Is this the newest trend in surfing fashion?
The Surf Set allows you to customize surfboards and swimwear to match.
Fashion and surfing might not have much in common on the surface, but there's one commonality they do share: self-expression. Whether it be a top designer's newest collection inspired by surf culture or the dominance of the sport by brands like Billabong and Hurley, the two are inextricably linked.
So when Gal Larar, a surfer and custom surfboard maker, and his friend Chana Weinberg, a designer, were looking for side projects, they gravitated toward one another. Thus The Surf Set, a brand of custom-made surfboards and matching swimwear, was born.
The two Israelis originally met in Australia several years ago. Larar was there taking part in surfing competitions, and Weinberg was traveling. After that, Larar had returned to Israel and started his own custom surfboard company in the surfing-mad city of Netanya. Weinberg continued to spend time between Australia and Israel while working on Chanabana, her swimwear brand.
"We were always in touch. And when I returned to Israel from Australia a year ago I thought I'd see what was up with him," Weinberg told From The Grapevine about the seeds of their partnership.
Weinberg presented Larar with some ideas inspired by her visit to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
"I saw her designs and was like, 'This is cool, let's do it,'" Larar said.
The concept of The Surf Set really took hold after one of Larar's clients requested the Milky Way galaxy be sketched across their surfboard. Larar asked Weinberg to do it for him, and an idea was hatched.
"I thought if this person is going to the trouble to customize their board, why wouldn't they also want to cover themselves in something that offers the same form of self-expression?" Weinberg told us.
The client agreed, and soon more clients followed.
The two had no reservations about teaming up despite their penchant for going it alone professionally.
"The contemporary world, it's not about being amazing at one thing, it's about combining different elements from different worlds and seeing what can take off together," Weinberg said.
The process of collaboration is really quite simple. Weinberg and Larar consult with the client, then work together to solidify design. It takes them roughly three weeks to complete a project.
Clients are drawn from across the globe, and Israelis have been especially enthusiastic.
"In Israel people are really serious about surfing. There are surf shops inland even, in Jerusalem for instance," Larar said.
Israel, in fact, has had as much an influence on their brand as Australia has. "In Israel, especially Tel Aviv, there's this culture of innovation and of looking towards the future, and I think we fit in with that, and we thrive off that energy," Weinberg said.
In a little more than a year working together, Larar and Weinberg have seen steady business. That's no surprise to either of them considering all the surfers out there who use fashion to define who they are.
"There's so much that is uniform and mass-produced, and I think today, to have something that's made just for you, that's yours, is really something special," said Weinberg.
For more info, email Chana Weinberg at [email protected].
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: