10 Iconic Surf Brands That Defined Vintage Style [2024] 🌊

people walking on street during daytime

Remember that old Quiksilver tee you unearthed from your dad’s closet? Or that faded OP boardshort you found tucked away in a dusty box? Those vintage surf gems aren’t just relics of the past – they represent a timeless style that continues to inspire today! Dive into our comprehensive guide to 10 iconic surf brands that shaped a culture, from the sun-drenched beaches of California to the rugged shores of Australia. We’ll explore their signature designs, iconic logos, and the stories that fuel this enduring vintage trend!

It’s more than just nostalgia, folks. Vintage surfwear is a portal to an era of carefree beach living, rebellious spirit, and bold fashion choices. You’ll discover how these vintage brands evolved – from functional gear to fashion statements – and how they’re influencing contemporary styles even today! Ready to ride the wave of vintage surf? Let’s go!

Quick Answer

  • Vintage surf brands like Ocean Pacific (OP), Hang Ten, Gotcha, Quiksilver, and Billabong defined a unique style that blends surf lifestyle, bold colors, and iconic logos.
  • Authentic vintage surfwear is valuable and sought-after by collectors.
  • Modern surf brands draw inspiration from these classic designs and continue to push boundaries in style and performance.

Ready to add some vintage surf vibes to your wardrobe? Shop these iconic brands online!

Table of Contents

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Vintage surf brands often feature iconic logos, bold graphics, and bright colors 🏄‍♂️. Think palm trees 🌴, waves 🌊, and surfboards 🏄‍♀️!
  • Authentic vintage surfwear can be valuable! Keep an eye out for classic pieces in good condition at thrift stores, online marketplaces, and vintage shops. You might just find a hidden gem 💎.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match! Vintage surfwear is all about creating your own unique style. Pair a vintage tee with your favorite boardshorts or a flowy maxi dress with sandals for a chic and effortless beach look.
  • Care for your vintage finds! Properly storing and cleaning your vintage surfwear will help preserve it for years to come.

The Golden Age of Surf Style: Tracing Vintage Surf Culture’s Roots

Video: Tracing the roots and evolution of surfing 100 years on.

Ah, vintage surf culture… the scent of saltwater and coconut sunscreen, the feel of sun-warmed sand, and of course, the iconic threads! 🤩 But it’s more than just a vibe, it’s a story that’s been decades in the making.

This aesthetic we love? It sprung from the sun-drenched shores of California and Australia in the 1950s and 60s. Surfers, those tanned and fearless wave riders, needed clothes that could keep up with their active lifestyle. Out went the stuffy formality of the times, hello practicality and comfort! Think durable boardshorts, comfy tees, and those iconic Hawaiian shirts we still rock today!

But it wasn’t just about practicality. Surfers injected their own free-spirited, rebellious attitude into their clothing. Bold logos, bright colors, and graphics inspired by the ocean and surf lifestyle became symbolic of this new wave of cool. 🌊

The Evolution of Vintage Surf Clothing

Video: surf fashion evolution.

Remember the days of baggy boardshorts and oversized tees? Yeah, vintage surf clothing has seen some serious transformations over the years! Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

From Functional to Fashionable

Early surfwear was all about functionality. Thick cotton tees, durable canvas shorts, and those classic “woodies” (surf wagons!) were the uniform of the day. But as surfing gained popularity in the 60s and 70s, so did surf style. Enter brands like Ocean Pacific and Hang Ten , introducing bright colors, bold logos, and graphics that screamed “beach vibes”.

Check out our 2023 Vintage Surf Clothing Brands: A Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane for a deeper dive!

The Rise (and Fall…and Rise Again!) of Neon

The 80s were a wild time, weren’t they? 😜 Neon colors exploded onto the scene, and surfwear was no exception. Brands like Gotcha and Body Glove ruled the waves (and MTV!) with their eye-catching designs.

Back to the Future…of Fashion

Today, vintage surf clothing is as popular as ever. Why? Because it represents a time when life was simpler, more carefree. Plus, those classic designs never really go out of style, do they? 😉

Want to incorporate vintage surf style into your wardrobe? Check out our guides on Surf Fashion and Surfing Fashion for inspiration!

Iconic Vintage Surf Brands


Ready for a roll call of surf legends? Let’s reminisce about the brands that shaped a culture:

  1. Ocean Pacific (OP): Ah, OP. These guys practically invented beach cool 😎. Founded in 1972, OP became synonymous with bright colors, bold stripes, and those instantly recognizable logos. They were the brand for anyone who wanted to capture that laid-back California surf vibe.
  2. Hang Ten: Remember that iconic “10 Toes Down” logo? Yep, that’s Hang Ten. Founded in 1960, they were all about classic surf style – think boardshorts, graphic tees, and those cool woven sandals.
  3. Gotcha: Gotcha burst onto the scene in the 80s with an explosion of neon colors and bold graphics. They weren’t afraid to push boundaries, which made them a favorite among the younger generation of surfers.
  4. Quiksilver: Hailing from Australia, Quiksilver has been a staple in the surf world since 1969. Known for their high-quality surfwear and innovative designs, Quiksilver represents that adventurous, performance-driven side of surfing.
  5. Billabong: Another Aussie brand that needs no introduction, Billabong has been crafting stylish and functional surfwear since 1973. From boardshorts to bikinis to hoodies, Billabong embodies that relaxed, effortlessly cool surf lifestyle.

