SURF'S UP TO BLUE SKY THINKING

“Blue sky thinking” are words that big business turned into a cliché of creativity. But look at the phrase another way and it might be an appropriate summary to describe California attitude. This disposition has fueled 20th century youth culture, the West Coast gift not only to itself but the world – sport, art and music are united in lifestyle panorama, spawning teenage tribes.

 

Carol and Humberto pay homage to CA, their home state, for the Spring/Summer collection, from beach towns on the Pacific Ocean to underground music. Tidal, fluid, beach nonchalance with hand-drawn prints reflected their view of life where surf is so ingrained in the culture you don’t talk about it – because nearly everyone does it.
 

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It was land Baron Henry Huntington who brought board riding to the sunshine state in 1907 after witnessing Hawaiian boys rolling on the crest of waves on vacation. Arriving at Redondo Beach, it would grow to become the first contemporary West Coast subculture, give music a new sound, surf rock, in the 60s. This youth liberation heralded its own language and style, where (later) you could align yourself to whatever board company you fancied through baggy, logoed tee-shirts.

 

From surfing you naturally get skateboarding, born out of an urge to make concrete-covered-land (and empty pools) as gnarly as clipping waves in the sea. So exciting it had to be photographed and with the dawn of VHS camcorders, filmed for skate videos. Bang! With that its fashion was immortalized – and referenced – as a lifestyle, spawning more and more new street wear labels and providing fashion with an enduring fixation.


Musically, if you think of California, you’ll probably arrive at hardcore and rap. Thank Los Angeles’ South Bay and Orange County for the former, and Watts and Compton for the latter. Hardcore in particular built a vocabulary with its graphic sleeves, going on to influencing fine art. Though CA’s first generation of artists inaugurated themselves in the 50s and 60s, with the legendary Ferus gallery, a time LA is said to have been the most rock ’n’ roll city in the US for its emergence of exper-imental new music.


Now, a potted history of subculture in California needs time, research and a lengthy thesis. But what you’ll hopefully get is that everything is interlinked, from surf to style to sound. And in a state where the car is king and youth travel, it spreads (high five for getting a driving license at sixteen).

Lifestyle is the word, a place where one thing informs another. That’s why it’s such an exciting breeding ground for expression, and has been for over the last 50 years. Plus the sun always shines – that, at the very least, is why surf’s up.