Scott Cuttre chats with Fleur Boys about Billabong’s trend setting collection
Much like every other modern day tech zombie addicted to checking their email every other minute, I receive an uncountable amount of undesirable emails on a daily basis. This is then followed by a split decision of whether to open or just automatically delete. This past winter I received an email from one of the many top surf industry companies I choose to follow and support, Billabong.
What made this email stand out from countless other surf company advertisements was the title, “Lets Just Go Somewhere”. Within seconds of reading this subject line, the words began to resonate. Conjuring up feelings and images that had laid dormant inside of me, yet always on the cusp of what I was truly longing for. Four simple words were enough to send my life to a screeching halt. It became obvious my original bias was gone and this email would garner my full attention.
This series of Billabong’s female fashion surf promotional videos managed to do something no other fashion, world tour, or surf related email ever has done. The “Lets Just Go Somewhere” collection promotional video changed my mood, opening my mind more so than any other email has been able to do since. Maybe it was because I was about to begin my undesirable routine of getting ready for work. Maybe it was because I have felt lost and an image within these videos struck a cord. Maybe it was because I need a surf trip more than anyone in the history of the sport. Maybe it was the gorgeous models featured in the video wearing clothing that screamed rebel surf road trip. Maybe it was all of the above. Or maybe it was just a unique vibe depicted within these video shorts, Billabong was able to capture with perfection. A freewheeling throwback style meshing with fashion forward simplicity that couldn’t be matched any better than it’s given title. Whatever the underlined factor of being overtaken by Billabong Australia’s “Lets Just Go Somewhere” promotion and collection. I knew I not only wanted, but needed to go where those girls were going, and in the style they are going in.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the series of short videos showing off this collection I would suggest heading over to Billabong Australia. What I will guarantee after viewing these shorts several adjectives will come to mind. The first thought that crept into my head was the word freedom. Freedom came to me for several reasons: Freedom from rules, Freedom from uniformity, Freedom from routine, and Freedom from reason.
While you are getting caught up in the beautiful scenic shots of country sides and empty beaches and lineups, lies a collection of clothing that couldn’t be more in tune with the spirt of surfing. Especially those surfers not just in need of a weekend session. True seekers, that want nothing more that to get lost within the beauty and comfort of their journey and their lifestyle.
Billabong’s “Let’s Just Go Somewhere” collection depicts what every road trip brings with it, the element of surprise. Anyone on a surf/road trip relishes in this feeling of surprise. One must also be prepared to adapt to the conditions provide. No matter how beautiful nature is, it can be harsh. This collection that Billabong put together, seems to have us searchers covered when it comes to being comfortably stylish, without forgetting that everyday or night will be sun filled and warm. Being completely enamored with every aspect shown in these video shorts, I had to know how and where this inspiration evolved. Head Designer at Billabong Australia, Fluer Boys allowed me the chance to have these questions answered.
Q: How did the name and drifter type feeling the “Let’s Just Go Somewhere” collection presents come about?
F: The tag line ‘Lets Just Go Somewhere’ is a campaign tagline rather than collection name. As surf culture and at times perceived ‘summer’ brand the idea that our girl is on an endless quest for adventure and or an endless summer as it may be. We believe our customer is a participant in life and its culture and revels in the opportunity to get out there.
Q: Fashion, not just female surf wear at this present moment seems to be moving in a state of an “anything goes” type mentality. Meaning, there doesn’t appear to be any lines design wise that can’t be crossed. This collection seems to be the most definitive example of that mentality. Was the main goal of Let’s Just Go Somewhere collection to be less inhibited?
F: I agree that its an interesting time in fashion and surf culture at present. Surf brands used to be pigeonholed into being just that but these days with surf shops in malls as well by the beach,online shopping not to mention savvy customers have allowed us to breach those boundaries and simply create a want for our product. Of course we sell the beach lifestyle and the clothes that go with it, but we also hope to dress that girl on and off the beach. As a brand we try to stay true to our relaxed lifestyle but are excited to reach further into their wardrobe.
Q: While all the pieces in the collection seem like they could be pulled from one outfit to the next, there is a common thread that makes it possible, having a washed, worn, lived in feel. The non-uniformity of each piece is what makes the line so interesting. Were you looking for clothing easily transferable?
F: We work hard to ensure that the collections not only can be worn together easily but transcend from one month to the next. Our customer tends to have a relaxed attitude and lifestyle we design clothes not only to reflect that but to wear while living it. Theres also something to be said about creating that ‘favorite item’ to connect with the customer and get her back into store.
Q: Would you agree this “worn in” feel is intertwined with an almost Nordic or Fair Isle style as seen in the Suki Knit, or the Paloma Cardi?
