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Surfing Streetwear Culture

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Going through the streetwear prism we find many aspects to it. From plain basic clothing to designer pieces that will knock your socks off. Different people, different tastes. When we separate the differences, we get a diverse culture. Most are a natural outcome from the streetwear style, but some are specific for a certain sport or way of life. In this case, we have the surfing culture.

Surfwear, Streetwear

This negligent loose fit blew up in the 70-80s around California. Initially, it peaked in the mid-20th century in Hawaii and Australia. Moving its origins to the US, it started with beachwear and tank tops mixed with a pair of Vans. Affecting music, fashion, film, pop culture, and jargon. Mainstream popularization of the sport caused a shift in wants and needs of every growing teen, leading to the creation of new trends.


According to many sources, surfing as an activity dates back to the 17th century.

Surfing Streetwear, Streetwear Store
And written in the book “Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in Twentieth-century Hawai’i” it is described that surfing culture has been significant on the islands for at least 1500 years.

History was re-written many times due to different adventurers taking credit for the foundation of the culture. This caused the preservation of the surfing way of life to happen throughout different means. Spirituality is one of the oldest, born from Hawaiian natives, it kept traditions alive, symbolism, and respect for the ancestors that established surfing.

Changing the narrative, overcoming impossible odds, this beautiful part of history led to the creation of a living genre. Traditions are kept alive to this day, and clothing for the sport has become a big part of what it represents.

The spread of surfing culture throughout the centuries has led to different understandings and representations of it. This also means clothes and fashion. Brands have fought to find what best fits the sport, but as always fashion is everchanging.

RipCurl, Streetwear, Urban Move

Brands like Rip Curl have risen to the top, producing both performance clothing and a casual fit. Net integrated snapbacks and casual T’s mixed with wetsuits are just the beginning of their assortment.

Streetwear Culture, Surfing

We can mention other surfwear brands like O’Neill, Quiksilver, Ocean Pacific, Reef, Element, and more. All have certainly left a mark on the culture, and over the years branded themselves as a must-have surfing junkie attire.

Some of them have been around for more than 50 years, making them the OGs of the surfing world…

Surfing as a way of Life and not only

Describing the vastness of surfing as a sport, culture, or fashion statement is impossible. We can only agree that it has made an impact on the world. It has been around for centuries, and in time shaped the minds of those who wish to partake in the culture. Clothing is a big part of every culture, and surfing is no different. While streetwear knows no boundaries, there are segments of it specifically tied to each individual culture. Surfwear as an example, it’s also derived from streetwear, chosen to be worn to show off your nature, style, and character. 

Well, apparently there is no escaping the streetwear way of life huh…

1. By Unattributed - The Hawaiian Gazette. [volume] (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii]), 08 Dec. 1905. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib.