Surf brands are open all season. They can be found anywhere – inside surf shops, street stores, local surf spots, shopping malls, and online retail shops. Their line includes boardshorts, wetsuits, apparel, footwear, watches, and surfing accessories.
They show that there is more to surfing than just surfboards. Riders love to look like pro surfers – to make them feel like they belong. It doesn’t matter whether they can conquer the biggest of waves – they’ve been conquered by surf fashion.
The market has hundreds of surf brands. Some of which operate on a global scale with offices internationally and flagship stores in key surf cities. Others are simply new surf insignias that are popping up that boast about new solutions, designs, and approaches.
The surf industry, being in the quite demanding game has limited brands in producing the entire surf products. Specialization became the synonym of the surf brand survival. Trends and technologies that keep changing make these brands experience quite a challenge to stay afloat.
With all that being said, here are the best surf brands that have survived, remained, and are continuing to provide the best surf items.
The Best Surf Brands in the Market Today
- Rip Curl
- The Critical Slide Society
#1. Quiksilver –“Stay High”
The most iconic surf brand that has founded generations of progression and innovation – Quiksilver has been providing the best of the best to surfers everywhere since 1969. What was then a small store in Torquay, Australia is now a Huntington Beach, California-based, and one of the world’s largest brands of surfwear and boardsport-related equipment.
Quiksilver is under the Boardriders, Inc. umbrella, who owns other brands like Roxy and DC Shoes. The logo which was designed in 1973 was by its founders Alan Green and John Law was inspired by the Japanese painter Hokusai’s woodcut – The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The logo depicts a large wave with a mountain on a red backdrop.
This surf brand started in a simple surf lifestyle but has now evolved into an influential brand that delivers excellent fashion for anyone seeking performance and comfort in the scene of adventure sports. Part of their growth as a brand is their line of ski and snowboard apparel and accessories.
Today, they continue to be one of the top brands in both surfing and snowboarding. Year after year, they keep their momentum in innovation, continuing to inspire and facilitate the adventure-seeking lifestyle of their clients.
Official Site: www.quiksilver.com
#2. RVCA – “The Balance of Opposites”
Pronounced as “rew-ka,” RVCA’s name was first developed out of the “V” and “A” that symbolizes the balance and opposites and how they live side by side – nature and industrialization, woman and man, past and present, future, today, and tomorrow. And, life above all.
The brainchild of PM Tenore, RVCA transcends the limits of traditional action sports apparel. A design-driven lifestyle brand free from passing trends, it appears as a natural on shelves of boutiques of local skate shops.
Tenore’s original intention was to create a platform for RVCA that combines art, music, fashion, and a modern lifestyle distinctively. The forefront of this vision has been RVCA’s Artist Network Program – a venture that was founded to showcase the talents of both accomplished and unknown artists that inspire our generation.
For RVCA, the main goal is to promote the authentic integrity of RVCA’s subcultures while at the same time giving back to the community. RVCA redefines the essence of viewing art as a representation of how everything co-exists.
RVCA is about today, tomorrow, and life as the big picture. Their designs and concepts are all about inspiring this and future generations to provide products of substance and culture.
Official Site: www.rvca.com
#3. Volcom – “True to This”
Founded in 1991, Volcom was inspired by creative spirit to create products for the determined who are true to their passions – those who were born to chase what they are true to, not because they want to but because they have to.
All of Volcom’s vision started when its founders, Richard Woolcott and Tucker Hall set off on a snowboarding trip that forever changed their lives. With one of them laid off from work, this trip plus an initial $5000 from Richard’s father, Volcom was born.
Woolcott and Hall took the chance when snowboarding and skateboarding were looked down upon in the US. It was during the time of recession with riots in LA and the Gulf War just breaking out. They believed change was in the air.
True enough, with few travels around the world set on journeys with friends to ride whatever they could, the two pushed through with the business. With the headquarters set up in Woolcott’s bedroom and sales run in Tucker’s, the two had little to no idea how to make clothes.
Backed with spirit and creativity, their wild beginnings had them first-year earnings of $2,600. Since then, they extended slowly across the world. Still running with the same philosophy they started with but now with more mature ideas.
Official Site: www.volcom.com
#4. Patagonia – “We’re in business to save our home planet”
One of the biggest names in outdoor wear started not as an apparel company but a team of people excelling on black smithery and selling items for rock and mountain climbing. It would not come as a surprise considering the founder started climbing at a very young age.
