I’ve been an open Outerknown fan since its inception.
Purely vocally that is, as I’ve never bought anything. I’ve seen the brand in the flesh only once—a green pair of trunks worn by my old boss. They were very nice. Original outcries that the clothes were too dear were ridiculous and ignorant. They’re made sustainably by happy employees—prices have to be in the higher reaches just to cover costs, let alone making a little on the top to keep the wheels turning. KS is many things, a ruthless capitalist is not one of them. The brand’s been a little quiet of late, and the rumour mill’s been circling that it’s not going too well, the end is nigh etc. We can confirm that this is folly, and at the same time present you with their latest offering, Project Nomadic.
Project Nomadic’s the latest OK range, and the emphasis is on affordable, sustainable basics fit for travel, whatever that means. The jackets and shirts are well cut and tasteful, right for the everyday. And the non-blistered handprints of the people who made the clothes (below) is a nice touch, although not necessarily something I’d sport. It’s an organic, windswept J.Crew, and certainly a step up from what the rest of the “surf” world is wearing.
Despite all praise heaped upon the brand, I do however have one gripe with Outerknown. The brand is backed by the Kering group (who also houses Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Puma, and Volcom) and there were rules drawn up in the boardroom pre-the group agreeing to back KS’s brand. The most remarkable of which relates to surfing’s most valuable export: the boardshort. The one area of life that the 11x world champ, aka the most marketable surfer in history, can’t rep his brand is…in the surf? Nup, those knee-length stripey things you see on the webcast are, Volcom. A rule put in place by Kering, presumably, to give one of their stranger purchases a little sales bump. Sure money makes the world go round, and if the people funding your vision say jump, you generally oblige. However, by not backing his vision in the one area that’s given him the fame and fortune to be able to bring his ethical vision to the rag trade, isn’t Kelly sacrificing the freedom that Outerknown was supposed to give him in the first place? Food for thought.