What happens when 11 times surfing world champ joins forces with a fashion designer and storyteller to create a surfing fashion brand? At first, a wave of criticism falls on the first one. But then…

Dream team?

Outerknown has been created by well experienced and talented men. The first one is Kelly Slater, the most recognised surfer in history (11 time world champion). At the age of 45 he’s still in top 34 surfers competing in World Tour and still having a young gun energy and joy while in the water. When onshore he’s an entrepreneur tightly bound with the surfing world. Kelly runs his own line of surfboards (Slater Designs) in collaboration with Firewire. He created the most advanced artificial wave (Kelly Slater Wave Company), which was sold to the World Surf League. Finally, in 2015 he teamed up with John Moore to launch Outerknown clothing brand.

Black&white picture of John Moore and Kelly Slater

photo: Outerknown

And as for Moor, it seems that Slater could not have chosen a better partner. This surfer and designer builds clothing brands and tells stories about them. He came up with Hollister (a younger consumer brand from Abercrombie & Fitch). He took part in revitalization of the Hawaiian M.Nii brand that produces classic boardshorts, which historically were used by John F. Kennedy and surf legend Greg Noll. In 2014 GQ magazine honored him with the title of Male Designer of the Year.

Is a duo of such competences a ready recipe for success on the tough clothing market?

In my opinion Outerknown has a very good marketing (attractive, distinctive brand philosophy, communication consistency, high quality content), but there were some obstacles in the filed of brand image at the very beginning. When Kelly announced his new venture to the world, he was hit by the wave of criticism regarding the prices he offers for the OK products. A whole, turbulent exchange of opinions under Kelly’s post on Instagram is here.

Picture of a ship with sea birds around it and text saying "What are we wearing and where is it coming from?"

photo: Outerknown

Quality costs

The main complaint against Slater was the above mentioned price of the clothes. The fact is that Outerknown is a premium surfing brand, with premium pricing. For the classic T-shirt from the latest collection you have to pay at least $ 40. Shirts and swetashirts cost at least two, three times as much.

As one of the journalists said, describing the wave of the “heyday” slammed onto Slater, the realization of the philosophy to produce menswear in a sustainable way costs money. And that what Outerknown vision is about. The brand manufactures its highest quality clothing by working with carefully selected suppliers who are additionally required to meet its environmental requirements and provide decent working conditions. Here you can read the list of these suppliers, learn more about them and find out the details of the so-called “The Code of Conduct”, which presents brand’s approach to sustainability.

Caring for the environment is also a key massage of Outerknown advertising. Under the “It’s not OK” campaign, a collection of clothes has been created and all the profits from selling them support ocean conservancy.

In 2016, Evolution collection has been launched. It included boardshorts and jackets created using nylon recovered from old fishing nets.

Picture of Kelly Slater walking on the rocks during 2017 WSL Gold Coast event wearing Outerknown boardshorts and Slater Designs surfboard

photo: Outerknown

Brand grows in strength and already has a collection created specifically for the popular US men’s clothing distributor called Mr Porter. As part of this collaboration, a collection of “cheerful” Californian winter t-shirts and shorts has been created.

Picture of model presenting Outerknown Mr Porter collection of yellow shorts and denim shirt

photo: Outerknown

Picture of model presenting Outerknown Mr Porter collection of yellow shorts and denim shirt

photo: Outerknown

Bula * among WSL sponsors

This year, for the first time in its history, the brand has become a titular sponsor of one of the World Tour contests. Knowing Kelly’s career and relationship with the locals selections could only be one – Fiji Pro. On the island of Tavarua (where the WSL team stays during the event) Kelly feels at home and Cloudbreak is his beloved wave. Within this “sponsorship” a dedicated collection of t-shirts and boardshorts with Fiji Pro logo was created.

Picture of judges tower during 2017 Fiji Pro contest

photo: Outerknown

Picture of Kelly Slater on a wave during the 2017 Fiji Pro contest

photo: Outerknown

Picture of Julian Wilson barreled during the 2017 Fiji Pro contest

photo: Outerknown

Classic surfing style

In the Outerknown collections you won’t find controversial cuts or screaming graphics. This clothing isn’tt for people who want to stand out on the street and beach by using eye-catching colors, big logos or t-shirt manifestos. Because, as founding fathers say:

 “We are surfers who grew up among surfing brands, but we grew up out of logos. And we want to wear clothing that’s made better, fits better and looks better.”

I would say that we are dealing here with a surfing classics for people who appreciate higher quality material (which they can afford) and who appreciate classic look and convenience without unnecessary fireworks. Personally, I like the simplicity and this calm look. I also appreciate some invisible details that are interesting and unobtrusive, such as the inner chest pocket in select models of sweatshirts. I would not be able to base my wardrobe on the style proposed by Slater and Moore, but I found something for me among OK collections.

Sojourn T-shirt

I love t-shirts with a chest pocket. This model is produced in a wide range of colors, so it fits perfectly into a more toned look (darker colors) and looser, “weekend” style (vivid pastel colors).

Picture of Outerknown Sojourn t-shirts in grey, navy and beige

photo: Outerknown

Barrancho Poncho

I probably wouldn’t wear this sweatshirt on a daily basis, but would definitely take it with me for a surfing trip to set up after swimming (to keep me warm) or for evening walks down the beach. For a perfect beach look I would pair it with a dark blue shorts and flip flops.

Picture of model wearing Barranco poncho from 2017 Outerknown collection

photo: Outerknown

Lowtide Crew

A classic sweatshirt with a twist in the form of an inner chest pocket. I really like the trim and material in it. I would go with indigo color and wear it with skinny blue jeans.

Picture of model wearing Lowtide Crew sweatshirt from 2017 Outerknown collection

photo: Outerknown

Finally, one comforting information for all those who don’t earn in dollars or the standard price of the OK clothing is still not within their reach. From time to time, Outerknown is practicing sales, with discounts up to 50%. However, one must react quickly. Lately I was late and was no longer able to buy the above mentioned Sojourn T-shirt in perfect summer color 😉

*Bula – mens „welcome” in the language of Fiji people

Thanks for reading. Now go surf!