As a designer you can’t fault Paul Smith for what he has achieved and the part he has played in reinforcing British design globally.
The process of collaboration beyond ones ‘established’ territory is obviously nothing new and something Paul Smith has actively been a part of for some time.
As a studio of cyclists we have watched (and purchased) from the growing Rapha brand for a a long time and with a number of land locked surfers sat behind Macs we were interested to see the recent Paul Smith collaboration into the world of surfing with Swami’s.
Surfing is one of those activities where the real money is in the pseudo surfer – get the kit, live the brand and your a real surfer (even though you can’t stand up!). Don’t get me wrong, from a business perspective it’s a great plan and the sensible approach to take and the market I’d target if starting a surf label tomorrow.
It will be interesting to see how the Swami’s brand develops as first indications are that it may take a Rapha route – building on the deeper culture, routes and heritage of the sport.
Just as Rapha shunned the bright lycra and EPO image for one of understated style, simplicity and quality, so my feel is that we will see Swami’s avoid the stereotypical blonde haired surf dude and pursue the route of the soul surfer.
Culture, creativity, travel and exploration playing as big a part as that of the quality of the waves and performance of the quiver.
The realm of the longboarder has grown massively over the past years as the surf culture has spread and the need to find a board that can compensate for the 40 year old accountant as opposed to the 14 year old shortboarder has grown.
As such, the injection of some ‘old school’ style back into the surf industry is not new but I feel the scope to take this further is very much there and it will be interesting to see where it goes.
Without doubt it will be an interesting marriage between classic tailoring and understated class and a counter-culture industry built on adrenalin and anarchy.
We will observe patiently and perhaps make the odd purchase along the way…