F: I think the worn in looks can be seen more literally on perhaps our Drifter pants or some of our washed back fleece, but I agree that the Knitwear that you mention, while it’s not technically worn or washed back, is relaxed in fit, does focus on soft easy to wear yarns in slouchy styles overall is a bit ‘undone’.
Q: What I also found to be one of the most appealing aspects of this collection is that it seems to be the type of clothing that would be flattering to a wide range of female body types. Surf brands in particular are notorious for being know to make clothing cut for the thin waif body types. There seems to be something for everyone here. If you’re not comfortable in a pair of Night Hawks you can supplement them with a pair of Drifters and still be pushing the fashion bar. How important is it to you when creating a collection to try and accommodate mass appeal?
F: It’s part design and part trend, we tend to have to parts to every collection that meld together. The first is our ‘beach boho’ fashion is often loose and flowing and perfect to throw on over your bikini, the second is more of a ‘relaxed sporty’ vibe which is your elastic waisted pull on shorts and pants both sectors have a common thread and that is wearability. I mentioned earlier we know who we are, we are for the beach, by the beach and around the beach its part of our culture and there are just some trends and styling that don’t sit with the brand and people don’t look to us to provide.
Q: The diversity within this line I think is what makes it stand out against the rest. The line seems to be filled with countless transitional pieces with colors that can be carried over and used for multiple seasons. How important do you think it is to own a few transitional pieces within one’s collection?
F: Absolutely imperative, style isn’t about the latest trends its about knowing what suits you and creating your own look. To do this you need a stack of favourites or go to’s, we are happy to provide a good mix of both new looks and new twists on your old favourites.
Q: Coming from a male point of view, a woman can be just as or even more attractive in a pair of sweat pants combined with a tee or hoodie as they can be done up from head to toe. I think you can tell a lot about a woman’s style sense when they are being less obvious. Whether they are lounging around or trying to be comfortable on a long road trip. Your line seems to have made it that much easier for women trying to accomplish comfort and style. Was one of the goals of this collection to provide women with comfortable options while remaining stylish?
F: Of course, again its the attitude and lifestyle of our customer that dictates this, she wants natural or easy wearing fabrics, comfortable fits even when she is trying out a new look, they say that women dress for other women but hopefully our is comfortable while doing it.
Q: As one of the top surf companies, when purchasing anything Billabong, the knowledgeable consumer expects quality and style. Something accompanying quality and style is price. I feel this line has a number of investment type pieces. How much thought goes into the consumer’s pocketbook when designing while still trying to be on the cutting edge?
F: We have a huge focus on price point from the very inception of the design, knowing the expectation that comes from a brand like Billabong we also focus on quality. Every season we strike to ensure we offering a range of price points so that you can buy an affordable knit for instance or spend a bit more if you want to.
Q: In the past you have been involved with Insight, one of the most original cutting edge risk taking surf clothing companies around. With Billabong being a much more mainstream company, how much of that outside the box thinking were you able to apply when you began designing for Billabong? Judging by this collection there seems to be a slight change in the traditional Billabong design mentality.
F: I have learnt a lot and hopefully taught a little. We are a big team so I have been lucky enough to have had their trust and the freedom to try some new things but also the experience of those around me to not loose sight of who Billabong is. We are producing great collections and staking our claim in the industry and have had some great wins.. Literally. We just won Women’s Brand of the year, Swimwear Brand of The year and Campaign of the Year, its amazing to be a part of that.
Q: What I feel is the real genius of the entire collection is the number of eras in women’s fashion the line covers. When I first viewed the “Let’s Just Go Somewhere” promo video the first thing that jumped out at me was there seemed to be a real 90’s feel, with many variations of The Drifters pants and fleece Crew tops, combined with the short cut styling of the All of Me Denim and the With You Vest. At the same time what jumped out were free flowing dresses and cardigans that gave a real 60’s and 70’s vibe as seen in the Gypsy Rebel Dress and the Madrid and Paloma Cardi. Granted old fashion styles never die they just hibernate, how were you able to intermix all of these pieces that seemed to be born out of past generations and revamp them with a modern feel so the customer doesn’t feel like they are dressed in retro styles?
F: You are right, we perennially reflect on great fashion moments of from the seventies to the nineties but it really comes down to the twist that makes it more modern in fabric, adpaption of fit, newness print and current colours. There is a mood or echo of the inspiration but the styling and how you wear it make it new. You might have a flare jean made new by being cropped or in a stretch fabric for instance or a pair your dress with sneakers and so on.
Q: Finally, what does Billabong have in store for the future of female fashion?
F: Bikini’s of course! But seriously we are so excited by upcoming collections that have influences from everywhere from Mexico to Morroco, and as you mentioned earlier absolutely anything and everything goes