Meet Your Maker: Rama McCabe Of TCSS

  • Style
posted by Kate McCart

He’s the legitimate cool guy behind Aussie surf brands, The Critical Slide Society. He’s travelled the globe and worked under the likes of Rip Curl, Globe and O’Neill (all in the name of design). He lives and works out of his Bali villa with girlfriend, dog, three puppies and four cats. Interested?

Meet TCSS‘s Creative Director, Rama McCabe.


How did TCSS come to fruition?

TCSS came to fruition from the combined powers of Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes, after working together at the iconic Australian surf brand, Mambo. TCSS started out as a blog where they’d document their favorite surf and pop culture artists. The blog was getting some good traffic for back in the day (before the likes of Instagram and what not). With all this traffic coming through, Jim and Sam saw an opportunity to start a small clothing collection that spawned into who we are today.

Where’s are you guys based now?
Oh gosh… We are all over the place hahaha! We have a Bali, Bondi and Booker Bay office – yep, we only work in places starting with the letter “B”. I won the paper, scissors, rock off and chose Bali as my base to look after all things design. Sam is in the wonderful Bondi Beach which is the marketing hub for the business and Jimbo is on the Central Coast in Booker Bay where operations and logistics are looked after. Even with the geographical divide we all stay in touch on a daily basis though the wonderful world of Skype.

Describe your workspace…
I have a pretty nice little set up in the spare bedroom of our Villa in Canggu. I have a rack with all the latest protos we are working on, a few surfboards, my laptop hooked up to a cinema display, piles on piles of fabrics, a couple of Polaroid snaps of my girlfriend, Jesse on the wall an too many measuring tapes -I seam to collect the things everywhere I go! Oh, and I totally forgot… there are usually three puppies, four cats and another dog wrestling around my feet all day.

Walk us through a typical day at TCSS
Walk into my office and turn on some music which has been either the new Flight Facilities album or Bob Marley for the past few weeks. I then switch the emails on and watch in dread as they start filling up my inbox. After that, I usually jump on a Skype call with Jim, Sam, Mitch or Kirsty to catch up/sort out a variety of issues – mostly being production. After that, depending on what part of the range development process I’m in, ill get into some design work for a few hours then break for a bit to eat. After lunch, i’ll race up the road to our factory and have a look over production and any sampling that is happening. Then, I’m back in the office where there will usually be a bunch of emails waiting for me, or a few missed Skype calls. I’ll attend to those and then get back into designing the range. Finally, before calling it a day there will be a few more emails to peruse over and then i’m off.

Tell us a strange/quirky thing that takes place behind the scenes at TCSS HQ?
Jim’s poker name is Chips Riviera.

Describe the TCSS crew in 3 words…
Art, surf & fun.

If you could have any icon wear TCSS, who would it be?
Bob Dylan for sure! The guy is the best story teller ever and is a style icon in my eyes.

TCSS HQ in Bali 

Walk us through the design process for TCSS’s summer 14 collection?
We started off with a little bit of shopping inspiration in Tokyo and some trunk testing in Bali. After that, we put together all of our ideas to create a look and feel that is a clear reflection of where we see it siting along side the TCSS brand. After that, it’s into designing the garments and briefing out graphics to the many artists we work with. Once all the art is back in, we run a fine toothcomb through it to make sure it all sits in with our original direction. Once the art has been applied to the garments, it’s time to get it off to the factories and sampled up.

What will we see you wearing?
My go-to is a plain white tee up top, blue or black trousers with a brown leather belt on the bottom, and Converse high tops or Doc’s for the hoofs.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what we can expect to come out of TCSS next season?
We have gone a little tougher and less fruity then where we have been. This is a reflection of the brand maturing and catering for an ever changing market.

Give us the brief history of Rama McCabe?
I grew up in Byron Bay. After school, I went traveling around the world with my good pal, Tim Cochran (Founder of Banks Brand). When I got back I moved down to Melbourne to study. Shortly after studying, I grabbed a position with the Rip Curl design team. A year later, I jumped ship to Globe where I stayed for four and a half years till a more senior roll came up with O’Neill. I stayed at O’Neill for three and a half years then moved onto TCSS.

Was the fashion industry always where you thought you’d be? How did you get your foot in the front door?
I grew up in a bit of a hippy commune where clothing of any sort was quite sparing to say the least. With this lack of fashion, the idea of clothing became pretty intriguing to me. I can remember when I was about five years old I begged and begged my parents for a suit and finally they got me one. I was the happiest kid in the world even though I stood out like a saw thumb. 15 or so years ago my pal, Tim Cochran (again) was working at Rip Curl where he put in a good word for me. Shortly after I was off to Torquay to start my career.

Describe your morning routine…
I get up around 5:30 each day and head over to the Kitchen for my morning hot water with lemon and greet the soirée of animals we have running around the Villa. After that, I grab a board, jump on the bike and head down to the beach for a surf. Once I’m home I take a quick dip in the pool, followed by a fresh coconut and fruit salad and I’m ready for the day!

TCSS HQ in Bondi

What do you get up to outside of TCSS? Any hobbies?
I’m pretty salty and  living in Bali I like to spend as much time as I can in the ocean surfing or swimming. It’s amazing how the ocean can wash away any troubles you may have going on. Apart from that, I collect vintage toy robots, which I have in storage back in Australia. Shanghai of all places has so many of the things! I always try and pick up a couple each time I’m there.

What’s playing in your headphones right now?
Bob Marley & The Wailers. I watched this amazing doco about Mr. Marley on my last flight and have been a little obsessed ever the past few weeks.

The last place you travelled?
Tokyo a few weeks back to meet up with our distributor and to do a bit of shopping.

Next stop?
I’m jumping on a flight back to Sydney this Friday!

What’s the next big thing to come out of TCSS?
Well, we have been working on Neoprene Trunks the past few months. I’m pretty excited to get that working and into the market!