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The Surfing Lifestyle that brought about Surf Clothing

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Queen Ka'iulani of Hawaii
Queen Ka’iulani of Hawaii
It was speculated that the sport of surfing was spawned in the South Pacific more than 4,000 years ago. (Visualize naked Polynesians paddling out on large boards into an un-crowded lineup). Eventually the sport of surfing ended up in Hawaii. It was there that the first white man saw the sport of surfing and it was also the first known mention of surfing in writing, which painted a picture of an exotic and curious diversion greatly enjoyed by the locals.

Then it wasn’t until about after World War II that surfers were considered to be unconventional free spirits, with the media images generated after the War setting the stage to transform surfing from a sport into a lifestyle. Surfers and surfing were considered by the youthful generations as being cool.

As surfing appeared in more advertisements and in movies and TV shows, the lifestyle of surfing took off. Soon subcultures developed, like windsurfing, kiteboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding, which brought with it their own trends, slang, clothes and graphics. By the eighties, major endorsement deals offered to the athletes and a growing casual clothing market, soon dominated by surf wear, further commercialized the sport.

The Bikini

The Bikini
The Bikini
The modern bikini swimsuit was first invented by French engineer Louis Réard in 1946. The name was taken from the Bikini Atoll in South Pacific, where post-war testing on the atomic bomb was happening. In the 1960s, the bikini appeared on the cover of Playboy and Sports Illustrated, giving it additional acceptance in the USA. In 1962, Ursula Andress, while wearing her white bikini in the James Bond movie Dr. No, further increased the swimsuit’s popularity.

As the bikini gained wide acceptance, it also became a symbol of “The Power of Women” and not “The Power of Fashion”. By the early 2000s, the bikini had become a $811 million dollar US industry, which in turn boosted new businesses such as bikini waxing and sun tanning.

The Boardshort

Early Quiksilver Boardshort for Women
Early Quiksilver Board Short for Women
Although there has always been a small tribe of women surfers throughout the ages, it wasn’t until Quiksilver came out with the very popular women’s boardshorts in the 90’s and the big movie hits about female surfers, that the sport experienced a surge of women paddling out into the lineup. Soon the majority of surf wear companies began to see their women’s division becoming the fastest growing market segment.

In the 1990’s surfing saw a new surge of older surfers heading back out into the water. These surfers, who gave up surfing because of the time commitments to raising small children and buying homes, helped boost the longboard market and a new outpouring of surf lifestyle clothing.

Despite the conflict of commercialization versus the personal pursuit of the wave, surfing continues to inspire a global following of participants and admirers. Drawn to the mystique of an alternative lifestyle and an endless summer, the lure of the wave and the images it inspires, the surfer endures as one of the most universally recognized symbols of personal freedom.

As the owner of Surfergirls.com, my goal is to promote women and girls who love to surf, embrace the ocean and the simple lifestyle. Surfergirls.com provides information about surf camps, the environment, surf clubs and photos of women in the waves. I live in North County San Diego and want to share the surf lifestyle with like-minded women and girls. You can view more of my surf photography on Surfline.com.