Last week, the most famous surfer on the planet launched a new men's clothing brand called Outerknown. It's been in the pipeline since Kelly Slater, the 11-time World Champion left Quiksilver in 2014 after 23 years, to set up a strategic partnership with the Kering Group, who also own Volcom.
All along his message has been, these threads will look good but they will also be sustainably made. They won't come out of sweatshops and we'll do what we can to minimise our environmental impact. These were his words:
“The name Outerknown references the furthest reaches of our knowledge today. As designers, it challenges us to build better, more sustainable products. As producers, it asks us to lift the lid on our supply chain bringing the consumer along on our journey to transparency…"
Kelly Slater has long championed eco issues so this was no surprise. What was a little more surprising was the reaction to this new range when it dropped last week. While fashion titles and GQ loved it, surfers poured on the bile. Mostly to moan about the prices on social media, for example:
The thing is, the Outerknown range is expensive. £270 for a hoodie is nuts. But so is all ecological fashion. The problem is the cheap throwaway fast fashion made by kids in sweatshops that no building inspector in this country would ever approve, that's what's thrown our perception of the whole equation.
And after a week of social hate including this message on Instagram:
Get yo head str8 de man @kellyslater I don’t want to hear it’s your fault. You should have known the prices before It went live. Think about your roots. Could your mom have afforded this when you were growing up? Get real man. As a fellow Floridian I am disgusted. Way to represent surfing and surfers and sustainability.
How is it sustainable when you have to spend so much money to buy a t-shirt? As others have said, it’s totally possible to have a sustainable eco friendly product at a lower price point. You better say something to the media soon because your credibility has gone way down by having your name associated with this shit brand.
Which was quoted on Surf Europe via Beachgrit, Slater snapped and posted this response:
You’re gonna use my mom against me? My mom couldn’t afford lunch when I was growing up! I didn’t have two pairs of clean socks as a teenager, literally. So please tell me what exactly is it I owe you again? Someone got a gun to your head to purchase a higher end brand item? Did someone say this was a high volume, low price play? The amount of hatred is next level from dipshits like yourself.
I’m a big boy and can stand up for myself. Feel free to unfollow or be blocked. No problem. I honestly don’t mind either way. When the surf product comes out people will learn about it. If people actually want to know the story of how the brand was created and what things cost to be done on certain levels, that will come out. The personal attacks and name calling have been nothing short of unbelievable. People need to grow up.
Surf Europe's former photographer Timo Jarvanin then posted this, which to us reads fully spot on:
All you crybabies need to wake up, nobody gave more to surfing than Slater and as far as i know this is a free world where one can create any kind of a business they ever wish. If OK is outside of your budget then don’t buy it, easy as that. The fact that it makes all the ferals cry tells a lot about the demand.. Lots of wasted energy here.
Would it be better if OK comes out with a cheapo line of t’s and beanies targeted to all you who are angry enough to spill your guts out due hatred? Would you then be happy, wearing those mentioned $10 t’s and beanies whipped up by child labor for your pleasure? You are giving away plenty print designs here, for free, since sounds like you’d be happy to walk around wearing a t with a massive photo of sweatshop printed in it.
As for the clothes. Some bits looks rad, others don't. Some bits look a little ripped out of Finisterre's playbook, others don't. See what you think at Outerknown. If you love it, sweet, if not maybe keep it to yourself. And if you wouldn't say it to Kelly Slater in the street, you probably shouldn't be posting it on his Instagram feed.