Beach culture is an iconic look that has come and gone through the decades, from radical '60s surf culture to sun-bleached long locks and today's man buns. The revolving door of surf style continues to influence music, lifestyle and fashion. But this summer, the fashion industry bids farewell to Stacy Peralta's signature blonde mane and welcomes an edgier 'Bondi' look that's infiltrating luxury brands with HQs that are hundreds of thousands of kilometres away from Australia's beach capital.
Bondi Beach is our very own hub of hipster-meets-surfer-boy chic with its effortless cool and free spirit that's engrained in Aussie culture and now rapidly taking off overseas, impacting high-end luxury fashion brands and establishing itself as the It-look for summer '15.
Surf/skater boys hold a dishevelled poise with a mixture of aptitude, oblivion and peacefulness in the way they move, dress, and act that is eternally alluring to fashion industry insiders. These urban beachside dwellers have a particular groove about them, usually with only a few things in focus: clean waves, sun, a decent kerb and a good burrito.
In their spring/summer '16 men's show, Saint Laurent showed 77 looks that embraced these elements, melding surf bum with sophistication. The exhibition of mismatched patterns, denim vests and bomber jackets paired with ripped denim jeans appropriated everyday style for a high fashion audience.
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Photographed and driven by Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane, the Psych Rock collection shows all the hallmarks of a misspent youth on the beaches of our beloved shores.
Recently I chatted to self-proclaimed king of swag Timmy Swallow, photographer and the creative director behind youth agency The Lagoon Collective. Swallow's vision is up there, poised at the top of the ramp when it comes to Bondi Beach surfer/skate chic. He captures the locals in quirky moments of spontaneity that aren't fashion-focused but more a lifestyle bathed in subtle dreamy light, resulting in unsuspecting sensuality in an otherwise alpha male world. "From surfside sea towns in Spain to New York's Fifth Avenue and onto the Hamptons, whether you have or have not ever stepped into the ocean, people want to buy into brands that represent this laidback aesthetic," he tells me.
The essence of what 'the swag masters' are about has trickled down through the halls of fashion and now onto the coalface of business, Swallow admits. "It's completely acceptable to arrive at a meeting wearing ripped jeans, $300 boots and the remnants of zinc on your face, because ultimately you look fresh, fit and have been indulging in how most people would like to start their day," he says.
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"The surf bum attitude has changed somewhat to surf sophistication," Swallow continues. "Bondi was considered a ghetto in the '80s, nicknamed "Scum Valley". The beaten up 4WD has been replaced with Range Rovers driven by latte sipping, career-hungry go-getters who use the ocean as a way to escape the 9-5. Bondi has vastly changed into the place to be; where you can work and live while also enjoying the ocean."
Ultimately the new-founded friendship between Bondi surf style and international luxury fashion houses still has a lot in store for us, but in Tim Swallows' words, "Long gone are the days of three-quarter length board shorts, thongs, white sunglasses and bongo beads."
... Or are they?