So – this Easter time, when everyone was either glued to their telly watching the Royal Wedding (or to their desk, if they were on Team Grazia) SOMEONE managed to escape the hype and fly off to sunny Los Angeles on a mission to explore Californian surf culture and fashion . . . and where better place to start, than with one of the biggest surf brands in the world – Quiksilver Women?
John Moore, the creative director for the womenswear side of the surf brand, has his headquarters in a studio cum gallery space he set up himself. Called the POP Gallery (short for the Pencil on Paper studio) it features cool pieces of surf-related art and ephemera. In true hippy style, John Moore doesn’t just take inspiration from the artists he shows in his gallery – he collaborates with them to create the prints for t-shirts and other garments.
John showing the bloggers a chiffon blouse from the S/S collection
In person, John Moore is gentle and charismatic with twinkly eyes and curly surfer hair and that beard (just look at it!) Enthusiastic about the clothes and the brand he becomes most animated when talking about the artists he supports in his gallery in LA and any pieces ‘with a story behind them’
There's that blouse again! Worn with Quiksilver Women's shorts, ancient boots and a pendant and sunnies from vintage shops in LA
When we ask him about the Royal Wedding he’s like – ‘oh yeah, I heard the bride wore McQueen – I was like, that’s so radical that she wore that – so rock ‘n roll!’
Speaking of a personal high point in his career at Quiksilver; ‘When I saw Stephanie Gilmour [world champion women’s surfer and ambassador for the brand] wearing our shorts when she was surfing in a competition, I was like, that’s so awesome I was about to lose my mind!’
An installation in the POP Studio
He takes pieces from the Spring Summer and the next Autumn Winter collections and enthuses about a particular button, or even rivet (the tiny studs on the corner of jeans pockets) and tells us why he chose a particular part. He takes jeans and denim shorts and turns them inside out to show us the fabric used to make the insides of the pockets. He loves showing of the textiles, like French terry cloth or a particular wash of denim and explaining why it’s better. He explains that when he and his team set out to make a new piece, they always think of the touch and feel as much of its visual impact – ‘we’d like to think that if you were in a completely dark room a full of clothes you would chose the Quiksilver ones because they are the softest, nicest to touch clothes – you could tell a Quiksilver piece by touch alone.’
Artwork in the studio
It’s easy to think of a brand like Quiksilver as a commercial, global set-up that exists apart from high fashion. It’s true that, when a catwalk designer starts a collection, they can begin almost from scratch and create something original from whatever muse has taken them that season. When John and his team have to work on things they have a lot more parameters to work within; to make something functional and in keeping with the brand identity, and perhaps that is why he became so obsessed with tiny details.
A close-up of the prints in the collection
But his stamp of individuality on the collections comes from mining the surf brand’s archives, using details or logos that were created in the ‘70’s and had since been forgotten, but there’s another aspect too. Because he and the design studio are so completely immersed in LA surf culture – the colours of sea, sand and driftwood, hanging out on the beach and in thrift stores, working with fine artists, everything goes back to the coast. That is the spirit of the clothes and the end product is something designed to be worn, washed and worn again for years, and everything is made to have a lifespan of far longer than a comparable garment that conforms to a particular seasonal trend. ‘Yep – almost all our clothes get nicer as they are washed and worn in and faded. Nothing is too precious’
What an inspirational place! (And the clothes aren’t bad either). See below for more images of the collection . . . or click on quiksilver-store.com