Interview with Josh Kerr & Chippa Wilson - VNDA
Premium underwear and lounge wear as they have called it, Josh Kerr and Chippa Wilson’s new brand VNDA has taken comfort and style to the next level. Recently we interviewed the profound surfers on their new lounge wear.
Josh Kerr: VNDA is all about comfort, that’s the main thing behind it. We travel the world; we are always on planes and from one place to the next. Comfort goes along way, when that’s kinda your lifestyle. I think that’s why this whole brand even came about was just to be comfortable while you’re on the road and enjoy part instead of being uncomfortable, it’s all about premium comfort and fashion.
Chippa Wilson: Yeah they’ve been pretty stoked; you know so far it’s kinda tricky to work it all out but…
J: It’s a fine line, you know
C: its super fine line, but its lounge wear it’s for like on air planes, on your couch and for sleeping.
J: Were creating a category, and yeah the underwear is something we can play off too. It’s good
D: If you win a comp do you thank yourself in your acceptance speech?
J: Don’t thank ourselves, no.
C: Nup, Stay away from that one.
J: Our main push is just the product itself we just want to create an amazing product and let the product speak for itself.
D: So that explains it from a fashion perspective, but what about from a personal one? Was doing your own thing something that you’re always interested in doing and this just fitted the mould? Or did this just pop up and felt right?
J: Yeah I mean, I get inspired of a lot of skateboarders and snowboarders there the best at starting their own brands all the time and there very entrepreneurship, they have between each other and I think surfers have been lacking that a lot, they haven’t really been starting companies for many, many years now since back in the gotcha days.
C: Yeah, it’s been a while.
J: So I feel like it’s a fun side project, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, start a company and getting involved with a rad dude like this as well is awesome so yeah that’s my personal opinion, what about you chip?
C: Yeah for real, I’m the same, I mean growing up I always wanted to be a part of a company and I have been through sponsorships and what not but to have your own brand, it is super cool. Like yeah, I am excited for the future.
J: It’s a different level.
C: So different.
J: To be invested in it, ownership and your own dollars, sweat, your hustling you know learning all the different sides of the other side of the industry that utilise you as a marketing tool, now were in the back trying to utilise other things as marketing tools and seeing how the whole back end of the industry works.
D: So from what we understand, the idea of the name was from something that came up within France a few years back, what was it that once you had the ball rolling that made you reach out to Chippa to get him involved?
J: Well yeah, it was an idea that I had back in France, I had been travelling all year and what I realized that I did was that I brought the same pair of pants and that I would put on at every tour stop, every time I would go to sleep so I could get in my comfort zone, so I could be comfortable and it was just that one little thing that made me happy and that keeps everything the same you know no matter where you are in the world. That’s where it came out, no one’s doing like these comfy sleepy, lounge style. Underwear was a huge thing; I mean I never had a clean pair of underwear so screw it; I might as well make my own underwear company. That sounds really good; it was just an idea at that stage and then I just came back to America from that trip and Chippa happened to be there and I brought it to him and asked him what he thought. He’s like yeah that sounds sick, I’ve always wanted to be involved in something for so long, let’s do this! So we met up with some people that we know, that have had their own start up businesses and have their own agencies and creative group agencies. Likely enough, one of my friends is a lawyer over there as well, so we kind of got this cool little group of people together and all of the founders have their own little pitch that we can give to the brand and that’s a real special thing. The brand’s only going to succeed with the people behind it, and I think we had kind of a dream team so it was pretty rad.
C: It is aye, after that first meeting we all had like two beers each and went to a bar and it was pretty incredible.
J: It was just like yeah, we can take over the world. It was a long process though; over a year of back end dealing with everything obviously we got the right people involved that had the businesses so they knew not to just rush into something but to get the whole backend of the business sorted before you go out and make some product with no vibe, no nothing and just giving products to people with nothing to back it up. It was a long process getting everything sorted.
C: Yeah but you have to do it right.
J: But yeah we learnt a lot.
D: So can we expect to see either of you rocking up events or airports in onesies any time soon?
J: Onesies aren’t exactly on the program just yet.
C: Yeah not yet.
J: We will let the onesie people keep that one, for now.
D: So we started following you guys on Instagram a few months back and you seem to have a nack for putting up gorgeous women in your clothing, seems like the ultimate side project for you two to be involved with?
