Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mid 1980's Quad – The Missing Link Between Windsurfing & High Fashion?

I am not a particular follower of fashion. Or so I thought. On reflection it seems that we are all a product of the fashion industry. Take my current getup as example A: I am wearing my usual uniform of cutoff cargo shorts and a faded t-shirt – a look that my wife, who is a religious Vogue devotee claims is very on trend. Apparently there is something of a nineties revival happening in the fashion industry at the moment. Having chosen today’s outfit based solely on what was clean and close when I emerged from the shower, rather than what deemed “in” by fashion editors, I am reminded of the trickle down effect. If design houses like Burberry and Prada hadn’t decided that the mimimalism of the nineties was due for a comeback, would I be wearing something different? Are my Old Navy shorts simply an economic alternative to what was seen on the fall/winter runways. Probably. This is where I admit that my clothes (and yours) were chosen for me. The conclusion: we are all a product of current (and past) trends in the fashion industry. It might sound like something from the former Soviet Union or Orwell’s 1984, but it is the fashion designers and the editors who have first glance at their creations who decide what we wear, how and when we wear it and how much we pay for it. If you can get it on the high street, rest assured that there is a far more expensive original floating around on Bond Street or in Harrods. Unless you eschew clothing altogether; or you are a designer yourself, you can thank the Matthew Williamsons and Anna Wintours of the world for whatever “look” you are currently sporting.
1980's fashion!
Fanatic 2011 or is it 1985?

So how does this relate to windsurfing? Have you looked at a magazine lately? The 2011 sails, boards and related paraphernalia seem to have gone back to the flouro colors that we all remember from the 80’s. It looks like Klepper are making a belated comeback. It is not just about colour; even some wave boards are starting to mirror their mid-80’s relatives with wide points moving forward and asymmetric board and fin combinations starting to rock the traditional boat once more. Is it just me, or has Video Killed the Radio Star been on repeat in the Fanatic design studio for the past year? They might just be onto something at Fanatic…after all, the era of excess is when people made money, took risks and lived large…what could be more fitting for board design than a throwback to the energetic 80’s? Take a look at this picture sent to me by Chris Jackson who made boards in the UK during the 80’s (and is getting back into the industry, but more of that cycle later).

Doesn't look that different to Kauli's latest designs! Although not so sure about those clear plastic fins.

While quads didn’t catch on 25 years ago, perhaps because Kauli wasn’t around to give the trend validity, some designers were way ahead of the game, or perhaps just at a different part of the cycle. Now that production techniques, equipment and sailors themselves have improved, it is interesting to see how design concepts come in and go out like the tides. These waves of creative destruction, a phrase coined by economist Shumpter, encourage producers to seek out new products and new companies try to exploit new market niches, those companies that do not innovate are left in the wilderness as new brighter and spunkier ones start to strut their stuff. By following the trends set by riders in Hawaii, Australia, South Africa or even Cornwall (which seems to be going through its own 80's revival in the industry with a number of innovators starting to get noticed), the industry is constantly evolving. While new designs are not always  better than their predecessors, over time mistakes are ironed out and we all win. 

More to follow...

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