Holy shit,'” Dane says. “I just thought it was funny and took a photo, but it sort of gathered meaning for me, in a few ways…
“With parenting, your kids are pretty much your captor. They’ve got you hostage. But it’s a Stockholm Syndrome thing. You love your captor.
“And as far as “Copacetic” goes—‘able to cope with anything and everything’—like, the guy’s in a fucked situation, but just smiling and care free. You turn on the news or look at the latest tragedy on social media it’s easy to feel like shit’s fucked and the end is near, but the best thing you can do is look at the positive aspects of life and smile I guess.” – Dane Reynolds
To check out the rest of Former’s current offerings and support a rider-owned brand, head here.
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