We caught up with the Kelly Slater surfing icon in New York during the launch of the Superocean Heritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown watch, the result of a one-year collaboration between its Outerknown clothing brand and Breitling. Read our full interview below.
Men & # 39; s Journal: How did you come together to make this watch appear?
Kelly Slater: Breitling contacted us [Outerknown, the clothing brand Slater co-founded in 2015] about a year ago to talk about this idea and put together a squad group with [pro surfers] Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons, who are my long-time friends. Breitling really wanted to show what we mean for our sport, and to give us the opportunity to turn on Outerknown, allowing us to develop straps for watches.
So what is unique in the group?
It is made with Econyl, a yarn made from recycled fishing nets pulled from the ocean and then re-spinning. We have created jackets that use it so that all this can be recycled. This was part of our beginning and why we launched the brand.
You made your own surfboards and wave machines, so what made you go in for clothes?
I just knew that something smelled in clothes, so to speak. There was a moment of Epiphany. I did the fast for six days, I just drank the water and after about four or five days I had only the clearest thoughts. I thought I should find out where our clothes are made when I was in another clothing company. I have to figure out who makes the clothes, and where they are made, and what goes into it, and I need to know all this, because it has given me so much in my life, and I know nothing about it. So, I started asking questions, and I started getting checkpoints.
It sounds like conspiracy theory.
I would say that it really is. I went to a guy who worked for this company, who was an artist – I knew a guy of 20 or 30 years old and thought he would tell me. I went to his office and said, “Hey, I want to talk to you about something. I feel I can get an answer from you before anyone else. ” And he says: “I don’t think you will like the answers.” And he literally got up, walked over and closed the door to his office, and he said, “Well, do you want to talk about it? You just do not like what you hear, because they will buy everything as cheaply as possible, and do it for as little as possible, with people who are not very well paid, and they do not. have a living wage and all that. "
You would think that for a clothing brand owned by a world-famous athlete, your photo will be pasted on the entire site. But it is not.
There were thoughts to call him Slater, but I just want it to be clothes and more ideas than me. My goal was to make good clothes right and let her stand the test of time. For me, it was more about creating this brand than about promoting yourself. Look, I'm proud of what I did. This allowed me to be able to create this company and attract people who believe in what I believe in and see what it can do in the industry that allowed this to happen thanks to what I did. So, of course, I am very proud of my achievements. I didn't necessarily want to go and risk being stupid and "go buy Slater things."
So you add a fashion designer to your resume?
Well, Apex Trunk is probably my signature, because that's what I live for. I worked on all aspects of the design of this trunk, but I don’t have time to go there and work on everything. I am happy that it is connected with me, speaking the apex predator. For me, I want to be a great white shark. When I compete, I want to be that best guy. It's amazing that these are not all neon ones – when I was a kid, everything on my surfboard was all orange-green.
I read that if you participate in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, this could be your last competition?
Yes, I would not say that this will be my last event. I’ll probably still be surfing for five years after participating here and there. But I expect that next year is my last full contest year. And if I participated in the Olympics, then I would probably still have somewhat competed somewhat in early 2020, just to be fresh and attentive to how I need to compete, so I will not be nervous at that time.
What does it mean for surfing to get to the Olympics?
I can clearly see any side of it. I could be fine, not surfing the Olympics, and I can be completely behind. I see the benefits of this, and I also see that we do have a world tour that determines the best surfer in the world every year for a whole year and all the different conditions, and I think that the best surfer of the year ends up being the champion of the world. I think that the pressure that is being put on the Olympics will really make the cream rise to the top, because you need to be so confident in your game and what you are doing, and make decisive decisions about this. on that day, the one who is just natural will win this thing.
You, as you know, chased the waves around the world. How do you determine where the surf will be?
When I started, I had no idea. I woke up in the morning when I was young, removed the wax from the board and my friends and rode our bike as fast as possible to the beach. And most of the days in Florida were nothing. As a child, I did not know what caused the waves, I just knew that sometimes I wake up, and the waves are big, and the wind is good. Then, when I was a teenager, I met a guy named Sean Collins, who had a thing called Wave Track, which turned into what is probably the world's largest surf forecasting site in the world called Surfline. I have been friends with him since I was 13 or 14 years old, and he showed me excellent maps and how he received weather maps from, say, Australia, for example, in June and July. He will be able to read what storms are doing near New Zealand, and in 10 days he will know that they are going to hit the coast of California. Thus, he would have a good idea of size and spacing. And then you look at local wind patterns to see how this affects local conditions.
I began to study this material in childhood, and then, through the websites and applications that these guys have been creating for many years, it’s almost as if you can teach yourself any of these things. You look at this, and you get a good idea of how it works. But, fortunately, there are a few secrets about how to read them, because I like to go to Fiji, and some sites give a wrong prediction, and people do not understand how to read it. If you know how to read, it is really obvious.
What will you do after you finish surfing?
I would say that in a year or two I will travel more than now. In short [surf] trips, just strikes, like the pursuit of a wave. Right now I was injured a little over the last year and so I didn’t travel, I didn’t follow a lot of waves. But when I finish competing full time, I’ll just keep an eye on what makes the ocean around the world, and if I see a good wave in Namibia in July, I can leave for two days. Last week I was going to go to the northwest coast of Africa and go surfing, but I just didn’t have time.
Who is the next kelly slater?
The next guy is named Eli Hanneman from Maui, he is 15 years old and he is incredible.