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  • Andrew Cowell


“In the tropical waters of Hawaii,” writes Paul Holmes, in the Quiksilver tome, The Mountain and The Wave, “the only equipment that’s really needed for surfing is a board and a pair of boardshorts or a swimsuit.” But when the English mariner Captain James Cook arrived in 1778; the first Westerner to witness surf riding, the locals didn’t bother with anything more than the essentials – “they surfed naked.”

The European missionaries who followed Cook soon put a stop to that. The constraints of Victorian age social mores, missionary-style, and white-bread modesty ended a centuries-long tradition of unrestrained, unadorned, naturistic fun.

Swimwear made from either cotton-twill or sail cloth and specifically designed for surfing made its first appearance at Waikiki in the 1930’s among the beach boys. Custom-made, close-fitting shorts with their mid-thigh length – called Baggies -- were favored over their commercially made cousins. They prevented the joyless irritant chafing, gotten while sitting atop a wax covered surfboard. Although favored for their form and function, their distinctive style and surf look -- still witnessed today -- drove the visiting masses to want to look and feel the part of the beach boy/surfer lifestyle; thus the worldwide surfwear industry was born.

But before the Quiksilver’s, Billabong’s, Rip Curl’s, et al, arrived on scene, the specialty custom surf trunk business was a cottage industry deeply rooted in the Southern California beaches of the 1950’s. Surfside based Kanvas by Katin, boat-cover makers by trade, began making trunks in 1954, more to appease the indefatigable pestering of the flea-sized gremmie and future U.S. Surfing Champion, Corky Carroll. The diminutive Nancy Katin, known as the “first lady of surfing,” along with the legendary Katin seamstress Sato Hughes have swathed both surfers and beach goers in the distinctive look, comfort and fashionable function of boardshorts for 63 years.

Hobie Alter on the other hand entered the fray of the surfware business fully formed; shoot, he invented the lifestyle we see today. Hobie’s story is legendary. He revolutionized the manufacturing of the surfboard by inventing the polyurethane surfboard blank, developed the user-friendly, beach launchable Hobie Cat Catamaran, and when the whisperings of the surfwear industry sang on offshore breezes he partnered with McGregor Sportswear. Together they created McGregor Surfware designed by Hobie; introducing trunks, nylon jackets, and T-shirts, another first.

What appears before you, and for your enjoyment, is the collaboration of two of the most respected, legendary surf brands known. The accumulation of 63 years of inspiration, innovation, and fun in the sun, sand, and surf. Enjoy.

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