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Archives

The People's Republic of Carving

A lot of new voices from across the world are coming to play big parts in shaping modern surf culture and the fashion that goes with it. From the old breaks in Australia where, as we saw in the last blog, Girl Surf Network is telling the world that skill matters more than looks or money in surfing. To new frontiers in China, where the national culture is bringing a whole new aesthetic into surfing.

It seems more than a little unusual that surfing has only just caught on in China, the country with one of the longest coastlines in the world. However many of China's people have only recently begun to enjoy the luxury of free time and wealth thanks to their economic boom. Like everyone else It hasn't taken them long to look for things to do in their free time and bits and bobs to spend their money on and, like the Americans, Australians and Europeans before them it didn't take long to turn to the wonders of the swell.

Darcy Liu

Most of the praise for launching the emerging surf scene in China ought to go to an American called Brendan Sheridan who is currently engaged in his own mission to bring the sport to China. Thanks to him surfers around the world can reach the Chinese breaks while budding wave riders from China can sample the wonders of the world's best sport.

With his help, and some negotiation with the all-encompassing government, designers have entered the Chinese market. Surfwear mixing the bright colours and groovy design of surf style with the stylistic language and strong tones of Chinese culture was the inevitable next step in the booming economy's love affair with surfing. Perhaps it's fate, after all the two traditions share a lot in the way of stylistic inspirations: The love of delicately coloured flowers in Chinese fashion is something that any vintage surf lover will be familiar with, not to mention the bright, bold colours being paraded on Beijing's finest catwalks almost as they are Queensland's finest beaches.

The big names are getting in on the act, rapidly signing on as sponsors of the new and increasingly popular Hainan Open at the Chinese home of surfing. It shouldn't be hard to meet the new demand for boardies and rash vests locally though as the familiar "made in China" slogan is as widespread in surfing as it is in any other area of life. The wholesalers will be more than happy to sell their products in China for a fatter slice of the profits, who knows what they might produce.

Surely the presence of the world's most populous nation will mean a whole new era for surfwear, with bold reds and stylised lettering galore. We'll just have to wait and see.

Writer: Jamie Smith

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