Yvon Chouinard started by teaching himself how to blacksmith. What he learned had him selling his pitons Before he knew it, the word about his works has spread. He eventually had to build a small shop for these accessories.
Part of his ventures with mountain climbing accessories was coming up with the most sustainable outdoor wear for rock climbing. As the company grew, Yvon saw the opportunity to help support the marginally profitable hardware business with clothing.
The team started selling rugby shirts from England, polyurethane rain windcheaters and bivouac sacks from Scotland, boiled-wool gloves and mittens from Austria, and hand-knit double-sided beanies from Boulder.
From quick-drying insulation to underwear made of polypropylene to Synchilla®, the company slowly but surely grew from what was then a mountain climbing accessory shop to an active sportswear shop.
Official Site: www.patagonia.com
#5. Vissla – “Creators and Innovators”
A brand that was founded after the sales slip of Billabong, Vissla is an international Surfing and Apparel Retailer that sells athletic gear and casual streetwear. The company seeks to represent creative freedom with a forward-thinking philosophy, through its generation of creators and innovators.
Vissla embraces the latest and modern do-it-yourself attitude within surf culture, performance surfing, and craftsmanship. They draw influence and design from their team of artists and surfers. From streetwear to surf wear, you will have something you need from their shelves.
While they are not selling through large multi-brand online retailers, their step to stick with independent specialty surf stores works with a younger market who are looking for attractive prints and well-priced wet suits.
They are also growing their name’s popularity in terms of their efforts in minimizing their environmental impact and protecting the oceans and waves that are raising their business. Theirs is a surf-everything and ride-anything mentality.
Official Site: www.vissla.com
#6. Billabong – “Life’s better in boardshorts”
Billabong had a simple concept. They want to be remembered easily. From slogan with strategic elements to taglines that are amusing and witty – they simply wanted to convey their message effortlessly.
Billabong International Limited is a prime clothing retailer that also makes accessories like watches, bags, skateboard, and snowboard items. Although the company was founded in 1973, it wasn’t until August of 2000 when they first traded in the Australian Securities Exchange.
The name is derived from the Wiradjuri word “bilabaŋ” which means a “creek that runs only during the rainy season.” Founded by Gordon Merchant in 1973, it started as board shorts designs that he later on sold to local surf shops.
Its durability earned him a popularity that he understood he needed to expand. Gordon started to sponsor contests to increase public awareness of his products. By the 1980s, Australia became aware of Billabong.
Over the years, along with its development are acquired brands and retail outlets. It soared to success until trading of its shares halted at the company’s request due to takeovers that happened in 2012. Despite the collapse, its current chief executive remains positive with the company’s growth and increased earnings.
Official Site: www.billabong.com
#7. Hurley – “Wear Your Favorites”
An American multinational corporation engaged in design, development, manufacturing, worldwide marketing and selling of surf apparel and gears, Hurley is one of the biggest names in Sportswear and Sports Equipment.
Headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, the company started in 1979 by the then 23-year-old Bob Hurley. He partnered with Bob Rowland and Business Manager Joe Knoernschild to bring Hurley Surfboards//International Pro Designs (I.P.D.).
While the team started to become one of the premier shapers in SoCal, they licensed the US rights to the then up and coming Australian surf brand Billabong. They were Billabongs US, founding partners. With Billabong doing fairly well in the market, the team decided by 1999 not to renew the USA license for Billabong.
Thus, the birth of Hurley. Hurley catered to men and women with the principle of inspiring and fueling the voice of the next generation. They partnered with a team that features an eclectic group of talent. They worked with the world’s best musicians, surfers, skateboarders, and more.
Hurley sat as the global benchmark for performance in and out of the water with their disruptive innovation that is of a unique blend of style and performance.
Official Site: www.hurley.com
#8. Roxy – “Let the sea set you free.”
Daring, confident, naturally beautiful, fun, alive: that is Roxy.
They are your go-to apparel store if you love to embrace the world of possibilities each day has to offer. Made specifically for anyone seeking out adventure and new experiences. A surfing brand catering for women all around the world, Roxy has been inspiring women since 1991.
Roxy facilitates an active lifestyle with products that compliment it. The surf brand evolved later on into a global sports brand that caters to the latest in women’s trend and fashion.
