Nearly two years ago, Craig Anderson turned down a lucrative contract renewal offer from longtime sponsor Quiksilver to step out and start his own brand, alongside Dane Reynolds and professional skateboarder Austyn Gillette, and with the help of a few other close creative friends. While athlete-owned-and-operated brands are nothing new in the skate world (see: Girl, HUF), it was uncharted territory in surfing. Until Former.
Former officially launched in February, and with it, Craig put out a short film, titled Luxury 29.99, an eight-minute short that reminded us how Craig is still one of the most incredible and stylish surfers in the world today. Since the launch of Former, Craig has been wearing a lot of hats: helping operate a business, pouring over colorways and graphics, working on new pieces, and, most importantly, surfing. “The best thing I can do is surfing. That’s kind of what I should stick to [Laughs],” Craig says. “But to be making stuff we want to wear and then selling it, and working on edits and projects we’re excited about it -- it’s been fun to watch it all evolve and grow.”
You put out an incredible short along with the launch of Former in February. What have you been up to in the months since?
Last year, everything was so focused on the launch of the brand. It was probably a year to a year and a half in the making. To launch [Former] along with that edit [Luxury 29.99] felt really good, because we’d spent so much time conceptualizing and working on the name and samples and graphics…so to finally release it, and then to actually see people wearing it, felt amazing.
We actually officially launched it while we were in Europe. Dane [Reynolds] was over there working on a SURFER profile. After that, I spent some time at home, then went to Tahiti with Leroy Bellet, and I just got back from a boat trip in the Ments, filming with Thomas Campbell. We got Rags Right, Lance’s Left…a bunch of fun waves, but nothing crazy. I was with Alex Knost, Ozzie Wright, Jared Mel, Ryan Burch, and Bryce Young. Great crew, really fun trip. It was all shot on 16 mm. I remember when we filmed for Slow Dance with Dane, we shot a bunch of 16 surf stuff, and I always felt a bit of pressure, because you’ve got a limited amount of rolls and it’s expensive. But I didn't even think about that on this trip. We were having too much fun, I guess.
Has your mindset changed now that you’re working for your own brand, rather than for someone else’s?
F--k, I don't know. For some reason, when we were making Slow Dance, I felt pressure. Like I had to perform a certain way. But it was all just me putting that pressure on myself. I think I’m just more comfortable with where I am in my life these days, and so everything is just happening a lot more naturally.
I’m sure you still have a lot you want to accomplish on a surfboard, but are your goals more business-oriented these days?
I’m still really enjoying chasing waves and filming for video parts, so that part hasn't changed one bit. The Former thing is fun, really. There’s not that much pressure. We have a group text where everyone is always chiming in and talking shit. There’s definitely a work aspect to it, but at the end of the day, it’s just a brand with five friends, and we have a couple guys in place that take that business pressure off me. The best thing I can do is surf. That’s kind of what I should stick to [Laughs]. But to be making stuff we want to wear and then selling it, and working on edits and projects we’re excited about it, it’s been fun to watch it all evolve and grow. Myself and Dane have control over a lot of things, but we delegate a lot, and everyone who is a part of the brand has a really good working dynamic.
You’re removed from the 'CT, but are you still paying attention to competitive surfing?
I am, for sure. One of my good friends, Ryan Callinan, he breathes it, and he gets me psyched on it. To see how motivated and driven he is in that competitive world is inspiring. I enjoy surfing on a different level, but to spend a lot of time with him pushes me in a different way. We watched the J-Bay contest last week, so it’s cool to have him around to keep me psyched on that world. Otherwise, I might just spend my life chasing 4-foot waves and riding single fins [Laughs]. I have a ton of respect for the guys competing. I was watching the contest the other day, thinking I could never surf a wave that good.
Is there anything in particular you’re hunting for the rest of 2017?
I’m going to go back to Europe later in the year to spend a bit more time in Portugal. Project-wise, I’m a little in limbo. I have some bigger ideas, and I’m banking some stuff. But I’m mostly excited to surf really good waves and film and and see where that goes. Hopefully, I’ll start working on another short film, because the last one was a lot of fun. I just need a few sessions to come together to get the ball rolling. Aside from surfing, Former is nonstop, and I also really enjoy one-off projects like this one with Steve Wall and Dave Fox. I’m psyched with how this all came out.