This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man's Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September. Stay tuned all month for more.
A great surf shop is more than just a place for actual tube-chasers to fill out their quivers. It also offers a healthy mix of beach gear and duds, some soft, some loud, all teetering effortlessly between high performance and casual indifference.
These shops, of course, are in no way new or novel: tees and boardshorts have collected sand on the floors of huts and vans for decades. What has changed are the folks who frequent them.
You no longer need to know a rail from a stringer to embrace the surfer aesthetic — just a desire to wear clothes that project a look of laid-back approachability from the beach to the bar and back again. Which also means you no longer have to live in California or Hawaii to find a great surf shop. Below, you'll find 10 brands doing surf casual right, from old-school SoCal stalwarts to high-end NYC outposts to a little hole in the wall on Australia's Central Coast.
And they're all shoppable online to boot.
Costa Mesa, California
Surf apparel from guys who build boards with their own hands. This California company, around since 2007, offers an array of restrained tees, sweatshirts and flannels — aimed largely at those days not spent out on the swells.
We recently wrote about this LA upstart, and for good reason. They’ve perfected the beach-to-bar ensemble with a raft of duds (board shorts, tees, over-shirts) that are colorful yet undemonstrative.
To the North! Toronto-based Bather Co. deals only in boardies, and they do a damn good job with them, bringing a bit of an urban edge to a realm usually reserved for sunshine florals.
Deus Ex Machina
Sydney, with various physical locations around the globe
Deus is more than a moto outpost. It's also got its own California surf shop, a Venice Beach café named "The Emporium of Postmodern Activities," as well a surf apparel collection, which though small, is sufficiently loud, featuring cotton-candy caps and tops.
The grandpappy of the group, Katin’s been kicking it since 1954, but has kept up effortlessly with the surf lifestyle renaissance of the 2010s, all while retaining a sizable serving of SoCal pluck. We really like their shorts, but with deep-washed hoodies and snapbacks that say “No Problemo”, you really can’t go wrong.
Mollusk designs and makes all of its clothing in California, maintains storefront hangouts in San Francisco, Venice Beach and Silver Lake, and has graphic tees down to a … you get it. Stripes, avocadoes, rising suns — take your pick.
We're all familiar with Kelly Slater's handsome, eco-friendly threads. Each garment has a thoughtful origin story: the pants pictured, for instance, are constructed from hemp and organic cotton and can't seem to decide whether they're khakis or sweatpants — which is about as surf-friendly as it gets.
Pilgrim Surf + Supply
Brooklyn and Tokyo
The flagship's in Brooklyn, but there's also a shop in Tokyo — and a scroll through their collection shows why. This is year-round surf gear: zany and aspirational, and certainly not restricted to warmer days. There are tamer pieces, of course, and if you've got the coin, a bevy of options for a more dressed-up approach.
The East Coast poster boy for the surf sensible movement: high-fashion inspired tangentially by the sport and its culture. Feel free to knock ‘em for going hyper-minimal as of late, but there’s still enough of a commitment to color across the ensembles. Besides, their SoHo coffee shop is a must-visit.
The Critical Slide Society
We’d be remiss to leave out SoCal’s hairy, rugged cousin in the surfing family tree. Checking in from Australia (or, more specifically, New South Wales’ Central Coast) is The Critical Slide Society, a brand that rolls off the tongue like a band name, and makes joyfully offbeat beachside wares not dissimilar to band merch.