Elevens is a series of posts devoted to this smashing new year of ours.
We dispatched our team of surf pundits to suss out what’s new in 2011. Today, guest writer Lincoln Eather of the Empire Ave. blog lays out 11 little brands doing big things this year. (Actually, Lincoln made it an even dozen. We’re welcome.)
The brainchild of snowboarding legend and original Forum team rider Joni Malmi and Jesse Hyvari, Makia started with the concept of quality over quantity and with a strong focus on the timeless classics. Makia isn't out to dress you head to toe, but rather be a feature and something that can go with anything you choose to grab and wear every day. Plus, these guys are always up for drink or two. But be warned, get into a drinking bout with them and be prepared for a monumental night of fun and a hangover to match the next day.
Who is SLVDR? Born in California and influenced by the world, SLVDR creates high-quality, well-considered designs. Well, that’s what the tag on their website says. Yep, you’ve probably heard something similar uttered before. But take a chance and look a bit deeper -- these are the same guys that are bringing you BOND outerwear, so they know what they’re doing. From what we’ve seen they are pushing a simple, clean look with the brand that showcases a more refined style, and are continuing on with the organic theme running throughout BOND. 3 MODERN AMUSEMENT
This might be a long shot, but hey, it’s Marty McFly time. After hearing these guys went belly up, then hearing the other day they got new investors, it kinda got us excited to see what’s going to be happening. Who’da thought a crow would create so much hype? On top of dropping pieces which at the time were considered fruity, I’m pretty sure these guys were the first on the scene with above-knee trunks -- which are now a staple in everyone’s range. If MA are coming back, get excited. 4 RAKE
Possibly a little too “Hi ho sailor” for some, RAKE have been doing a bang up job lately of producing some real nice looking tees. If captains smoking pipes, anchors and navy stripes get you excited, you’ve hit the jackpot with the brand. Their trunks are pretty neat too with some comfy cotton numbers. Beyond the clothes though, RAKE are shaping up some crazy looking sleds that should get you amped to shred (or at least attempt to), logs, mini Simmons-inspired boards and others are all finished with the type of polish that would make Mr. Sheen smile. [Editor’s Note: We think this is an Australian cultural reference and should not be cause for alarm.] 5 DEUS
Deus are bringing that whole motorbike/cafe racer vibe through to surf with product that can fit into your active lifestyle. Think ’50s retro Cali beachwear meets the 1940’s underground race fiend. The best thing about this brand is that they are legitimately into the small niche lifestyle and the excitement of being involved translates into the product. There’s the occasional oddball piece in their range I wouldn’t touch with my dad’s fashion sense, but largely they are coming out with pieces that ooze a unique, cool quality. If you can afford one, their motorbikes are super rad with a cherry on the exhaust. 6 CLAE
Clae isn’t a new brand by any means, but they have gone through a restructuring phase in recent years which has lead to new owners and a renewed focus. After having a bit of trouble finding themselves in their first run out a few years back, they have now cemented themselves as a smart, casual footwear brand within the street/lifestyle scene. Putting out styles that you can rock during the day or look smart with out at night, Clae is def. a brand to watch. 7 S/DOUBLE
I’ll be honest, I sat for about 30 minutes trying to write all sorts of stuff to explain what was going on here. But it’s always the simple approach that can work best. Shawn Stussy, the guy that brought us the Stussy brand 30 years ago, is going round the block again. This time with S/Double, a project that is allowing Shawn to showcase his efforts in a clean and simple approach. This stuff is just good, hard pressed to find anything shit in his range. 8 BELLROY
With the whole “Modern Refined” look coming through right now, Bellroy sit perfectly in that group of brands that rises above the teen influenced surf looks and over the top luxury brands. Designed for the person who appreciates quality and aesthetics, Bellroy go one step further in doing away with the harsh chemicals associated with chromexcel tanning in favor of a more environmentally friendly veggie tanning approach. In addition, the bulk that often results from most card holders and wallets was something Bellroy felt they needed to address -- kiss goodbye that George Costanza-style wallet if you’re holding one of these. 9 COMUNE
Raw, imperfect, edgy. Combine that with a stylish art direction and you have a brand, COMUNE, that is showing us how to push past the current boundaries of this industry we love. Their mission? Simple: “Our goal is to provide clothing that reflects this lifestyle of carefree idealism and to support the people that choose to live it.” While their first couple of ranges started out real raw, they have pulled it in a touch to show a more refined look. Everyone wants to look good, right? Well, start here and now. 10 MODOM
Modom’s whole reason for existing is to bring some fun, focus and modern thinking to a category that seems forgotten by surf. Leashes and pads could be, more or less, categorized as the forgotten child of the surf accessory word -- but weirdly enough, these guys are amped on them. With a new take on packaging and a new material for leashes, these guys have started strong. Add to that a team consisting of Tom Whits, Mark Mathews and man of the moment Craig Anderson, you can be sure that this will probably be their breakout year. 11 PUBLISH
I just stumbled across this brand the other day. Publish, from Santa Ana in California. They are about to drop their debut collection and it’s nice. It’s not skate, it’s not surf, it’s just nice. Thought it might good to share something new with you. It might have been the jazz music in the clip that grabbed me, or the fact the garments look real good. The line has a distinct jazz, a little more mature, I-want-to-look-good feel to it. 12 WARRIORS OF RADNESS
Remember fluoro crew necks with sleeve prints? Remember riding skateboards that were wider than your feet, with a tail kick on one end? Remember flat top hair cuts? Well, Warriors of Radness do, and they consistently recreate that vibe in each of their ranges. This new brand is the brainchild of Freshjive founder Rick Klotz and is, well, rad. What a mad name. They seem to be going by the acronym W.O.R. as well at times. It’s cool to see some different stuff. It’s utterly Californian, so you pretty much need to be a bleach blond weirdo to be able to wear it.
Lincoln Eather is one of two engineers behind Empire Ave. and can be followed on Twitter @theempireave.