When Kelly Slater left Quiksilver in 2014, it was clear he had something big in the works. Why else would the most famous surfer on the planet part with a company to which he was loyal for twenty years?
Slater is ambitious. He has 11 World Championships on top of his other entrepreneurial ventures like Kelly Slater Wave Company, proving he is passionate about creating.
Meanwhile, his Los Angeles-based men’s clothing brand, “Outerknown,” has been growing steadily, if not silently, over the past year. The company, which is backed by the Kering Group (owners of Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Gucci, Puma, Volcom, Saint Laurent Paris and more) apparently aims to blend high-fashion with surf wear. This inference is drawn from the fact that Outerknown’s recycled nylon swim trunks are marketed at $95, while its pocket tees go for $128. With price tags in the high double and even triple digits, it is no surprise consumers want to know exactly what they are paying for. But perhaps more telling of the times is the trend amongst companies to enhance the transparency of their manufacturing processes. A trend which has recently served to reveal ethical and moral issues in the mass production of both food and textiles.
Thus, Outerknown has released the names and locations of eight of its manufacturers. The manufacturers are: Bergman Rivera and World Textile Sourcing in Peru, Chen Feng Apparel and Chuang Sheng Knitting in China, Hong Ho Mexico in Mexico, Smart Shirts Limited in Sri Lanka, South Island Garments in Malaysia and SoCal Garment in Vernon, Calif.
Shelly Gottschamer, Outerknown’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer, credits Slater with the decision to release the company’s manufacturing information to the public. According to Gottschamer, “Kelly asked: ‘What am I wearing and where does it come from?'” A question that all consumers should consider.
Outerknown has shared the “history of each supplier, its address and number of employees.” This will allow for potential customers to fully grasp where and how the clothing is created. In doing this, Gottschamer hopes Outerknown’s example will be followed. “Other brands can look at this as an inspiration and also publish their suppliers.”
Outerknown’s prices are steep. This is an objective fact when one compares the company’s clothing to that of other surf based clothing brands. However, there is a definite peace of mind when one knows that the products he or she buys are made in accordance with fair labor laws, and these are the type of customers Outerknown is marketing to.