You’ve probably heard of Billabong, Ripcurl, Quicksilver and Hurley – but in the modern marketplace of 2019, there’s less room for big surf brands to dominate. Newer and, dare we say, cooler companies can use social media and emerging trends in sustainability and fashion to create something different that appeals to a more socially aware, hip and conscious audience. For a long time, iconic surfing brands were almost entirely associated with California and Australia – with classic brand after classic brand spreading out across the world from their sun-drenched and surf loving shores.
However, in recent years this has all changed. More independent companies sourcing locally made, exclusive and tailored garments, boards and accessories have successfully cornered parts of the market. Long known for its surfing towns such as Hossegor, France is no exception to the rule. These four companies provide French style and sophistication with the laidback surfing attitude that helped popularise surf style all over the world.
Since its inception in Normandy in 1985, Oxbow has worked with the world’s top surfers to produce forward thinking but ever-reliable equipment and clothing. They’ve also dipped their toes into snowboarding and skiing over the years, but their main focus has remained on ocean wave-based sports. Their most famous patron and sponsor is Laird Hamilton, who was a key figure in the development of tow-in big wave surfing. Today, they have put a lot of effort into the recent launch of their stand-up paddleboard range, which you can check out online.
Cuisse de Grenouille
A surf-inspired clothing line, with a name that means ‘Frogs Legs’ and a certifiably landlocked headquarters in Paris? Yes. Although not technically steeped in surf culture like other companies on this list, Cuisse de Grenouille has made a lot of waves in the casual menswear scene over recent years. You may have seen some well-dressed gentlemen about town sporting their ‘Surf in Paris’ crewnecks and T-shirts from their hugely successful 2016 collection. Doesn’t make much sense to us, but hey!
Sen No Sen
Featuring eco-friendly wetsuit designs prominently amongst the casual fashion of their yearly collections, Sen No Sen is a surf brand started by real surfers. With their first physical shop opening in Hossegor in 2017, they certainly have the surfing credentials to keep even the hippest wave chaser happy. Committed to locally sourced productions, 90% of Sen No Sen’s clothing is made in Portugal and other nearby countries in Europe. Plus, they have a shirt that says ‘surfing is the t-shirt of the soul’ on it – so that’s about all you need to know.
Founded in the Brittany coastal town of Plouguerneau in 2012, Hoalen clothes are all hand-made in small batches to foster exclusivity and discourage fast-fashion waste. All their boards and surfing equipment use natural biodegradable fibres where possible – all to keep to their company ethos of ‘producing better and consuming less – thicker, simpler, more repairable, more resistant, more sustainable.’
A noble aim indeed, and one most surfers can probably get behind!