While the core of Roxy still lives in the spirit of surfing, they also are a well-known snowboard brand. They are making waves in the fitness community as well. The vibe it gives is contagious, motivating, and innovating.
Official Site: www.roxy.com
#9. Rip Curl – “Live the search”
A designer, manufacturer, and retailer of boardwear, Rip Curl is one of the largest surfing companies in Australia, Europe, South America, North America, and South Africa. They are globally recognized as a successful member of the “Big Three” of the surf industry alongside Quiksilver and Billabong.
Rip Curl was founded in 1969 by Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer. The team initially produced surfboards. It was in the 1970s when they decided to venture into the production of wetsuits, emphasizing on transforming the diving technology into a wetsuit that is suitable for surfing.
In 2019, Rip Curl celebrated 50 years in the industry. They marked their golden year of surfing and wanderlust. Their involvement in competitive surfing became clearly evident that today, they have nine corporate licenses that make and sell Rip Curl products in countries like the USA, France, South Africa, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Chile.
Official Site: www.ripcurl.com
#10. The Critical Slide Society – “Inner Vision”
The Critical Slide Society is an Australian brand that was established in 2009 in a sleepy bayside village on the Central Coast of NSW. The founders – Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes had the vision of a genuine, creative label to use as a platform of an emerging alternative movement for surf culture.
The team works with artists, photographers, designers, and surfers from all around the globe. Each of them brings a distinctive outlook that they use as inspiration.
The Critical Slide Society takes pride in its unique approach in its detail-oriented designs. They bagged Best Boardshort for two years running and they are now stocking up in some of the most respected retail stores in the US and nearby countries.
Official Site: www.thecriticalslidesociety.com
#11. Outerknown – “People and Planet”
With a tagline that says people and planet, Outerknown, a clothing company that markets surf wear makes its product out of eco-friendly raw materials. Launched in 2015, they live by the philosophy of doing things the right way.
The geniuses behind the brand – John Moore, an acclaimed designer, and Kelly Slater, 11-time world surf league champion. Both teamed up to build a brand that reduced environmental impact. This was after seeing the effect of the clothing industry had on the environment.
Since then, they vowed to create clothing that was not only mindful but reflected the style and values of the modern-day rider.
Official Site: www.outerknown.com
#12. O’Neill – “Psychotically warm —-Unreasonably lightweight”
O’Neill’s tagline communicates a lot about their specialty. Founded in 1952, they are the original California surf, snow, and style brand. With the founder Jack O’Neill taking his unstoppable passion for surfing, he used this as a chance to battle Mother Nature.
The initial vision was to produce functional and innovative board riding items, all of which are still lying at the core of everything the company does. Eventually, they went to produce their first neoprene surf wetsuit and board leash that later on turned to the world’s first stitchless board shorts.
A lot of things have changed since O’Neill’s humble beginnings yet, their vision of creating useful and inventive board riding products endures to lie at the core of everything the company does.
Official Site: www.oneill.com
Wearing a Surf Brand
The multi-million dollar industries behind world tours, sponsoring professional riders are anything but periodic. They go on even when it is out of season. They cater not just to pro-surfers.
It may help if you surf, but it also doesn’t matter much. Whether you are a beginner, a seasoned rider, a shaper, or someone who just wants to look cool without even putting feet to wax, you can wear a surf brand.
Looking as cool as a surfer will have you bin the snapback, throw the trash and purchase the right shirt from the right brand. You may pair these with some naturally or artificially bleached hair, trashed jeans, and an oversized scoop neck.
Finish it with a sockless Vans, a senselessly comfortable jacket – and you’ve turned yourself into a cool surfer dude. It’s sorta the equivalent of a cool skier wearing their ski branded fleece. Make sure you don’t start talking about the weather like a thoroughly prepared meteorologist or you’ll come out too strong a surfer.
You may also lean towards dressing like a skater, which in reality is more like a surfer. You can match up chinos, button-ups, and crew neck t-shirts. This will instantly turn you into a classy globetrotter with plenty of money for traveling and surfing.
There is an insane number of surf brands all over the world. Each has its line of focus – some with aesthetic, some quite broadly. Some have visions with social responsibility, some with philanthropy.
When you are in the lookout of the best surf brand, you may want to know more about their background first, and see if their history is the kind you want to put your style and lifestyle’s foundation at.
Do you have a favorite surf brand that’s not included on the list? Tell us about it in the comments sections.