Surf brand of the year is Outerknown

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In 2015, professional surfer Kelly Slater and designer John Moore launched Outerknown with a clear vision: to merge their respect for the environment with an unwavering commitment to quality craftsmanship. This vision wasn’t just about making clothes; it was about setting a new standard in the surfwear industry.

The name Outerknown refers to “the furthest reaches of our knowledge today.”

Before we go deeper, we’re pleased to announce that Outerknown is our favorite surf brand of 2024. Read on to find out why.

Geniya is wearing the S.E.A. Suit in size XS

Core Values: Sustainability

When you look closely at the surf brand Outerknown, you see a company that lives its values. Sustainability isn’t just part of their business model; it’s the heart of it. They use organic cotton, recycled nylon, and eco-friendly dyes to ensure every product is kind to the planet. This commitment challenges us to consider how the choices we make can impact the world around us. Outerknown is ambitious in its goals, aiming to make 100% of its products circular by 2030. Currently, 75% of their fabrics and 50% of their products meet circular standards, paving the way for a more sustainable fashion industry.

Sustainability Framework source:

Key Stats and Takeaways from Outerknown’s Sustainability Efforts

Environmental Impact

  • 1,818 Garments Recycled: Through the Outerworn platform, 1,818 pieces of clothing have been kept out of landfills, promoting a sustainable lifecycle for garments.
  • 95% Preferred Fibers: An increase from 87% in 2021, showing a stronger commitment to using sustainable materials like organic cotton and recycled fabrics.

Community and Worker Impact

  • $133,000 to Workers’ Livelihoods: Contributions via the Fairtrade Premium have supported programs like healthcare, scholarships, and housing.
  • Supporting Global Non-Profits: Partnerships with organizations like The Ocean Cleanup, Ocean Conservancy, and Surfrider Foundation underline Outerknown’s commitment to environmental advocacy.

Innovation in Sourcing and Farming

  • 67% Supply Chain Diversification: A strategic shift to suppliers that prioritize human rights.
  • 28 Acres Converted to Organic Practices: In collaboration with Bergman Rivera, enhancing the sustainability of cotton production.

Circular Economy Initiatives

  • Rescued Materials: Project Vermont has repurposed 960 lbs of denim and 400 lbs of wool, transforming them into useful products like bags, mittens, and blankets.
  • Renewable Energy in Operations: 8 facilities now run on renewable energy, reducing carbon footprint.

Future Goals

  • 2030 Sustainability Goals: Committed to continuous improvement and achieving a fully circular model by 2030.
  • Regenerative Organic CertifiedTM Practices: Expanding the impact on farmland and increasing the production of sustainable cotton.

Imagine if every brand was this clear about their purpose-driven objectives.

Craftsmanship That Lasts

Every piece of clothing from Outerknown is a testament to durable design. Whether it’s their silky Apex trunks or rugged selection of blanket shirts, these items are crafted not just to be worn but to be lived in. They resist the wear and tear of sea and land, proving that style and sustainability can coexist.

The brand’s commitment to design and quality doesn’t end at production. They extend the life of their garments through repair and resale initiatives, ensuring that each piece is loved for as long as possible.

What surprised us most is that Outerknown gear still looks good years after purchase. Brad’s original blue blanket shirt is perfect after four years of long-haul flights, camping, business meetings, adventure, and lounging around.

Brad said, “The blanket shirt is my favorite piece of clothing. I’ve gone camping, forgotten to bring a jacket, and was saved by my blanket shirt. On that trip, I wore it day and night, including to sleep, and I love it more than ever.”

Ethical Practices: Good for People and Planet

Outerknown stands out for its ethical approach. The brand ensures fair labor practices and creates positive ripples in the communities where their products are made. It’s about being good neighbors, about making integrity and accountability foundational to their operations. They maintain FLA accreditation and are transparent about their supply chain, ensuring that their garments are produced under fair conditions. This openness is part of their appeal, as they invite consumers to join them on a journey toward greater transparency and responsibility in fashion.

Circular Economy: A Vision for the Future

Outerknown isn’t just participating in the industry; they’re leading it toward a circular economy. This is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. It emphasizes reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible to create a closed-loop system, reducing the need for resource extraction and minimizing environmental impact.

Outerknown’s commitment to rethinking how garments are made and used means focusing on recyclability and innovative use of materials. By 2030, they aim to have all products be fully circular—designed to last and then born anew. This involves developing commercial solutions for end-of-life products, including creating a market for recycled materials and innovating new ones. In 2025, they aim to have piloted or scaled 10 different circular technologies and innovations industry-wide, demonstrating their role as a catalyst for change.

