With Mistral’s latest 2019 range of retro-inspired casual wear just having been released, it’s perhaps interesting to consider the sub-culture of surf branded clothing, which is set for an overdue comeback to popularity. Any association with the world of surfing has been a powerful mechanism for selling a dream, an idea through the power of association. Windsurfing has strong associations with the surf as does SUP and indeed many other related sports.
Surfing and the very culture that surrounds it has always alluded to a Bohemian anti-authoritarian attitude that migrated from the beaches to streets in the form of apparel and more besides. Beginning casually as far back as the 50s it represented the beginnings of apparel that was uniquely idiosyncratic and casual. Skateboarding is no more than surfing on wheels over paved streets and tarmac roads and mirror images in no small way, the same rebellious, freedom of spirit mindset of their perceived reality.Surf wear hit our streets before skateboard wear, but it had set the tone for the future of street and urban wear. Since the 70s and 80s the wearing of soccer related clothing introduced track pants, hoodies and trainers to the mix with skateboarding evolved at a similar time, but it was not until the 80 and 90s we were hit with the tour de force of their apparel range.
Surf wear ultimately peaked when it fuelled a move from back yard business to multi-national status and ultimately became the victim of itself, by being backed and lead, not by those who were anti-authoritarian or non-conformists, but indeed by men in suits with stocks and shares, being indeed the antithesis of all things Bohemian. This led to many underground brands evolving in response to a rejection of the major surf brands, who were being seen in super markets which robbed them of their status and kudos.
Skateboard wear and indeed athletic wear ultimately took over and in some sense felt more at home in the backstreet of suburbia and the cities, but ironically, it remains less relatable than the allure of azure seas, trade winds and soft lush sand beaches which much better reflect the idea of paradise and ideology than that of the grimy streets of the world. Fortunately, the whimsical nature of fashion dictates by default that fashion ultimately comes back around and as such, we now have neons colours gracing the streets and beaches once more, all the while our love of the water has never fallen out of favour.
Mistral has the envious position of being neither hard core grunge surf orientated, nor skateboard aggressive, but rather, Mistral has always provided a synergistic feeling of good times and an upbeat positive feel for life, symbiotic with the world it lives and therefore not at odds with it, nor with life. It’s neither anti-authoritarian nor so laid back to be benign. The appeal of Mistral is universal at it crosses genders, oceans and is as happy on the beaches or on the streets.