Surfing used to be so punk.
As a young hippy, I left my small village in the UK to go and figure out what life was all about. Following my love of the ocean, I found surfing. It was a natural next step, a F*** you to the corporate world.
I’d found my calling, people I could relate to, and I’ve been enjoying the freedom of the waves ever since. Pot washing in France, cleaning homes in California, farm work in Australia, I’ve done it all. All to keep surfing around the world for the last 15 years.
But I’m no longer feeling part of this culture. Where did all the cool people go?
Maybe it’s a case of big business muscling in, forgetting what surf meant to them, once upon a time. If the teams behind these brands are even surfers, I’m not so sure anymore?!
Surf giant Billabong launched the Warhol Surf Collection earlier this year, featuring Andy Warhol prints on surf-wear. Sure, it’s cool imagery, he was a radical artist of his time. And apparently, he made an underground surf film in 1968 (who knew?). But was he a surfer? The answer is no. The link here is tenuous. With a direct tap into such a thriving creative DIY counterculture: board artists, ocean artists, shapers, every surfboard is a handcrafted work of art in itself. Why did they not turn to the community?
It’s just not representative. As a surfer, and a woman, I’m not inspired by an old (dead in this case) dude who spent most of his life painting in a city. You can go to the nearest high-street and find a discount t-shirt with a Warhol bean can on it. Not so alternative.
Not to mention the ongoing global campaign against #artwomensexism. It’s hard enough for women artists to get their work seen. What about showcasing a female artist on your women’s surf collection Billabong?
It feels like these big surf brands have the money, and the urge to create inspirational collections, but they throw their money in the wrong direction. Towards headline grabbing names, rather than the subculture they are supposed to represent.
So, with my limited funds and fledgling new company Surf Worthy, I set out to represent.
I started to reach out to women surfers I knew. Asking them: do you know any incredible artists who would want to be part of a women’s wear collection made from recycled materials? The response was awesome.
The Surf Worthy Art Collection features original artwork by three women, each following unique paths on their journey as surfers, and artists.
Sasha Luchkova is a Russian-born travelling mural painter, tattoo artist, previous Surf Instructor, and a participant in the ‘Art to be Stolen’ movement, leaving her art on streets around the world for lucky passers-by.
Caroline Istas, originally from Belgium, worked as a Dive Instructor for many years. She’s a creative entrepreneur, talented illustrator, creator of ethical jewellery brand ‘Djinn’, and a keen new surfer Abri Racheal is a surfer based in San Diego. She paints beautiful ocean and surf inspired art in a mix of oil and watercolour on canvas.
“I want my art to make an impact on everything around it, from changing people’s emotions to helping protect the ground we walk on and the sea we swim in.”
Abri Racheal, Artist & Surfer, San Diego
These are the types of women we want to represent.
Surf Worthy is my mission to create something I couldn’t find. A women’s surf-wear company I could relate to. That produces ethical clothing, to help you ride waves to the best of your ability, and protecting our source, the ocean.
That’s where the artist collection comes from. The wave and the coral reef art, worn so the surfer’s stomach serves as the surface line dividing the two worlds. It’s all about the beauty of the sea that inspires me every surf.
We produce our clothing in ethical factories, who pay their workers a fair wage, and we’re staying true to the grassroots energy of a culture I so badly want to stay a part of.
We gift 10% of all company profits to coral reef conservation.
Despite adding art to our clothing, we do not compromise the functionality of our designs. Surf Worthy is a claim we take seriously. Even our logo art is a take on a superhero emblem, because I imagine surf women ripping it up wearing them all over the world. We’re warriors of the sea, and therefore our clothing must be ready for all that she throws at us. Our designs are tested by rad women riders all over the world, including Brittany Gomulka in Hawaii, who is a big wave surfer. She says “they stay on like no other”.
So, we hope surf women out there are inspired by the art on our designs to create their own art of surfing. After all, we are life imitating art, isn’t that what inspires us about being surfers in the first place?
We have set an ambitious crowdfund target to produce this collection on Indiegogo.
You can check out the collection here! You have until 18th December to grab an early bird deal that will arrive just in time for summer surf trips.