These are just a few of the legendary brands that come to mind when we think vintage surf. What are some of YOUR favorites? Tell us in the comments below! 👇

The Revival of Vintage Surf Culture

Video: California surf culture: New book looks at the life of early 1900s legend George Freeth.

What’s old is new again, right? Vintage surf culture is back in a big way, baby! And honestly, we’re stoked! 🙌

It’s more than just nostalgia. This revival is about embracing a simpler time, a time when life revolved around sun, surf, and good vibes. ✌️

Here’s why we think vintage surf culture is riding a new wave:

  • The Allure of Authenticity: In a world of fast fashion and mass production, people are craving something real, something with a story. Vintage surfwear offers that connection to a bygone era, a time when brands were built on passion and authenticity.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Consumption: The fashion industry is a major polluter. Opting for vintage clothing is a sustainable choice that reduces waste and minimizes your environmental impact. Plus, you’re giving those pre-loved pieces a second life! ♻️
  • Individuality and Personal Style: Vintage surfwear allows you to express your unique style and stand out from the crowd. It’s about finding those one-of-a-kind pieces that speak to you and your personal story.

From vintage shops popping up everywhere to mainstream brands drawing inspiration from classic surf styles, it’s clear that the vintage surf revival is here to stay. And we’re totally here for it! 🌊

Vintage Surf Fashion: A Timeless Trend

Video: Vintage clothes Of The 70's.

Okay, let’s talk fashion! What is it about vintage surf style that keeps it so fresh, even decades later? Let’s break it down:

  • Laid-back Vibes: It’s all about embracing a relaxed and effortless approach to style. Think sun-kissed skin, salty hair, and those comfy, lived-in pieces that just make you feel good.
  • Comfort is Key: Unlike some fashion trends that prioritize looks over comfort, vintage surfwear is all about feeling good in your own skin. Baggy tees, flowy dresses, and those oh-so-comfy boardshorts… need we say more?
  • Boldness and Individuality: Vintage surf style encourages you to embrace bold colors, patterns, and graphics. It’s about expressing your personality and standing out from the crowd.
  • Nostalgia and Storytelling: Each vintage surf piece has a story to tell. Whether it’s a faded OP tee from your dad’s closet or a pair of thrifted Quiksilver boardshorts, these pieces evoke a sense of nostalgia and connection to the past.

Collecting Vintage Surf Gear: A Guide for Beginners

Video: How to Identify & Authenticate Vintage T-Shirts (with examples).

Ready to start your own vintage surf collection? Awesome! Here are some tips for newbie treasure hunters:

  1. Do Your Research: Familiarize yourself with different brands, logos, and styles from various eras. There are tons of resources online, like our very own Surf Brand Guides, to help you spot authentic vintage pieces!
  2. Start Local: Check out thrift stores, consignment shops, and flea markets in your area. You never know what hidden gems you might find!
  3. Explore Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay, Etsy, and Depop can be treasure troves for vintage surfwear. Just be sure to check seller reviews and item descriptions carefully.
  4. Inspect Before You Buy: When shopping for vintage, always examine the condition of the item. Look for any signs of wear and tear, stains, or damage. Don’t hesitate to ask the seller for more photos or information.
  5. Start Small and Build Gradually: You don’t need to amass a massive collection overnight! Start with a few key pieces that you love and build your collection gradually over time.

Pro Tip: Join online communities and forums dedicated to vintage surf culture. It’s a great way to connect with fellow enthusiasts, share finds, and learn from experienced collectors!

Where to Find Vintage Surf Gear: A Treasure Hunter’s Guide

Video: Vintage Wholesale Guide | How To Get A Better Haul and Bigger Profits!

Ready to embark on a vintage surf treasure hunt? Here are some of our favorite hunting grounds:

  • Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops: These are great places to find affordable vintage surfwear. Be prepared to dig a little (okay, maybe a lot!), but the thrill of the hunt is half the fun! 😉
  • Flea Markets and Antique Malls: Another great option for finding unique and affordable vintage surf gear. Check your local listings for upcoming events!
  • Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay, Etsy, and Depop have a huge selection of vintage surfwear from all eras.
  • Specialized Vintage Stores: Check if your city has any vintage stores that specialize in surfwear or sportswear. These stores often have a curated selection of high-quality vintage pieces.
  • Online Auctions: Websites like LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable often feature vintage surf gear in their auctions.

Remember: Patience is key when hunting for vintage treasures! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away. Keep exploring, stay persistent, and you’ll eventually score some epic vintage finds!

