A New Wave For Misfit.
When we heard that the board brand for those who exist a little left of center, Misfit, had done a re-brand, that here at SurfStitch we would be receiving their updated board models as well as a shiny new logo, we wanted to find out what inspired the guys to rethink and renew after 8 years building a successful brand.
We enlisted the help of our Surf Writer Jack Jeffres, who insists he only rides Misfit boards, to come up with some questions for the man behind the brand, Chris Chong, to help us understand exactly who and what inspires the brand and their relaunch.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Misfit? Where are you from? Who are the brains behind the operation?
Misfit was founded on the beaches in 2002 by Dave Howell, and his little factory was based out of Brooky until we teamed up back in 2009 when we moved to our current location at Narrabeen. Dave and I had been buddies for years and we’d always spoken of doing something together with the boards one day, and well that day came 3 years ago. I’d worked in surfing since my teens and at that time I was managing the sales dept at Insight, the time felt right to move on so we took on the lease here, co-launched our retail arm the sugarmill with another old buddy and colleague of mine at Insight Stuart Bates and the rest is history. Dave obviously oversees all our production, shaping, model development and I look after our sales, creative, marketing and general operations.
What inspired the new branding? Where did you get inspiration from, for this reinvention?
Any good business has to evolve and constantly adapt to survive and profit, for us the old logo had reflected the first era of misfit but we’d out grown it and after I and others had come into the business with Dave we needed an icon that reflected who we were now and into the future. We went with a logo that is simplified and minimalistic that allowed us to showcase our personality through our product, sprays, marketing and advocates as opposed to our brand icon itself. We felt the new logo was strong, bold, relevant and it would age well.
I mainly believe we’re different because we are going against the grain of traditional surfboard manufacturing. From Dave’s, mine and our other colleagues skill sets and experiences we approached the brand as that, “a brand”, as opposed to one guy that shapes boards. We wanted to come to market with the same energy and professionalism in sales, service, marketing, branding and design as apparel brands have but also a completely new company culture and aesthetic to traditional manufacturers. We believe that we not only approach everything we do strategically and professionally, but also, and maybe more importantly creatively and free from what people would expect or what people have done in the past.
And, there is a charitable part of your organisation, isn’t there? Misfit Aid?
Absolutely, we refer to it as our companies “heartbeat”. It had been a dream of ours for years to create a company with an outward focus that partnered with the surf industry, and we didn’t really know how that would work or look until we partnered with an amazing guy, Jeff Ryan who had come from a long background in aid and development, as well as construction and business. So, Jeff now spearheads Misfit Aid and all the work we are doing here and around the globe through disaster relief, housing, to aquaponics, micro finance and business mentoring to community development initiatives.
How did you get into shaping? Was your first board a success?
Dave started back over 10 years ago by just jumping in the bay with legend WA shaper Col Adhams and learning the fundamentals, before not too long Davy picked up the tools and took to boards himself and thankfully it came fairly naturally. Together they then hand shaped thousands of boards for a bunch of Australian and international labels including HIC and Lost before Davy started Misfit back in 2002. And no I wouldn’t say the first board was a massive success, you got to shape a few before they come real good, like anything you have to earn your stripes, but again thankfully Davy was pretty natural and Col was a damn good person to learn off.
The waves over on the Northern Beaches aren’t always incredible. Do you shape boards mainly for the city waves you guys slay, or all types of waves?
Nah, we try to shape boards for all wave types and surfers, it’s one of the reasons we have so many models. It’s hard to find a single board that will work in all conditions, we have a new model the truffle shuffle that comes close, but we try to encourage or help surfers to articulate where they are planning to surf a board and how, and then find the model that best suits them and cater accordingly.
Who are the surfers that you draw inspiration from?
We’re obviously inspired by the guys that we put our name to; Otis Carey, Steds, George Hendo, Jack Irvin but we love and are always inspired by enigmatic characters that not only shred but had that counter culture and creative spirit; like Ozzie, Archy, Dora, the Fletchers, Occy, Gerlach, Potts, Purcho, Curren to Greenough and even Slats from a board design and innovation perspective but the new era of surfers are really blowing our minds at the moment in terms of manoeuvres and approach to waves; Chippa, John John, Kolohe, Dane, Ando. American Magic Mule.
Any shapers that you think are doing great things?
There is a lot of shapers that we admire and that we think are doing great things; a bunch of them are right here on the beaches from chilli to Hayden shapes to Vampirate, then to the pioneers and benchmark brands like Channel Islands, Mayham, Takoro, Eric Arakawa and Brewer. There is also some longboard guys that we like their aesthetic; Chris Christenson, Gato Heroi, Jeff McCallum and Tudor’s brand Koobox to local guys like Vouch, Thomas Bexon and Mctavish.
Tell us about your boards? Would it be alright if you gave us a rundown of some of your models?
Our whole design focus is based around progressive surfing, meaning we like to develop shapes for the constantly evolving face of surfing. We have specialist air models – the Thruster Space Dolphin, Otis’s Dingo Bandito, to hybrid shapes like the flair and fang that allow surfers to be in more critical and power generating parts of the wave, to the weird and wonderful like the Sk8ey and Sinister Kid that may look a bit odd compared to traditional shortboard outlines but are just so radical to surf. On top of this is also our love for colour, artwork and sprays, and well there aint no real rules there, except that we like most boards to leave here with some colour, it makes them individual and unique.Hendo Thruster Space Dolphin.
What is your favourite model(s)? If you were to race up the coast chasing a swell, which boards would you take?
I’d have a Thruster Space Dolphin to try nail some airs (more likely to nail myself), a round tail Magic Mule for some turns and flow, a Sinister Kid for the smaller days and a truffle shuffle for everything else.
What is your dream session? No need to name places, but give us a rundown of the waves you would be riding?
Oooh, it would have to be either a hollow A-frame beachie in France or even the northcoast of Aus, or a rifling right hand point break in Mex somewhere.
Who are the surfers that represent your brand?
Otis Carey, Luke Stedman, Chris Salisbury, George Henderson, Jack Irvin, Josh Sleep, Tyler Atkins, Cloudy Rhodes, Gareth Budge, Mitch Vanderveer, Cam Stynes, Dallas Peterson, Harry Musgrove, Robbie France and a few more on top of that.
Check out the Misfit website for updates on their brand here.