What are the Malloys doing back east with 500 pounds of rubber?

posted by / Some Answers / November 16, 2009

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Some answers with Chris and Keith Malloy

They couldn’t have known. Planning their East Coast sales retreat for the Outer Banks in fall, Patagonia was looking for good waves and mild weather. Instead they got the nor’easter equivalent of a Cat One hurricane. Whether you call it the Atlantic Assault or the Friday the 13th Storm, for the Malloy Brothers that meant less time testing wetsuits, more time testing “outerwear” — and even more hours indoors “showing the line.” No worries. That’s actually the real reason they came.

SURFING MAGAZINE: What are y’all doing here at a glorified sales meeting?

KEITH: Well, in a nutshell, these guys are here showing the wetsuit line to the East Coast shops. We all helped develop the wetsuits , we’re proud of ‘em, so we wanted to be here to talk to the guys, too.

CHRIS: I think when we came on with Patagonia a lot of the people thought we were nuts. Like, “What are you thinking?” We had a great deal with Hurley, a great relationship with Bob. But I’d see people wearing stuff just because I wore it in an ad. With Patagonia, we’re so involved, it’s got to the point where the reps and designers can’t show the line without us butting in. So when they asked us to come, we were like, “We want to go.” Those guys have to do the whole selling thing, but for us to tell the stories is satisfying.

Keith Malloy  Photo: Taras

Keith Malloy Photo: Taras

You’ve got Fletcher [Chouinard] here, too. Are you showing boards? Clothes? Or just rubber?

KEITH: Mostly wetsuits on this trip. But we’re involved in everything, A to Z. Back home it’s all in one compound, really, so we spend half our day with the clothing designer. Then go over and work with Fletch on boards. Then wetsuits . . .

CHRIS: It’s fun, because we work with these guys with alpine backgrounds. You say, “I wonder how we can do this?” And they go, “We’ll, we’ve done it this way for 20 years.” Like the grid on the inside [of the suits] isn’t some arbitrary shape, it helps pull the moisture of your skin. And it’s straight from the alpine world.

Since Dan’s not here yet, can you describe his role?

KEITH: He’s worked a ton on the boardshorts. He’s obsessed with the perfect boardshort.

CHRIS: Dan’s actually proved to be a bit of a gear nerd. He gets into details. He made a beanie with a notch in it for your nose, so you can slide it around to cover your eyes and sleep on plane flights. It also has a draw string so you can use it as a little sack. He and one our main designers will take the train to Cardiff and go find stuff in thrift stores, get nerdy, then follow ideas along until they make it into the line. It can take a while, though. That’s the most frustrating part, because they test everything so much.

So it’s not, “plaid’s in, let’s make plaid.”

KEITH: Function’s always the main goal, not fashion. When we design something, we ask: will we wear this in 10 years? And if not, we won’t make it. We’re usually behind on fashion anyway because sometimes it takes two years to put something out.

Well, those new fleece-lined bell-bottoms do look pretty insane.

Chris: [laughs] Well, it’s actually more satisfying knowing something will last ten years. But simplicity is an aesthetic of its own.

Park bench siesta Photo: Taras

Park bench siesta Photo: Taras

Do the reps ever have to tell you guys to shut up or escort you out of the room?

CHRIS: [laughs] I definitely can get long-winded. But what if so–and-so is showing the Quik line and Dane or one of their top riders walked up and said, ‘Check this button, I had this in Bali, and it popped off, so we did this . . .’ ? I think they’d like it.

KEITH: And it’s nice to, because we do really believe in it. We’re not just making shit up.


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