As the co-founder of surfwear brands Gonz!, Warriors of Radness and Brothers Marshall, surfer Chad Marshall is well-positioned to tell us what’s fashionable on L.A.’s beach scene
Author Jacqueline Detwiler Photography Jessica Sample
You’re out on the beach all the time, so you really get to see a lot of L.A. surfer fashion. What should a visitor wear to blend in?
Fashion in the surf world can be very much about following the herd. People look in a magazine and say, “Oh, I’m gonna wear this new Kelly Slater board short because Quiksilver told me to”—but in L.A. it’s not really like that. Because we’re right on the coast, you get such an eclectic group of people from all walks of life; any kind of style fits in. It’s not like a sleepy little surf town where everybody is wearing a Patagonia jacket. Here, you get people who surf, but it doesn’t really define them. It’s just something that they do to pass the time. They’re musicians or they’re directors or they’re doing this or that. So there’s a lot of individuality in clothing.
But there has to be some surf style that’s popular these days, right?
The big thing in Venice Beach right now is the boutiquey, clean-cut surf guy—a shabby-chic preppy look. That’s very in right now. You see guys wearing tighter jeans with some topsiders and a striped Hang Ten T-shirt or a Hawaiian shirt or something like that. It’s kind of like a smart, fashioned-up surf bum. Most of the people who buy my stuff in Venice Beach dress like that.
So people aren’t still surfing in brown and white board shorts?
A lot of surfwear used to be ’70s-inspired, but now it’s kind of heading into the ’80s. Gonz! was one of the first companies to start redoing ’80s-inspired stuff, like neon colors. Now my brother and I have started a Japanese surf wetsuit company that makes fluorescent wetsuits—you know, because everyone wears standard black wetsuits. We make crazy neon ones. A lot of people in Japan wear them, actually. They’re very tailored; they take something like 30 measurements and then they’re custom-built.
Talk us through what you’re wearing now.
I’m wearing a Brothers Marshall T-shirt, a Brothers Marshall hat and vintage Levi’s 511s. The shoes are from a collaboration that Mollusk, the surf shop I co-own, did with Generic Surplus, this L.A.-based shoe company. And the shirt is a vintage Hawaiian shirt. They’re really coming back.