For some, surfing is about grace; for others, it’s about athleticism. But at the end of the day, what matters most is style. How you carve, float, or walk the nose. In such a sport, the tiniest details can define the way you feel in and out of the water. But these days, it can seem like surfing has been usurped by the very companies-turned-conglomerates that started out as the little guys selling boardshorts out of their trunks. Here we present eight local companies that remain committed to detail and true to their inspirations—whether it’s honoring the Hawaiian roots of the sport or keeping the whole family involved.
Straw Hat Makai
These impeccable wetsuits made with Japanese rubber are blind-stitched (so no seams are showing) and glued by hand at a factory in Japan that’s been perfecting the craft for 45 years. Shown: women’s 2mm wetsuit, $260; men’s 2mm tank top wetsuit, $170; bag, $80; all available at Hawaiian South Shore surf shop.
Jess Shedlock got her start in Honolulu with repurposed vintage, patch-pocketed denim cutoffs. Since then, she’s expanded her line and moved along to Los Angeles, but she continues to pay homage to her island origins, in this case with a light surf/yoga legging to protect those gams from the sun. Shown: Pakala Surf legging, $30; available at wonderlandhonolulu.com
For the founders of BRLS, GoPro mounts just weren’t up to snuff, so they created their own. Assembled on O‘ahu with materials made in the United States, these mounts feature suction cups that don’t use adhesive (so they will work again and again) and are made with curved surfaces in mind, from surfboard to canoe. Shown: GoPro mount with reusable suction cups, $49.95; available at select surf boutiques and brlshawaii.com
“Designed by Hawaiians,” these shirts are printed and hand-dyed in Kaka‘ako on buttery soft shirts made of organic cotton grown in the U.S. The indigo, a signature of the line, is even cultivated in Hawai‘i.
Shown: Pule for Surf shirt, $68; And The Rest Is Salt And Sea Foam shirt, $68; available at select surf boutiques and salvagepublic.com
Of One Sea
Owner and designer Maryam Fortuna was inspired to start Of One Sea by a song she sings with her children. Her line, appropriately, encompasses the whole family, including these boardshorts for growing boys (which are also made for grown men), and towels handcrafted in Turkey of organic cotton or bamboo for those hanging out beachside. Shown: kids four-way stretch retro surf trunks, $45; indigo multi-stripe bamboo Turkish towel, $50; available at select boutiques and ofonesea.com
Island Fin Design
Founder Steve Mock has been making surfboard fins since 1979, and his work is easily recognized by his signature stripe. Today, he handcrafts a wide variety of fins, including the aloha print inlay model, at the Waialua Sugar Mill. Shown: Leeward fin in matte aloha, $78; Nui fin in matte yellow and black, $80; Barracuda fin in white and blue, $72; available at various locations and islandfindesign.com
What started as a trans-oceanic artistic collaboration became Quality Peoples, with half of the duo based on the North Shore of O‘ahu. Forget the high-tech materials—these throwback shorts are dip-dyed and made in the U.S. with 100 percent cotton. Shown: Pupukea dip-dye shorts, $125; available at select surf boutiques and qualitypeoples.com
“I wanted something small enough to fit in anyone’s trunk but that still had decent float. On a small day, you can take the fins off and go bodyboarding,” says Alex Nguyen about Ninja’s creamsicle-shaped boards. He, along with three others, dream up, shape, and glass the Ninja Surfboard creations. Shown: Creamsicle surfboard, 4’0” (available from 3’11”-5’2”), custom pricing; learn more via Instagram @ninjasurfboards.