On the occasion of World Surfing Day, a look back at the impact of this glide sport in the world of luxury.


Salty hair, the smell of sunscreen generously applied to the face, the sensation of gliding on the water… so many elements contribute to the aura of this discipline called surfing. Practiced for centuries by Hawaiians, this sport quickly captivated the rest of the world, to the point of becoming an Olympic discipline. Surfing made its first appearance as an additional sport at the Tokyo 2021 Games. This glide sport will also be on the program of Paris 2024, with the competition taking place on the Teahupo’o spot, in Tahiti.


Following the enthusiasm generated by surfing, it didn’t take long for brands and the fashion world to realize the opportunity it represented. Luxury is constantly on the lookout for new concepts to stay at the forefront of trends. In this endless quest for “cool,” the Maisons have a habit of drawing their inspiration from underground cultures, and surfing trends are no exception to this strategy. In 2010, Chanel positioned itself as a pioneer brand by releasing its first surfboard. In 2014, the Maison founded by Coco Chanel then enlisted the talents of Gisele Bündchen in a short film dedicated to the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume. Directed by Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Elvis…), the film entitled “The One That I Want” features the Brazilian model challenging the waves on a board emblazoned with the brand’s double C. A model that was marketed four years later for a price of 4,000 euros.



Surfers as Figureheads


While Chanel was quick to ride the wave ahead of others, other luxury players soon followed. It is clear that the glide sport inspires, both through its iconography and its nonconformist side. The surfer is cool, laid-back, and above all, trendy. An ideal formula for brands wishing to be at the forefront while giving the impression that they are making no effort.


Joining the usual actors and singers, surfers have become ambassadors of Maisons. In December 2023, the pre-fall 2024 collection of Louis Vuitton showcased in Hong Kong, under the artistic direction of Pharrell Williams. Among the models, slipping in with a board under their arm, were the surfers Mahina Florence, Kaniela Stewart, and Tahaki Papke.


More recently, Dior has taken on the mission to create its own dream team in anticipation of Paris 2024. After gymnast Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos and the triple French wheelchair tennis champion Pauline Déroulède, the luxury brand has notably chosen surfer Kauli Vaast as its new ambassador. At the age of 21, the young man from Papeete, French Polynesia, is considered one of the rising stars of the glide sport. Alongside him, five-time world surfing champion Carissa Moore has also become one of the 18 sports ambassadors selected for the Maison as the Games approach.



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Une publication partagée par Kauli VAAST (@kaulivaast)


Inspired Brands


Like tennis and the tenniscore trend, surf aesthetics extend beyond the water. A favorite for wetsuits cherished by glide sport enthusiasts, neoprene has made more than one appearance in ready-to-wear collections. The Italian brand Prada, for instance, showcased neoprene tops designed like windbreakers as well as sneakers resembling surf booties in its spring-summer 2019 fashion show.


Neoprene and Velcro shoes by Prada


Without fully adopting the surfer’s dress codes, watchmaking brands also pay homage to the discipline. For its “High Artistry 2024” exhibition, the Swiss manufacture Patek Philippe unveiled its “Sur la plage” watch. Inspired by the Calatrava model, this wristwatch, limited to only ten pieces, features a surfer on its wooden dial on the lookout for the next wave. The clean style of this exceptional piece hides masterful craftsmanship: 75 tiny wood inlays were needed to depict 23 different shades, textures, and grains.


“Sur la plage” watch by Patek Philippe


The watchmaker Breitling, on the other hand, embraced the values of the glide sport by creating the “Breitling Surfers Squad,” featuring three ambassadors. Composed of Kelly Slater, one of the greatest surfers of all time, as well as the equally remarkable Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons, multiple champions, this impressive trio has been the face of the Superocean and Superocean Heritage dive watch collections since 2018.


Ethical and Aesthetic Commitments

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Featured photo: © Dior

Picture of Charline Point
Charline Point
Passionate about art in all its forms, Charline Point is a young journalist driven by fierce curiosity and a keen appetite for culture. After several years in press relations, Charline decided to take up a career in journalism. Her favorite subjects are travel, gastronomy, cinema and fashion.

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