Professional surfer Kelly Slater wasn’t kidding when he said he was splitting from longtime sponsor Quiksilver after 23 years. The world champion is preparing to launch his own ready-to-wear line for men and women. Poised for release sometime this fall, Outerknown, as the label is called, has already struck a partnership with Kering, the luxury-goods conglomerate behind brands like Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Gucci, Puma, Saint Laurent, and Stella McCartney. With GQ Best New Menswear Designer John Moore as creative director, and an advisory board that includes former Barneys New York fashion director Julie Gilhart, Outerknown will endeavor to bridge the gap between sports and luxury, while building “better, more sustainable products.”
INFINITY AND BEYOND
“For years I’ve dreamt of developing a brand that combines my love of clean living, responsibility, and style,” Slater wrote on his Facebook page back in April. “The inspiration for this brand comes from the people and cultures I encounter in my constant global travels, and this is my opportunity to build something the way I have always wanted to.”
In a later statement, Slater emphasized our responsibility as inhabitants of Planet Earth. “As global citizens, we have an obligation to build better products and understand the way our consumption impacts others,” he said. “I am constantly traveling and observing the multicultural world we live in, and Outerknown is a brand that references my travels, and stands for the values I believe in.”
Despite Slater’s background, it’s important to note that Outerknown isn’t a surf brand, he added. Rather, it will pull together elements of the surf, designer, and technical worlds to create versatile, functional products “without an expiration date.”
At the same time, Outerknown will strive to bring something that is sustainable, ethical, and/or traceable into every node of the supply chain, including mandated auditing processes to ensure working environments that are more than socially compliant. (Shelly Gottschamer, previously of Patagonia, will serve as director of supply chain and sustainability.) Materials will range from organic cotton to polyester derived from recycled fishing nets.
The brand’s ultimate goal? One-hundred percent transparency, according to Slater—not because it wants to be preachy, but because it’s the “right thing to do.”