You Are Here: Luke Stedman, Surfer/Fashionista

posted by / Blogs / March 14, 2012

Luke Stedman
Luke Stedman, fashion-forward with Insted We Smile.


You Are Here, Nathan Myers

Interview by Nathan Myers

Luke Stedman is starting his own clothing label. He is a former WT competitor. A talented freesurfer. And a man of style. Stedman stands apart in a culture where most dudes wear uniform attire. Baggy shorts. Clever t-shirts. Flip-flops. We look like surfers. Stedman looks like a rock star.

When I sit down with Luke to discuss his new venture, I am wearing baggy shorts and a clever shirt. I am wearing flip-flops. I don’t care. I think Ugg Boots are super-comfortable. Sometimes I tuck sweat pants into them. I don’t think people are required to care about fashion. But I do think some people look stylish and other people blend into the scenery. And I think it’s a relevant and interesting conversation.

I once met a movie theater owner who told me he was in the popcorn business. Ask any surf shop owner what percentage of their profit comes from surfboards. We are a fashion industry. Born of a long history of influencing fashion and culture. Yet lately (meaning, last two decades or so)… well, let’s just ask someone with actual style:


SURFING: Is surfing a fashionable culture?
STEDMAN: [laughs] I’d say it’s highly unfashionable. There’s only a small niche of surfers who have any idea of creative fashion. Everyone else seems to like the exact same things. The people I like to hang out with are on a bit of a different level. They like to surf, but they take inspiration from other places. That’s where I’m going with my own creations.


SURFING: That’s why you’re starting Insted We Smile?
STEDMAN: I just reached a point in my life where I couldn’t really continue being 100-percent professional surfer guy. I wanted to try something else while I still had some credibility to leverage. I’ve always been super interested in the fashion side of things, so it was time to put my money where my mouth was.


SURFING: Are you done being a pro surfer?
STEDMAN: Well, I’m not going to be doing the WQS, but I’m still surfing as much as possible. But I’ve got a different angle to push now. Insted We Smile still draws inspiration from the ocean, but it’s so far from being a surf label. I’m just trying to do a fun, positive line that takes inspiration from the ocean and inspiration from the streets.



SURFING: Who in our sport has good fashion style?
STEDMAN: Ozzie Wright is the coolest cat in the world. He’s untouchable. He’s next level. I look up to him for inspiration. He’s got a unique style that can’t be imitated.


SURFING: Are people just born with good style, you think?
STEDMAN: Yep. You’re born with that. You either have it or you don’t. It can be directed and learned, but to be really creative and forward, to look good continuously and before its time…you’re born like that.


SURFING: Who else, in surfing, was born that way?
STEDMAN: Alex Knost is fantastic. He’s got a really unique, California style. And I love what Dion Agius is doing, coming up with his own sunglass line. You’ve got to have a good eye, but also be able to put it to use and bring it to life. To have the full package is rare. Those guys have it.


SURFING: Do you think these guys stand in front of the mirror a lot?
STEDMAN: No, it happens naturally. They just do it. You’d be surprised. You wouldn’t think of those guys as competitive, but they’re very driven to bring creative things to life. And if we didn’t have those guys…surfing would be very dull. And they surf really well, too. That’s the thing. Dane’s another one — he’s just cool. He’s so f–king cool, and it’s completely natural to him.


SURFING: Is there any style on tour right now? Who would take the Stedman-Style title for 2012?
STEDMAN: Dane would have won, but now I don’t even know who’s on tour. Kolohe’s cool. He’s young and hangs out with a good group of people, so he’ll probably bring some good style to the tour. He’s got a good group of people to draw inspiration from. But then again, it’s difficult to have a sense of style when you’re made to wear a certain company’s products.


SURFING: Are there fashion do’s and don’ts you could share with those of us born to mediocrity?
STEDMAN: No rules. Do whatever makes you feel good. If you look in a mirror and say, “Damn, I’m feeling pretty good right now,” then who cares what anyone else thinks. It’s how you feel. You can pull anything off if you’re feeling good.


Check out Luke’s new project at

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  • Not stylish and proud

    Bunch of arty fags who look in the mirror all day and do circle jerks after they copy the new euro fashion trend. Ill keep throwing on my shorts and flip flops and keep not acting like a chick thank you.

  • unidentified

    wow this was gay. laughed out loud when he said people I hang out with are on another level. You are next level bro!

  • uhhh really?

    “There’s only a small niche of surfers who have any idea of creative fashion. Everyone else seems to like the exact same things.”

