And then I watched him win world title after world title.
What impresses me about Kelly is how he challenges himself in every aspect of his life. It’s not enough to just be a great surfer – he reads, he researches, he probes. He has not addled his mind with the drug and drink the way so many have. He is dangerously sober.
When I heard about Outerknown I was excited. Departing from longtime sponsor Quiksilver and starting his own label seemed like a bold move. But I know that Kelly does nothing in half measures. When I heard that ace clothing designer John Moore was involved I was even more excited. John (aka Juan Mas) has been the designer for Hollister, Modern Amusement, M. Nii, and Quiksilver Womens. He has a fabulous mood board in his office, full of iconic and arcane pics from the 20th century. He also has one of best beards I’ve ever had the pleasure of rubbing my face against (a botched hug). Like Kelly, he pours everything he’s got into his work.
Several months ago, they asked if I wanted to be involved. Not as a traditional team rider (I’m 48, my cutback grows new kinks with every year), but more as a brand ambassador or flag flyer. Some talented people are involved: filmmakers, photographers, inventors. We’re a think tank of sorts. I’m in ‘cause I’m hoping we’ll all do a surf trip together. I’m in for the conversation.
I dig the clothes. I’ve grown out of most of the surf labels. Outerknown is more upscale, sophisticated. I know that Kelly and John have gone to great length to bring quality and sustainability to the product.
Sounding too much like a press release of the vanilla and cautious variety?
Okay. I’m in ‘cause Kelly and John are my friends.
I’m in ‘cause I rarely see Kelly these days, but when I do he inevitably brings up some little moment from the two-plus decades we’ve known each other, impressing me with his astonishing memory, and with the fact that despite his big, glamorous life, he is present and authentic.
I’m in ‘cause when my wife died suddenly a couple years ago Kelly wrote me an amazingly heartfelt condolence letter. I’m in ‘cause we live in a world starved of soul, and I see lots of it coming from the Outerknown crew.