We chat with Surf Perimeters founder, Jim Storey, to find out more about the new, contemporary surf brand.
To kick off, give us a brief overview of the company and how it all began
Working in London for the last 20 years or so, I’ve really struggled to connect to mainstream surf lifestyle brands – the designs and styling can be (for me) a bit too gnarly to wear in my everyday life and the brand imagery and lifestyle shots often feel intangible. Almost unreachable for someone who spends most of his time in big cities, long distances from the nearest break. So I’ve always found it difficult buying into the ethos and culture which they represent because it’s not my reality.
I strongly believe that surfers are not defined by location or vocation. It is the shared spirit which unites us. And I’ve longed for a brand which really understands this. A brand for the slightly more discerning surfer who navigates different environments in their daily life and wants to weave a more minimalist, contemporary saltwater brand into their wardrobe each day in order to keep the fire burning.
We all live a kind of yin / yang existence &, for some of us, getting a healthy balance between the two is really difficult. In my life and certainly throughout my career to date, I’ve found that the yin really dominates due to work and other commitments, which leaves very little time for me to enjoy the active yang side of my personality. That need to get out there and immerse myself amongst the raw power and beauty of Mother Nature, to experience new environments and find empty line-ups. The yearning for the great outdoors and surfing in particular always burns deep down, but the realities of stoking it can start to fade due to time and / or location constraints.
And that is at the very heart of Surf Perimeters’ identity. We understand the boundaries between city and surf. Work and play. Passive and active. We ‘get’ the fact that it’s not easy to find a balanced equilibrium between the two if you live in a landlocked location or have little time to get to the waves. And we therefore want to bridge that gap and speak to both worlds in order to keep the fire burning no matter where you may roam. Sharp, contemporary lines for the more passive, discerning look alongside technical, innovative styles for getting out there and pushing the boundaries.
What are the core values of the brand?
Versatility. Integrity. Commitment. Responsibility. Courage. Friendship. Ambition. Presence.
Premium, versatile products which can be used across numerous environments. A commitment to responsible manufacturing and using environmentally-friendly fabrics. The courage and ambition to redefine the boundaries and keep the fire burning regardless of whether you have location and / or time constraints. And the aspiration to be present at all times. Happy and content with your whereabouts; not always pining for the unobtainable. But enjoying the moment.
For many of us, life is about finding that equilibrium between working / building a career or starting a business … and finding time to do the things you enjoy. I want SP to help fuse these two together. If surfing and its associated culture is deep within your soul, then it should be part of you whether you’re in a boardroom meeting, commuting on a train or getting amongst it in the great outdoors.
When my Dad died back in 2012, having being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, I made a pledge to myself that I will make more of an effort to create that equilibrium now rather than wait until retirement. Because we don’t know what’s around the corner. Sometimes I struggle to find the money and also work or family commitments may need to take precedence, but I will always do my best to fulfil that pledge. Because life is short. And if we are only surviving rather than living, then what’s the point?
My philosophy is to try and have the best of both worlds now rather than at retirement. Work hard and play hard. Don’t relinquish experience as you build your career. Do both and live both at the same time. Don’t just live to ‘escape’. Be present and be content wherever you may be.
Blurring the line between the city and the sea is an interesting concept and one that many UK surfers can associate with. How did you arrive at the idea?
It’s something I’ve been struggling with for the best part of 20 years & the idea to do something about it has kind of grown over that period, reaching a point a couple of years ago where I decided to stop waiting for someone else to meet my need … I’d try and do it myself!
Most action sports & adventure brands harness identities which inspire us to escape our everyday lives and immerse ourselves in environments which this beautiful planet has to offer, supported by compelling and beautiful imagery to entice the spirit and fuel the fire.
However, the reality is that these identities can sometimes – for me at least – feel hard to reach and therefore difficult connect with given the boundaries of our day-to-day lives. From a surfing perspective, many of us struggle to get the wave time that we desire due to time and / or location constraints. And it can be really difficult managing that conflict, especially if you live in a landlocked region and have responsibilities and commitments to adhere to, which can leave little residual time to jump in a car or hop on a flight.
I’ve really struggled with this over the years and had moments where I’ve felt totally torn and confused about where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do.
Staring in awe at incredible imagery of a perfect peeling wave in the middle of nowhere whilst on the train to work in London has made me both feel energized and inspired but, in equal measure, disheartened and miserable about my current way of life and choice of career because it feels so distant. What am I doing on this train? Why am I living in this place? Will I ever be the person in the photo? The resentment can eat away at you. I’ve been down this road many times and it can have a lot of negative contagion.
Most brands focus on selling the dream. But they forget that not many of us can actually live it on a permanent basis. For 90% of the time, most of us are living normal lives, navigating urban environments and holding down a busy work and/or family life.