    – So how is taking the ever played out fucking anchor that’s literally in every big clothing companies spring/summer line (and has been for at least a year) and is Captain fin co’s main icon and making it a smiley face doing something creative? It’s essentially the exact same thing as everyone else. Wow scoop neck T with an anchor smiley face! Never seen fashion like this, get this guy to Milan pronto, he’s breaking the mold!

  • Elvis

    Anchor tattoos are the new tribal tats.

  • Elvis

    oh yeah, and Dane didn’t start that trend. Come to NYC to see every yahoo with one.

  • m&m

    i give it 2 years or 100k, whichever comes sooner. but hey, at least he’d doing something in the afterlife, not just becoming a sales rep or team guy. teenage surfers aren’t interested in him the same way they’re into dane, ozzie, or.. gasp!.. dion.

  • J JACK

    Too funny ……..the people that care what the look like really take themselves seriously huh …….poor bastards .

  • seenster

    all the same,. . .. . I am a surfer but don’t want to be ….I dont want to be a pro any more.. . . iam so hip and your not . . another pop out mold . . .steds can’t hack it as a pro and can’t hack it in fashion surfing is gay now because of this shit !!!! lay off the packy steds on get a real job

  • mikepr

    This article just shows how airhead surfers keep tarnishing surfing’s image….

    Luke you’re soo cool…… please… you’re a loser, so superficial, get a real job punk

  • 1FromTheCheapSeats

    kindly fill in the blank– “luke steadman and chas smith _________ “.

  • Gramps

    ” luke steadman and chas smith should have each others babies”.
    Really, ‘Ing !?!?!

  • Sven

    Big surprise seeing all the haters here. They love to hate Stedman. Must be doing something right…he’s got their attention. Carry on.

  • nicholas

    good on luke for having a go and not just resigning himself to a “corporate” surf industry job… from what i can see, no one that surfs really buys into the big surf fashion labels these days anyway, bar a pair of boardies, leggie or a wettie. look at what’s happened to billabong and there is a seismic shift happening in the “surf market” as the big guys are trying to change their stripes and now be “fashion forward” too… i reckon he will do well and it would be cool if a few more people out there broke away and did their own thing…

  • Jake

    uhh really? is 100% correct. This guy is a straight dork.
    Lets all try to be motorcycle riding sailor wannabe pirate lookalikes.

    This trend is horrible.

    Captain Fin, Brixton, Summer Teeth, Raen Optics, RVCA, etc….


  • happy henry

    that’s what happens when you hang around wanna be fashion monkeys in Canggu & Bondi for too long. You end up thinking your a vagabond hipster guru and get shitty rainbow and bicycle tattoo’s all over you. I actually like the guy, but he aint no trend setter….he’s actually another guy going for the DIY trend that’s in at the moment. (“Everyone else seems to like the exact same things.”) At least he’s having a crack, even though he may be slightly delusional. ha

  • Blizz

    is that a fedora lolz

  • longtom

    Million cookie-cutter hipsters rocking this exact look.

    It’s as fresh as a fart in nanna’s undies.


  • Ben Davidson

    I like it.

  • Sans testicles

    Glad to see you guys aren’t running out of things to write about…

  • Rebel Sell

    Read the Rebel Sell… sums this entire argument up. There is no such thing as counter culture, because as soon as it’s recognized as outside the box, the box slowly engulfs it and it just becomes mainstream s***. straight up do what’s comfy, and ya we need guys like this to do new things so they can become old ones soon.

  • Wyatt

    What’s most bizarre is that we have to apologize for doing things on purpose. As if the only possible way to be trendsetting is to have somehow been “born” that way. Some of the greatest musicians – and fashion icons – of all time preened in a mirror. Some of the most fluid surfers in history rehearsed every arc of their spine or flick of their wrist. Rules are broken and trends set 100% on purpose. The sooner you dispense with this silly notion of “all organic/all the time” the sooner you’ll be liberated.

    All that said, this dude is like, 5 years too late to the lame party. If Alex Knost is your benchmark of style, you’re hosed.

  • sam

    Being a surfer, a budding graphic designer and photographer, and trying to keep an open mind about this article, I will say this: I winced when I saw the T shirt designs. I double winced when I reread that “Stedman stands apart in a culture where most dudes wear uniform attire. Baggy shorts. Clever t-shirts.” CLEVER TEES. It would be an over statement to call some of his designs “clever” because they are borrowed and boring. This is not original, as the implied photo caption stated. Originality seldom happens and cannot be produced or REcreated. When you try, you get this. You get fashion, which is merely a trend. You get banality. True originality isn’t force fed down our throats because it stands alone on it’s merits. You don’t have to question originality because it is an obvious thing, like the sun is warm, or that wind creates waves. It looks like Mr. Luke is having fun with it though, so why impute him for an idea?
    btw, “fashion forward” (which is stated in the photo caption) means being ahead of a trend or ahead of a fashion. What was fashionable last fall may not be fashionable this fall, so saying that someone is “fashion forward” is an oxymoron because they are OUT of fashion by the definition of the word.

