tofino surfing haute couture

Tofino Surfing Haute Couture

by Kimberly Johnston, Tofino


Some may say that surf fashion has forgotten Tofino and that the surfers here do not concern themselves with image. Tofino is a surf culture blank slate and it is the perfect breeding ground for new fashion ideas. If a trend is going to be successful in this town it has to be original, quirky, and comfortable. It is with these factors in mind, that I began to observe the way new Tofino surfers dress; searching for a trend setter among them. There's the pajamas-clad morning crew, sipping coffee before the chilly paddle-out; the pre-prepared wetsuit-bottomed group with large over-coats on top; and the die-hard, eternal-summer crazies, still donning their t-shirts and board shorts.

Although these outfits are interesting, none are true fashion inspirations. Once fall hit, however, I began to witness the rise of an authentic trend. To the untrained eye, this outfit may appear a fashion mishap-an unintentional dressing error or a groggy mistake made early morning, but I assure you, this trend is intentional. I am speaking of fleece pants (can be supplemented for any long underwear) with board shorts over top. Shoes may vary between sandals or flip flops, but flip flops seem to be the "cooler" option.

Where does this bold fashion statement come from? Trend-setter Sam Maltby agreed to talk to me about his keen fashion sense.

q: Where did you come up with this unique style?

a: Well, it's not entirely mine. I actually stole it from an old Whistler local who never changed his clothes; except he wore a pair of late 80's tennis shorts.

q: So you decided to adopt his style?

a: Yes, I found it exceedingly comfortable, practical and very stylish.

q: Have you seen anyone else sporting this style?

a: Surprisingly no. It hasn't quite caught on. I find that the boardies keep me in the spirit of the Summer while the leggings keep me cozy in the Fall.

q: Do you think this trend will spread?

a: Well Tofino has to really make it its own. The outfit may require some accessorizing: like a wooly surf toque, knit socks, or maybe a shell necklace.

q: Can Tofino become a hot-spot for surfing haute-couture?

a: Oh, Tofino's fully capable of "going down the runway," so to speak. It's a very creative place. I think it will just take a little more daring and personal expression... "breaking out of the line-up" as it were.

q: Are there any other fashion trends that you would like to bring to Tofino?

a: Well I was thinking about wearing a t-shirt over top of a long-sleeve shirt, but I am not sure if the town is ready for it yet. Maybe next season.

Locals may be concerned that these new fashion trends may bring hoards of new school grommets to their sacred waters and simple lives.

But I say, a little "je ne sais quoi" never hurt anyone. Vivre la difference!

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tofino time december 2006

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