Circularity at Outerknown source:

Why It Matters

Choosing Outerknown is more than a purchase; it’s a stance. It’s about endorsing a future where fashion respects our finite resources. It’s about wearing your values. My own wardrobe bears witness to this—pieces from 2016 remain not only wearable but cherished. This is no small feat in our fast-fashion world, where the average consumer throws away 70 pounds of clothing annually.

Outerknown’s approach dramatically reduces this waste, not just saving clothes but also conserving the resources used to make them.

Community Engagement and Activism

Outerknown’s impact extends beyond the products they create. They actively engage in community initiatives, focusing on water stewardship and protecting ocean health. These efforts are crucial, as water is the “lifeblood of humanity” and central to their brand legacy. They collaborate with strategic partners to tackle issues like ocean pollution and water scarcity, aiming to ignite a global community of climate activists and water stewards through education, advocacy, and philanthropy.

Unifying Forces: Outerknown, Firewire and Slater Designs

Dylan Slater, a seasoned surf industry veteran, is now steering a new holding company that unites Firewire Surfboards, Slater Designs, Outerknown, and Endorfins. This strategic move pools resources to boost competitiveness and market reach, covering apparel, surf hardgoods, and accessories across roughly 60 countries.

As of early May 2024, details such as the name of the holding company and total employee numbers remain under wraps. Dylan’s leadership follows his roles at Rip Curl and as president of Firewire, setting the stage for innovative market strategies.

The formation of this collective aims to harmonize product lines and customer engagement. John Moore, Outerknown’s co-founder, sees this as an opportunity to broaden the brand’s horizon, enhancing the Outerknown experience and introducing new categories to their audience.

Kelly Slater is particularly enthusiastic about nurturing the core surf community. The group plans a new line crafted with surf shops in mind, reinforcing support for independent retailers. Kelly emphasized the importance of this focus: “Developing special products for surf shops is not just a passion but a necessity.”

Sustainability remains a cornerstone for the group. The combined strength under one roof aims to expand their pioneering sustainable practices across the surf community, demonstrating a commitment to responsible business.

This union marks a significant evolution in the surf industry, promising innovative approaches and stronger community ties. It will also undoubtedly improve the workplace culture at Outerknown, where there have been whispers of burnout, which is common in purpose-driven startups.

Our Favorite Items from Outerknown

Brad’s favorite items are, without a doubt, his Blanket Shirt, slim-fit Jeans, and Groovy Pocket tee. As mentioned before, he has been loving blanket shirts since way back — check out our previous review.

Regarding the blanket shirt, Geniya wholeheartedly agrees with Brad. She said, “As the days grow colder here in New Zealand and we transition into chilly weather, the blanket shirt has become my essential layering piece. It’s incredibly comfortable and versatile, making it difficult to choose anything else from my wardrobe. Outerknown offers a wide range of colors in the blanket shirt, catering to every taste. It’s a must-have for everyone’s closet.”

Geniya is wearing the Blanket Shirt in size XS

Geniya is wearing the Blanket Shirt in size XS

The blanket shirt pairs perfectly with the Saltwater Slub Tee. Geniya said, “This tee’s got that iconic super-soft slub texture that feels amazing year-round. It’s like your favorite go-to tee, crafted with Regenerative Organic Certified® cotton, so it’s got that perfectly worn-in look and feel right from the start. Trust me, you’ll be wearing this combo on heavy rotation.”

The S.E.A. Jumpsuit is undoubtedly the standout in the women’s Outerknown range. Geniya said, “I’ve always been intrigued by this jumpsuit despite not having a shop in New Zealand where I could try it on. Jumpsuits were never really my thing; in fact, I’d never owned one before. But this one had me curious, even though I wasn’t sure how it would fit since I bounce between XS and S in different brands. Finally, last year, I got one in a beautiful sand color. When it arrived and I tried it on, I was immediately hooked. The XS size fit me perfectly, and the style and fit were impeccable. Not to mention, the material is incredibly soft and comfortable, making the SEA Jumpsuit my go-to item for the entire summer. I literally couldn’t bring myself to wear anything else, much to Brad’s bemusement. His frequent question of why I always wore the jumpsuit received a simple answer: it’s my favorite piece in my wardrobe. Without a doubt, I’ll be purchasing this suit in a different color for the next summer season.”

Geniya is wearing the S.E.A. Suit in size XS

Conclusion: Beyond a Brand

Outerknown is more than a brand; it’s a call to action. It champions a surfwear revolution rooted deeply in the principles of sustainability, quality, and responsibility. It invites all of us as surfers, adventurers, and citizens to think differently about our apparel choices.

As I gear up for another day in our changing world, replete with waves and chaos, I’m not just picking out a shirt or shorts; I’m choosing a future. And with Outerknown, it’s a future I believe in.

Congratulations, Kelly, John, and the team at Outerknown for proving that business can be a force for good.