Today, O’Neill is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading active lifestyle brands. While many things have changed since the company was founded by Jack O’Neill in 1952, one constant has remained: the brand’s unshakable determination to inspire people and empower them to get the most out of their passions. Here, we’ll chart the remarkable journey of the brand– a journey beginning with one man’s love for surfing and his unique imagination.
As a young man, Jack O’Neill settled in Northern California. Inspired by the natural beauty of the NorCal region, Jack found it increasingly agonizing to be stuck indoors, making a living as a window and skylight salesman. He felt a strong bond with the rugged NorCal coastline and untamed ocean, and was spending as much time as possible in the bone-chilling water. Whether Jack was surfing, body surfing, swimming or sailing, the ocean provided him with a welcome release from everyday pressures.
The more time Jack spent in the ocean, the more time he spent researching and developing a solution to the problem posed by the waves of Northern California: how to withstand the sub-50°F water temperatures for longer periods. Jack wasted little time in rising to the challenge posed by Mother Nature, shifting his creative and innovative mind into gear. Reflecting on those first years of experimentation with plastics, as well as his reputation as the pioneer of the world’s first wetsuit, Jack summarizes the seemingly insurmountable challenge he faced with beautiful simplicity: “I just wanted to surf longer.”