J: Yeah, that was definitely one of the perks after a couple beers that it could actually happen. Yeah we have beautiful women to wear it and plug it, what sells product better than good looking women.
C: Exactly, spot on.
D: What things are you guys looking to do with the brand is it more likely to be tied in with something from fashion week or something with the surf strip?
J: I think our main goal is to swing to the fashion side.
C: 100 percent
J: Obviously there will be a role over into our industry because it’s what we do and what we love but our main goal is to keep it very boutique. The main thing is that the product is high end and so premium that really lives in that fashion and boutique kinds of world.
C: Yeah I think it suits that world 100 percent.
J: Especially with the prints were pulling off for the future, that it will set us apart.
D: The recent defect of Kelly from Quicksilver has definitely brought the concept of doing your own thing, front of mind for everybody. Do you guys see the brand developing into something that would support a team of riders or ambassadors or be associated with athletes or is it more of your own project and you just want to see the product out there?
J: We already have somewhat of a team together, we have Oliver Kurtz involved and Danny Davis the snowboarder; he’s a rad due also who doesn’t want a clean pair of underwear you know. No one’s ever going to say no to that. We obviously got some rad investors and ambassadors along with those guys.
C: We’ll have a good group of people.
J: Down the track, we’ll have similar people that are passionate like us about fashion and comfort and everything. I can see us getting a lucrative team together.
C: Yeah for sure
D: It seems to lend itself very well to that lifestyle of imagery in terms of a campaign as opposed to just straight product shots. I could really see you guys as a group travelling on a road trip, in and out of cars going to restaurants socialising and that representing the product.
J: Yeah definitely.
C: Yeah the travel vibes.
J: Yeah the travel lifestyle is all about good vibes, right? What’s better than being comfortable?
D: It sounds like a brand that works perfectly in with your free surfing lifestyle as well as your tour lifestyle; it doesn’t seem to throw any curve balls at either of you, riding motorbikes, photo shoots with models, wearing lounge wear it kind of sounds like the perfect gig?
C: Well yeah, you’re not wrong; it’s pretty nice I could be doing worse things.
J: Definitely sits with him, he is always going to an amazing wave somewhere, travelling off somewhere the same as going to another tour event and all that, keeping everything in that…
C: You just want that comfort zone.
J: Exactly it’s the comfort zone, the general comfort zone.
D: So Josh after the Red bull series, it seems that everyone knows the Kerr clan quite well. Are we going to see a kid’s line of VNDA soon? So Sierra can sticker up the skateboard.
J: It’s not on the cards at the moment, but I tell you what she is growing up so quick, before I know it she will be in the women’s stuff. Far out she is already 7, that’s crazy but yeah we don’t know where it’s going to go. Were obviously in the start up phase and were just taking it one by one just trying to get that initial brand awareness and everything out there and just getting people to understand what we are all about. Never know, see what kind of reception we get.
D: So what’s on the 2014 schedule for you two, apart from the tour and we know you’re working on a feature film at the moment. Is this going to work in with those things, or are you keep it very separate from the other projects you guys are working on this year?
C: I’m keeping it pretty separate; I mean I’m not tying it in with anything I’m doing.
J: It’s more like a side thing, we are learning so much more about everything you know. Like I said, we have both been used as marketing tools for all these brands for so long and now we’re understanding the whole world behind it.
C: We get to do it ourselves now.
J: I am just taking it every day as it comes and enjoying having this little side business whether its grabbing a bunch of stuff, products seeding good crew that I know, helping out in the marketing or packing boxes back in the warehouse or whatever. It’s pretty grass roots right now.
C: Yeah it’s cool.
D: Has it kind of given you guys a bit more respect for the sponsors that have let you live the lifestyle that you’ve lived for the last sort of 10, 15 however many years understanding all the things that go on and one day, back when it was someone starting those businesses the way that your starting yours now?
C: 100 percent
J: Yeah, to get given the lifestyle we have been given and all the money we have been given of these great sponsors that we have, you know where the money could have been going into something else but it’s gone into us as marketing tools and we have to hold up to our end of the bargain to be worth that amount of money to them, etc. So you definitely respect how much they’re putting into you and they have given you this lifestyle and send you around the world. It means a lot to me.
C: It’s amazing, yeah same to me it’s crazy; I couldn’t imagine how much they have been backing me over the last 4 years.
J: Were lucky.
C: So lucky.
J: We live a good lifestyle.
Here is a sneak peak of what will be coming to SurfStitch very soon.