[We’re stoked to be stocking some choice pieces from the Outerknown range in the Wavelength shop. Click here to browse now.]
In April 2014, eleven-time World Champ Kelly Slater peeled his last Quiksilver sticker off his board and set his sights on something entirely new.
It began with a realisation, that for over 20 years, his biggest source of career support had come from a clothing brand and yet, he hardly knew anything about the products that paid his salary. “I became interested in how clothes are made,” he told Vogue, “where textiles come from, the effects on the environment, social consciousness. . .I thought all those aspects could be put together in one company.”
He called up friend and acclaimed menswear designer John Moore with a challenge and together they laid down the blueprint for the brand that would become Outerknown.
You might think, for a man of Slater’s profile, launching a new label would be as simple as knocking up a few designs, dropping them on his social channels and watching the sales flood in. However, from the word go, the founders knew that if they were going to create a brand to be proud of, the devil was in the details.
So, they set about searching for partners who would go the extra mile with them. From industry backers who could facilitate their ambitious sustainability standards to innovative material suppliers and factories that put their workers first, it was a long road from the drawing board to the moment they were finally ready to release their first collection into the wild.
“The day we launched was one of the tougher days of my life in terms of business,” Slater continues, in his interview with Vogue.
“The surf world is not known for making great clothing and they don’t have high prices, so when we came out with really nice clothes at a higher price point, I got a lot of flack from people saying I’d sold out or just wanted to line my pockets. The ironic thing about that is, I took a gigantic pay cut to start a brand I believed in.”
Five years on and his founding vision appears to have been vindicated, with Outerknown blossoming into a highly successful brand at the leading edge of the industry’s charge towards a more socially and environmentally conscious future.
Headline accomplishments include sourcing 90% of their fabrics from organic, recycled or regenerated materials, like their trunks using textiles spun from recovered ocean plastics, and investing in the livelihoods of over 5 thousand workers through Fair Trade USA.
The Outerknown collection features an array of stylish and durable pieces, designed for surfers who don’t want to dress like surfers all the time. While it ain’t fast-fashion prices, the range is built for those who see the value in buying well and buying once and want to send a message to the industry at large about how it should be treating the people it works with and the planet we all share.
Shop some of our favourite pieces from the range here.