In the late 1960’s Australian surfers Alan Green and John Law chased a dream – to live in Torquay, make a living and go surfing. In 1969 Alan Green produced wetsuits (Rip Curl) on a $2500 loan from his father, the next product was sheepskin boots (UGG Boots), and in 1970 he and John Law formed the company named Quiksilver. Greenie and Law ripped apart some old trunks and discarded the portions that they deemed unnecessary or undesirable. Gone was the leaden canvas, the lace up front, the long stovepipe legs, the double thick seams and buttons that hurt when you paddled. Nothing of the old was left so they started from scratch. A pattern that was anatomically based was devised to move with the surfer.
Greenie and Law’s innovative trunk was made from a durable, lightweight fabric that dried rapidly. Their boardshorts had short scalloped legs that didn’t bind or hang up. The styling was essentially clean. A wide waistband yielded support. They designed a snap that held and placed it so a bloke could paddle. There were no decorative add-ons. There was a wax pocket, a lay flat Velcro front closure and that was about it.
So Greenie and Law put them on and went surfing. Hard at it, all day every day. People notice what works. They also pay attention to individuals who devote years to chasing a dream. Soon other riders would do anything to get one of these elusive newfangled boardshorts. This was the birth of Quiksilver, the genuine, original, functional choice of the hard-core participant.
Leading the beg, borrow and steal-a-pair brigade, was the foremost competitor of the decade, Jeff Hakman. Personally trained by the Duke, he understood both the history of the activity and the scope of greatness. Tutored by the legendary surfboard shaper Richard Brewer he had an immediate grasp of functional design. Above all, as one of the key players in the radicalization of surfing itself, Hakman knew the future when he saw it. In Torquay, Oz for a contest, Jeff got one of those glimpses. Quiksilver boardshorts. With a little chicanery Jeff managed to abscond with some that he forgot to return to his mate, Australian pro Mark Warren. They were a perfect fit and everywhere Hakman toured people were mad to possess them. In 1976, Hakman left Torquay with a Bells trophy and an agreement to distribute Quiksilver in the United States.
Back home in Hawaii, Jeff enlisted the aid of his surfing friend Bob “Buzz” McKnight a surf filmmaker and student who just happened to be close to graduating from the University of Southern California with a business degree. The demand for these new boardshorts was there. The design was there. Everyone who wore them said these Quiksilver’s were the most comfortable trunks that they had ever worn. Bob, in addition to surfing everyday, was a business major. How can you fail with a combination like that, Hakman reasoned. With his usual persistence, Jeff managed to persuade Greenie and Law to grant Bob and himself the American license to the magic boardshort. No recounting of the annals of the sport fails to include the torrid tale of the eager to impress Hakman actually eating the serving doily off of the dinner table at a local Torquay restaurant much to the delight of Greenie. A great partnership had begun.
By the mid-1970’s, a small office/warehouse/distribution center was opened in Newport Beach, California. McKnight and Hakman built a business based on word of mouth, quality, unbelievable service and their extensive personal contacts at surf shops on all three coasts of the USA. © 2007 Quiicksilver
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