SI Vault
 
HIGH SURFDOM
May 18, 1964
Surfing has developed a cult with a language of its own, fashions of its own, a dance of its own. On these pages five top California surfers wear current favorites in competition trunks. Following are more surfer styles that jumped to California from Hawaii and are now being adopted by surf-struck youngsters around the world
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
May 18, 1964

High Surfdom

Surfing has developed a cult with a language of its own, fashions of its own, a dance of its own. On these pages five top California surfers wear current favorites in competition trunks. Following are more surfer styles that jumped to California from Hawaii and are now being adopted by surf-struck youngsters around the world

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

The new look of surfing separates the hot-doggers from the gremmies, the wahines from the beach bunnies—but not the boys from the girls

The surfboard carried by Mary Sturdevant (right), a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, weighs only 22 pounds. It is made of buoyant poly-urethane foam, and maneuvers so well that it has given surfing a great boost as a coed sport.

With the advent of hundreds of girl surfers, the gremmie of yesteryear—a long-haired, unwashed, blue-jeaned rowdy—is vanishing from the scene, and today's hot-dogger is a clean-cut type who wears trunks custom-made in Hawaii and a T shirt bearing his club's name.

Mary's two-piece suit is this year's innovation for girls. Made by Spooner's of Waikiki in a Polynesian print used wrong side out so it looks faded, it is lashed to the girl with white tapes that will hold in the event of a wipeout, which is what it sounds like: a losing encounter with a wave or another surfer.

Beachside suitmakers who cater especially to surfers are Take, M. Nii and Spooner, all of Oahu; and Hang-Ten, a Long Beach firm whose name is surfer slang for the difficult feat of surfing with 10 toes hanging over the nose of the board.

Men's trunks, shown on the preceding pages, are made of sturdy fabrics: Japanese rice bags, nylon sailcloth or Army duck. The trunks are usually laced for adjustability and comfort when the wearer is belly down on a surfboard. Just as utilitarian is a hip pocket for the wax that a surfer uses on his board top for better footing.

Girls' suits are essentially adaptations of men's styles; they are made in similar fabrics, and with the same white-tape trimming. Styles change each season, since surfers set their own fashions and will switch as soon as imitators catch up with them. The giant swimsuit houses, such as Jantzen and Catalina, then rush the favorites to every beach in America.

On the way to a beach—preferably in a "woody," or vintage wood-paneled station wagon that has been lovingly restored—surfers wear nylon shell parkas over their surf suits, a look borrowed from skiers. For post-surfing warmth on the beach they prefer bright-colored sweat shirts, and there is even a white-band-trimmed pullover, made by Hartog of California, that has been endorsed by the three-year-old United States Surfing Association.

What extra swing there is in surfer fashions pops up at beach parties (following pages). Beach bunnies, girls who don't surf, and wahines, girls who do, both wear surfing hip-riders and bikinis. How do you tell one from the other? This year if she wears white lace over her bikini she's a bunny.

1