In an industry glutted with youth-oriented brands and driven by youth culture, the Honolua Surf Company offers a refreshing and timeless take on surf apparel by offering a line specifically designed and geared toward committed lifelong wave-riders.
“It’s not so much about age as it is about an attitude,” said Honolua Brand Director Pat Fraley. “Our customer is relaxed and just wants to be comfortable. He’s not swayed by fashion trends or anything like that. He’s just a true surfer that has built a life around the ocean, and our look and feel is meant to mesh with that type of lifestyle. Basically, the brand image is centered around the island waterman spirit, so instead of looking at what the trend is to try to justify what we’re doing, we can just step back and concentrate on making cloths that are classically surfy.”
To achieve this, Honolua has developed a clean and understated look that, according to Fraley, “isn’t just about aloha prints.” Instead, it draws on the color palette of Honolua Bay as inspiration, and offers customers a comfortable assortment of t-shirts, walking shorts, board shorts, pants and button-downs, with “a broad range of more subdued and simple patterns, scenic and logo-oriented stuff, as well as some really nice natural washed-out tees.” Fraley also added that the cut and the feel of the line are equally as important as the look, and said, “We just want to make clothing that our customers will wear everyday. We want to make that shirt or that pair of shorts that, if they’re not in the wash, they’re on our guy, automatically.”
A self described “tight-knit crew,” Honolua’s three-man business team of Fraley, Designer Eric Diamond and Sales Director Tom Gudauskas brings a collective 60 years’ worth of industry experience to Honolua, and sets the course for the heart and soul of its image by fully leading the lifestyle they promote. “For us it’s all about being in the water and being comfortable,” Fraley said, “so this is the perfect place for the three of us to be.”
With respect to distribution, “It’s strictly specialty. We’re into doing it the old-fashioned way, so right now our goal is to get our product into the best surf shops in the country.” Fraley added that if they can accomplish this, Honolua will without a doubt be sitting pretty.
In the marketing department, Honolua is looking into putting together paddleboard events and surf triathlons, and by aligning themselves with Maui’s mythic right point, has tied itself to an iconic symbol that resonates with multiple generations. Following this thread, they have assembled a team of riders that reflects the timeless image they are hoping to convey. Buzzy Kerbox, Archie Kalepa, Kiva Rivers and Gavin Sutherland spearhead a roster of “watermen who represent an age range from 28 to 48,” said Fraley proudly. “Archie and Buzzy are our Hawaiian watermen who just go huge at Jaws, Kiva is a younger guy who lifeguards on Maui, and Gavin is our aerial guy that goes nuts at Pipe and kills it in paddle races. They are all just well-rounded, hardcore watermen who have an intimate relationship with the ocean that transcends age, and to us that’s what this thing is all about.”