A Q&A with John Moore
It’s unfair to equate any master of their field with the master of another unrelated field. Basketball and surfing have little in common, and yet it’s widely said that Kelly Slater is the Michael Jordan of the sport. For 20-odd years Kelly held close ties with industry giant Quiksilver, like how Mike has Jumpman. Though this past year Kelly decided to take a different route altogether – he split with his bluechip sponsor and struck out on his own.
Well, almost. He brought designer John Moore along with him.
Together the two run Outerknown, a laid-back but decidedly grownup apparel and outerwear line. An industry vet and surfer in his own right, Moore most recently penned designs for the retro surf-inspired label M.Nii, where in 2014 he was honored as one of the best new menswear designers in America by GQ. We recently caught up with Moore to talk sustainable design, working with one of his heroes and designing for the future.
What’s your relationship with surfing? The ocean?
I’ve spent my entire life surfing and have always felt most comfortable working on projects that are connected to the ocean. When I’m in the ocean frequently, everything else I’m doing falls into a good rhythm…
What influences you in your life and design?
That’s really hard to pin down because it’s always shifting. I’m not conscious of trends as much as I am aware of what’s happening around me. When I’m awake and aware, I can find inspiration anywhere. I’m not interested in following any particular “trend” and would much rather take a risk to create something and be wrong, than copy something that has already been done and works.
How has it been working with Kelly?
Real. Kelly’s no bullshit. He would rather have a candid conversation about what feels right versus following a blueprint. He’s an individual, a deep thinker, and he wants to understand where everything comes from. This is very different than most relationships I’ve had in in fashion.
Keep in mind I grew up with Kelly. Not as a friend, but as a fan. So I admired his clean-living approach to life and incredible style on a surfboard long before I knew him personally. So if you start there, it’s pretty surreal to think of drawing that connection from a lifetime of inspiration into a creative and business partnership.
And this idea of Kelly’s global nomadic lifestyle, traveling from one destination to the next, informs our approach to design. He’s feeding us inspiration constantly, which is one of the most valuable elements of our creative puzzle. We’re designing for real life, wherever your travels take you—city, sea, desert and mountains. Surfing is just one part of that. And we want you to be prepared for everything else that comes your way, and hopefully do it with a sense of style. [H]
Head on over to The Field to find out more about Moore's life in Venice Beach, the challenges of working in sustainable fashion, and what the next 20 years look like for Outerknown.
Images courtesy of Outerknown