The Value of Vintage Surf Gear: A Collector’s Perspective

Video: Vintage Surfboard Collector Club @ The Boardroom Show 2021 .

Ever wondered if that old OP tee from your dad’s closet is worth anything? Well, the value of vintage surf gear can vary widely depending on several factors:

  • Rarity: Items produced in limited quantities or special-edition pieces are generally more valuable.
  • Condition: The better the condition of the item, the higher its value. Look for pieces that are free from stains, tears, and fading.
  • Brand and Era: Certain brands and eras are more sought after by collectors. For example, vintage pieces from iconic brands like OP, Hang Ten, and Gotcha from their peak eras (70s and 80s) are highly collectible.
  • Historical Significance: Items associated with famous surfers, surf competitions, or historical events can hold significant value.

Thinking about selling your vintage surf gear?

  • Do your research: Check online marketplaces and auction sites to get an idea of what similar items are selling for.
  • Get an appraisal: Consider having your collection appraised by a reputable vintage clothing expert for a more accurate valuation.
  • Choose your selling platform wisely: Decide whether you want to sell through online marketplaces, auctions, or specialized vintage clothing stores. Consider factors like fees, audience reach, and payment processing when making your decision.

Remember: Vintage surf gear is more than just clothing – it’s a piece of history! Whether you collect for personal enjoyment or investment purposes, treat your vintage finds with care and appreciate the stories they tell. 🌊


man in black shorts carrying white surfboard walking on beach during daytime

So, there you have it! Vintage surf culture is more than a fleeting trend — it’s a vibrant celebration of beach life and a testament to timeless style. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a newcomer to the scene, vintage surfwear offers a unique way to express your individuality, embrace the spirit of the ocean, and connect with a fascinating piece of surfing history.

Have you tried incorporating vintage surf pieces into your wardrobe? Are you a seasoned vintage collector with some amazing finds? Share your stories and photos with us in the comments! 🏄‍♀️

👉 Shop these brands online:

For further reading:

  • “The History of Surf Culture: The Art, The Fashion, The Music” Amazon
  • “Surf Style: The History of Surf Fashion” Amazon


coconut tree on beach

What were the surf brands in the 80s?

The 80s were a vibrant era for surf fashion, marked by bold colors, neon palettes, and a surge in popularity for brands like:

  • Gotcha: Known for its neon graphics and bold designs, Gotcha embodied the vibrant energy of the 80s surf scene.
  • Body Glove: With its signature wetsuit technology and stylish surfwear, Body Glove captured the spirit of the era.
  • OP (Ocean Pacific): While OP was established in the 70s, its popularity continued to soar in the 80s with its signature bright colors and fun logos.
  • Quiksilver: Already a well-established brand, Quiksilver continued to innovate and expand its offerings in the 80s, featuring bold designs and high-quality fabrics.
  • Billabong: Billabong emerged as a force in the 80s, introducing its unique style and adventurous spirit to the surf fashion world.

Remember Stussy, with its streetwear-inspired surfwear that bridged the gap between surf and skate culture? Also, Maui and Sons, known for their Hawaiian-inspired designs, were a big hit in the 80s.

Read more about “Women what brands are similar to Quiksilver …”

Who owns the brand surf?

There isn’t a single brand called “Surf”. However, many brands have the word “Surf” in their name, and the ownership often changes! For example, remember that big sale that happened in 2023?

What was the big surf brand sale?

Seven popular surf brands were sold for $1.3 billion in 2023. Check out our source: “These 7 Surf(ish) Brands Were Just Sold For $1.3 Billion – Stab Mag

This sale is a big deal and might have a big impact on the future of the brands we love!

Read more about “Is Quiksilver a Surfing Brand? …”

What is the history of the brand surf?

As we mentioned, “Surf” isn’t one specific brand. Instead, it’s often part of a brand’s name, like “Quiksilver” or “Billabong”. This reflects the strong connection between the brands and the sport of surfing itself.

Each brand has its own unique story, but they all share a common thread: a passion for surfing and a desire to create clothing that reflects the ocean lifestyle. You might think that’s just a marketing trick, but that’s how brands like Rip Curl or Ocean and Earth gained huge popularity.

How do surf brands connect with their community?

Many surf brands, even those that have expanded into other markets like fashion or lifestyle, are known for their strong connection with the surf community. They sponsor surf competitions, athletes, and events, and they often support organizations focused on ocean conservation.

Read more about “What to Wear Surfing for a Girl … 🌊🏄‍♀️”

Are surf brands fast fashion?

Like many clothing brands, some surf brands have been criticized for their role in fast fashion. Fast fashion is a term used to described the rapid production of trendy clothing at low costs, often sacrificing quality and sustainability.

How do surf brands address sustainability?

Many surf brands are making strides towards more sustainable practices. They’re using recycled materials, implementing ethical manufacturing processes, and supporting initiatives focused on ocean conservation.

It’s great to see the industry changing! Keep learning about these brands and their efforts!

Read more about “Is Billabong a Good Brand? …”

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