I believe strongly that we shouldn’t be trying to escape our everyday lives and living for those moments where we can get amongst the great outdoors. We should be embracing both worlds simultaneously.
City and sea can co-exist in a positive, balanced way. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Nor should it be one fuelling a desire to escape to the other. Both are beautiful, awe-inspiring places to be enjoyed, appreciated and experienced.
And I think there is a place for a brand that celebrates this and encourages people who have surf in their soul to connect the two together and have a more fulfilled overall existence living and breathing both worlds.
There are a lot of great surf lifestyle brands in the UK at the moment. Which other brands do you turn to for inspiration?
There are some incredible brands coming out of the UK at the moment, both within the surf lifestyle market as well as more broadly across other action/adventure sports and contemporary fashion. Given our more minimalist aesthetic, we tend to look into European markets and, in particular, Scandinavia for inspiration – not only in terms of stylistic design but also their ability to fuse together function, durability and clean lines in such a unique, compelling way.
I’ve followed the evolution of lots of brands which have emanated from this part of the world over the years – brands like Sweet Protection, Norrona, Stutterheim, Norse Projects, Makia Clothing. They’ve all proven to be really inspirational to me as I’ve sought to bring a fresh perspective to the surf apparel market. On a splitboarding trip to the northern fjords of Iceland earlier this year, I also came across a number of new brands whilst speaking to people and wandering through some of the local towns – as it happens, on that trip, I inadvertently met a fellow snowboarder who loves surfing & ended up investing in the business which has enabled SP to move forward with more momentum!
Rapha is another brand which has provided plenty of inspiration – founded out of London in 2004, these guys reset the dial in the cycling world through their innovative and cutting-edge products packed with technical details whilst maintaining a clean, sharp aesthetic. More than this though, Rapha is a community of like-minds; a club of people who want to immerse themselves in the culture of road cycling and be ambitious in everything that they do.
This is exactly what I’m trying to do with Surf Perimeters. Breathe a fresh perspective on the surf lifestyle market by designing & manufacturing premium quality, durable, versatile and technically advanced products which have saltwater spirit woven into them in a minimalist, contemporary way. I want to create a community of people who strive to combine both city and sea. Work and play. They are not mutually exclusive. And I want to encourage people to live and breathe both worlds.
You have a technical range and a casual range out. Does one influence the other or are the two ranges completely separate?
The two are inherently interlinked and designed to speak to the yin/yang dynamic which lies at the very heart of our identity. We want saltwater souls to have the opportunity to showcase their passion and keep the fire burning across both passive and active environments; whether they are commuting to work on a train or trekking coastal pathways in new frontiers searching for new waves.
In this regard, there are design synergies which encompass both ranges; from our SP surfboard ‘icon’ which features across the entire range to the use and injection of similar colours.
In addition, when planning our launch range, we wanted to create a functional opposite for each product. So, we sought to have one ‘yin’ and one ‘yang’ style for each. For example – we designed the organic casual tee range to be worn in more passive environments (the ‘yin’) … and to complement this, we designed the functional opposite in our Endeavour technical tee range, to be worn in more active environments (the ‘yang’). This was also applied to our organic crew neck range, with the functional opposite being The Pulse technical fleece. And also our jacket – where we had planned to bring out a casual blazer alongside its functional opposite in the DBHS Softshell jacket.
We actually decided to pull the blazer from the launch collection – it’s a key item for us but there were some details which we weren’t completely happy with & so we are working on refining these with a view to bringing a version out in spring/summer 2018.
What can we expect to see from Surf Perimeters in the future?
I think it all depends on what happens with our recently launched AW17 collection!
I’ve worked hard over these last 2+ years to bring SP to life, and I’m absolutely stoked with the result. It’s been a journey, I’ve met some incredibly talented people who have helped me to bring my vision to life, and there have also been many moments of doubt as I’ve come across obstacles or struggled to find time to start a business whilst holding down a ‘normal’ job, spending time with my amazing family and also living the spirit of the brand by going on trips. But I’ve pursued + am excited about what’s been created and where it could go next.
However, it will all come down to cash flow. If we don’t sell enough products from this range, we will struggle to continue. Which would be disappointing! Not least because our SS18 range is looking awesome – we’ve been working on some great new products including our summer blazer, recycled polyester board shorts, long-sleeve casual shirts, spring rain jacket, lightweight striped crews – among many others. And feedback so far has been brilliant for those who’ve seen the samples.
I also have a lot of aspirations for the business and ideas regarding how to build a community of like-minds, which may include bespoke surf trips and exploration-type adventures in the future.
But one step at a time … the most important thing for the business is to sell and continue to raise awareness of who we are and what we’re striving to do. I’m super excited about the future, but also aware that the here and now is critical if we are going to have the funds to be able to move forward and realise my objectives.
To find out more about Surf Perimeters, click here.