Australia's 10 Favourite Surf Brands
Billabong is a surf brand known worldwide for its surf, snow and skate clothing, shoes and accessories. The company was founded in 1973 by Gordon and Rena Merchant and joined the ASX in August of 2000. The main brand has since produced Honolua Surf Company, Kustom, Palmers Surf, Xcel, Tigerlily, Sector 9 and RVCA, all successful brands in their own right.
The brand sponsors riders in several different subcultures including surfers, snowboarders and wakeboarders. These riders in turn are brand ambassadors, showcasing the company and its products, as well as the corresponding lifestyle.
Globe was established in the 1980s, born out of Hardcore Enterprises, an Australian-based company specializing in skateboards and street culture. Peter and Stephen Hill founded Hardcore in 1984 and rapidly expanded it to become one of the world’s largest skateboard distribution companies. In 1994, along with brother and current Globe CEO Matt Hill, the Globe brand was created.
After 10 years of design, production and distribution with Hardcore it was time to create a global brand, first with shoes for skaters and surfers, and then with apparel and hardgoods for the broader board sports market. Fast forward to today and the same crew of skaters, surfers and snowboarders that started the business back in the 80s has grown to a global network of designers and riders that are united by board sports, street fashion, media, design and film.
The end of the 60s and throughout the 70s was the beginning and heyday for surf culture in Australia, leading to several iconic surf brands still in business today. Hot Tuna claims the title “one of surfing’s authentic brands,” and is committed to its original values: great surf clothing, the sport and spirit of surfing worldwide, and good times.
Hot Tuna have sponsored surfing events such as the WQS Hot Tuna Central Coast Pro at Soldiers Beach on the Central Coast of New South Wales, the Hot Tuna Summer Classic at Gunnamatta Beach on the Victoria coastline in Australia and the Hot Tuna Summer of 69 at St Agnes in Cornwall, United Kingdom.
This 30-year-old brand is celebrating its anniversary with “30 Years of Self Indulgence,” an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that celebrates “some of our greatest, and worst, creations, that we feel really sum up our history.”
Mambo, known for its flatulent dog trumpet design by artist and musician Reg Mombassa and other brash designs, was recently acquired by Saban Brands but will remain a mainstay in Australia. Mambo was founded in Sydney by Dare Jennings and Andrew Rich, and can boast over 380,000 followers on Facebook, and the accolade of being the designers of the Australian Olympic team uniforms for the 2000 Olympics—among several other cool moments in their history.
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Ocean & Earth
Like many a surf brand, Ocean & Earth started by producing a few basic surfing products and a staff of Brian Cregan and a couple partners in 1978. The company grew through a network of retailers through NSW and Southern Queensland and as of 2010 has been known as the company that makes the “World’s Strongest Leash”—a fully moulded surf leash.
The backbone of the company: a broad range of surfing accessories, backpacks and a small range of clothing were the types of items the company started selling at its inception, proving its business model has worked throughout the decades. Ocean & Earth shares that their surf fashion reflects “the waves we surf, the places we travel, the music we listen to and the art that inspires us.”
If the sport uses a board, Quiksilver is there. The brand was founded on boardshorts when in 1969 Alan Green and John Law, two Torquay locals, noticed a gap in the surf market. They made the swim trunks in their home garage, and since then the company has become one of the largest and most prestigious apparel companies in the action outdoor sports industry.
Quiksilver offers a diverse line of products under its umbrella, including a complete clothing collection, accessories, eyewear, watches, sun care, footwear and wetsuits. The Winter Sports division is emerging with snowboarding apparel and hard goods designed for high performance enthusiasts.
Rip Curl is one of the “big three” surf brands to come out of Australia (along with Billabong and Quiksilver). The company was founded in 1969 by Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer in Torquay, Victoria, and initially produced surfboards. Shortly thereafter the company began work on a wetsuit suitable for surfing.
The brand is now a major Australian designer, manufacturer, and retailer of surfing sportswear and accompanying products, and a major athletic sponsor. This has lead to a surge in their global presence, leading the brand to becoming one of the largest board wear brands in Australia, Europe and South America.
Although all the surf brands mentioned on this list provide gear for women, SeaFolly is the only one that focuses on women. The company was founded in 1975 with the idea that a range of fashionable and sun safe swim and lifestyle wear should be available to women, as well as girls and boys. Today, SeaFolly is stocked in major fashion department stores and swimwear boutiques around the world.
Although the company is not specifically a surf brand, SeaFolly does sell rash guards and other beach essentials. Known for their bold statement prints, contrasting textures and injections of eclectic colour, SeaFolly’s line encapsulates the brands philosophy: Seafolly believes life is for living!
Surf Stitch isn’t one brands—it’s all surf brands. The company has become Australia’s largest online fashion retailer, the world’s largest online action sports and youth apparel retailer, and is home to over 20,000+ products and 600 brands. Founders Justin Cameron and Lex Pederson grew the company from their back yard garage in 2007 to its current global business status.
The pair wanted to fill the void left by traditional surf shops: great gear, but a limited amount of product, sizes and style. Cameron and Pederson are still involved in the day-to-day of the website’s business. The year 2012 saw the company expand into Europe, and Surf Stitch has just recently acquired a North American online retail platform, widening the company’s reach even further.
The Critical Slide Society
Self defined by Rama McCabe, creative director, as “Art, surf & fun,” The Critical Slide Society joined the pantheon of surf brands in Australia in September of 2009. What started as a small partnership in a beachside cottage between Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes, former employees of Mambo, has turned into a brand that is sold in select retail stores in Australia, USA Canada, Spain and Japan.
TCSS started out as a blog where the two would document favourite surf and pop culture artists. The blog spawned a small clothing collection which is what has grown into today’s line. This year, McCabe shares that the brand has “gone a little tougher and less fruity then where we have been. This is a reflection of the brand maturing and catering for an ever changing market.”