  • Chas Smith

    I love this man. The rest of you suck.


  • j.k.

    Chicks dig the salvation army look now?

  • ryan miller

    These comments are absolutely hilarious. Thanks for putting a smile on my face in an other wise shitty day.

  • L

    Youtube Bondi Hipsters –

    That’s next level.

  • NXM

    So funny reading all the haters !! you guys are such a gutless bunch of fags , i bet none of you weak cunts even surf ! pretty simple you are all jealous , he surfs better than you , fucks hotter chicks than you and he is a great guy , suck shit haters !!!

  • Strunk & White

    Odds are Steds has better grammar too, NXM…

  • mike

    I think the point people are trying to make is that none of this stuff really has to do with surfing and they don’t want to see it here. If Luke wants to pursue mainstream fashion then good on him. Surfing is about Boards and Trunks and Wetsuits and Surfing. Anything beyond that just isn’t about surfing. Judging from the comments – surfers don’t think it belongs here. Nor does a review on where to get your haircut belong here – even though all surfers do it. Surfers used to be at odds with the cops and the jocks, surf all day, avoid work, pull all the girls – and spend ZERO time fussing about silly things. (or even wasting time on this blog instead of being in the water but since I gotta be at the office…) Can you imagine Kelly Slater or Andy Irons or Chris Ward caring one bit about this stuff? Pretty soon the companies will lose their surf customer – thus losing their mainstream customer who wants to look like a surfer no more – then the companies won’t have enough money to pay anybody to “be” their image – then we won’t have to worry about all this…

  • heluva

    Surfers are always trying new scams to get enough money together so they can keep surfing, whether it be surf school, surf photography, surfboards , repairs or even surf fashion we do that to keep living the dream and if Luke is smart enough to use this hipster movement for his own ends and people are dumb enough to buy into it then I say good luck to him. Alot of you guys need to unbunch your panties.

  • Ben Davidson

    Mike is wrong. Surfing IS fashion. That’s why we admire guys with style (in the water, and out, it’s usually the same). Competitive surfing is in-organic to the actual act of surfing, which is to express yourself and have fun. Steds does this in and out of the water. Just seeing all the hater in here proves he’s doing something right. I hope he’s not reading any of this. Keep on, Luke. (And, um, sorry I won’t be buying any of that stuff.)

  • eastcoast

    got to surf canggu with steds the other day and he seemed like one of the most legit(real) pros i have ever met, mixing it up with everyone and just enjoying himself. let the guy do what the fuck he wants and maybe make some sick ass t’s and knits while hes at it. by the way, the better portion of the east caost of the states is a good 5-10 years behind the rest of the surf world for fashion so im pretty sure steds might make millions if his shit catches on in that section of the world.

  • j

    I think Ricky Whitlock had a good angle in the March issue of surfing mag. “I’m just going to keep being me and let everyone else get weirder and weirder and then eventually normal will be weird and I’ll be marketable.” So true have I grown up with guys now going thru this hipster thing and I don’t understand it.

  • mike

    to each his own opinion. doesn’t mean i’m right or wrong. style, to me, is not defined by what someone wears. the most stylish surfers in and out of the water could give a f3ck about what they wear.

  • mike

    by the way – ricky and his family have style – and doesn’t give a f#ck what he wears. real deal surfers never have to try.

  • j

    what can i say, living in bondi does not make a 35year old man cool, your 15 years older then every other twat doing the same thing. GET A REAL JOB.

    your label is lammmmmme

  • super rad cool dude

    bbarrhahahhaahaaa! i cringed all throughout that interview!!! “the people i hang with are on another level” bbaarrhhahahaaaa i would say you need to take a good hard long look in the mirror, but fucking god knows you already do that!!

    try a little harder mate!!!

  • Paul more like

  • theking

    ever been to bondi or the nth beaches lately………stedman isn’t doing anything new or creative, he is following the pack. there are so many of these clones out there right now, wow, he’s got a beard, wears distressed baggy t-shirts and looks like a smelly hippy, he must be cool !!! NEXT

  • Jamo



    No style in talking about style like you are the god of style.


  • Cardiff92007

    Anchors are so hot right now !

  • salty

    ha! all the people getting mad are the lame-o’s this dude is talking about…((i bet you’re all shortboarders too))
    you all dont have to look the same

    the mo different the mo betta

  • Eman

    Stupid homophobes!