You can not, without straight up lying to my face, tell me you haven’t at some point in your life wished you could surf. There’s just something about the laid back personae of those who do, the cool surf-culture and its history rooted in Ancient Polynesia (Summer Heights High, anyone?). It’s a sport of beauty and danger where a force of nature can act either as your teammate or enemy. Surfing is athletic, rigorous, exhausting and yet the lucky ones who can call themselves true surfers seem to have a deeper level of peace. What is that? I want that.
After a few surfing lessons that didn’t necessarily go awry but certainly haven’t rendered me a Blush Crush just yet, let’s just say I’m not quitting my day job (sucks for you because my day job is writing at Man Repeller!). I’ve raised my white flag to the literal ocean and instead get my kicks from Endless Summer, Lords of Dogtown, lo-fi music and now — thank you, designer suggestion box — the Spring 2014 runway.
There were Polynesian prints at Marc Jacobs, Marni, Suno and MSGM. Separately, hip slung board shorts and flat sandals ran amuck on the runways, and jam band inspired hemp-jacket coats made the comeback that your friendly neighborhood college stoners never saw coming at Peter Som. We passed a wink to the Phish-concert wardrobe staple in our second NYFW round up, but didn’t expect that for the rest of the week, old-school Venice Beach would be having a redux of its own.
While two of the mentioned designers showed their collections in Milan, the rest of the trend found itself pretty firmly planted in America. Surfing is by all means an international sport — those who surf know the best waves are off the coasts of Australia, Japan, Fiji and other far-away places — but there’s something about the surfer as a personality that’s decidedly American, if not completely Californian.
Also American (though perhaps we don’t want to get too excited in our country’s claim on this one) is the tourist. Yes, every human who has ever traveled to a place that is not their own backyard has been one. But the word “tourist” conjures up such a specific image in my head that only exists — in extreme self-parodying, almost cartoon-like form — within the strict confines of a United States citizen embarking on some sort of walkable adventure.
Think Tevas, sneakers, sun protective visors, bright Hawaiian shirts or some other short sleeved button down in a Chevy Chase-friendly print. The tourist is ready to tackle a tour of old Prague thanks to his or her sensible shoes and pocket-filled cargo shorts, because where else does one keep their passport and traveler’s checks? But never before has the tourist’s wardrobe been so absolutely covetable as during September’s shows, where embarrassing dad gear actually became cool — maybe that’s because the motif is tethered to that of the superior surfer’s. Either way, I’m still looking for a fanny pack.
Here’s a song to get us in the spirit. Happy Friday!