The Inside Scoop

The Inside Scoop

Tom Wegener 
PhD Surf Culture- Noosa Longboards Designer Head Shaper/ Designer
Tom moved to Noosa over 20 years ago after a
stellar contest career in California as a team rider
at Takayama, pioneering longboard film maker
and board maker. He has been part of the NL
family for two decades and has won Surfer Magazine World Shaper of the year.

Tully St John
Tully is a second-generation board maker and part of
Noosa board making royalty. An accomplished short
and longboard rider and thirty years in the shaping
room- 75% of his life! He is the current Contest
Director for our iconic Noosa Festival of Surfing, what
he doesn’t know about surfing Noosa isn’t worth
knowing. It’s the ultimate partnership for us, quality drives every outcome.

Q. Football days are numbered, that knee just isn’t what it used to be. I am 30 years old, in pretty good shape, surfing is going to be my new thing on weekends, what’s the best design to get me paddling and standing quickly. I have my ego to worry about!

If you stay within your comfort zone, small waves and easy conditions, the First Point is best. But, if you surf when you can and end up in less than ideal beach breaks, the Tea Tree is the board for you, the extra rocker and three fins are more suited for all around beach conditions.

Tully: The First Point and Little Cove models are designed for all riders, from beginner to pro. Both are easy and fast boards to paddle with heaps of glide and stability.

Q. I have seen this longboard revolution with girls in recent Years, would love to be a part of it, thinking it’s something my mum and I could both do, am 20 something, she is 40 something and young at heart. If we got a board each what style should we be looking for? Should the size and shape be a little different for females? ... And some tips on where to go to and what conditions until we get our confidence up?

Tom: If you are surfing with your mom your likely to search for easier, more predictable point or gentle sandbanks at the river mouth. The little cove would be best for mom. It is easy to control and you do not have to walk to turn it. For the son, the First point would be more stimulating with easier nose-riding options and stylish turns.

Tully: The Little Cove model is a great style for any rider. It’s easy to paddle and allows for a stable and controlled ride. The size and shape of the board depends on the rider. Boards can differ depending on your size, fitness and skill level. Noosa has many beginner friendly spots, including Little Cove and along the Noosa Spit. Mid-tide and smaller waves are ideal conditions for anyone to get their confidence up.

Q. Why buy a top end hand shaped board?

Tom: Talking to a shaper and getting a board made for you is the best option. There is a special connection of spirit from the artisan through the board to the rider. Understanding your board gives you a better sense of how to flow with the wave and feel the board interaction. It enhances the surfing experience.

Tully: A top end hand shaped board will last a lifetime. The quality materials used and the attention to detail creates a board that will perform better and last longer. Hand shaped boards can also be customised to the surfer and for the surf breaks.

Q. I reckon I have the basics pretty well covered. I surfed when I was a teenager with mates and getting back into it at 50, would love to be able to nose ride though, do you have some tips and what’s the easiest board to noseride on? You have a lot of different models?

Tom: For noseriding, the First Point is the best board for you. It is the most stable and trims through the white-wash well. This is important for setting up the noseride

Tully: The First Point model is designed with a wider nose and tail for longer and easier nose rides. The addition of a longer or wider fin provides additional hold and stability while hanging ten.

Q. Is it worth spending the extra money and maybe having more than one board? I am getting to the ocean more and more and i am not sure my single fin noserider first point model I got last year is working for me on beach breaks. I only go out when it below head height but it feels a bit awkward at time- I surf ‘okay’. Is it me or should I consider another board with more rocker or a midlength with three fins maybe? PS love my Tom Wegener belly board. It doesn’t matter what the surf is like, I never waste a drive from Brisbane!

Tom: To answer your question, you may want to try other boards off the hire rack at NL. Next time you come up and the surf is too big for the First Point, try another board like a Tea Tree or Boiling Pot. You will know right away if you want to go down that path.

Tully: It’s always a great idea to have more than one board for the different conditions and surf breaks. The Tee Tree and Boiling Pot models have more rocker and the option to have a box and side fins which will be easier to control and better suited for beach breaks.

Q. I hate asking about boards in store, I don’t know what they are talking about half the time. Planning on flying to Noosa next school holidays, help me out here guys! What difference does the rocker make on longboards?

Tom: Less rocker is harder to control when you are on the wave, but it paddles faster and is faster in small waves. More rocker is for bigger or less perfect waves because it is easier to turn and more stable.

Tully: More rocker on a board is suited for steeper waves and increased maneuverability. Less rocker will increase speed and allows faster paddling.

Q. What about concaves and double concaves, what’s the science with them?

Tom: Concaves create lift and quicken acceleration, when they are from the middle of the board to the tail. Double concave through the tail gives lift and speed through turns. When in the nose they give a little stability when noseriding.

Tully: Single concaves increase the water flow for speed and easy paddling. Double concaves also increase water flow but provides more turn and responsiveness.

Q. 50/ 50 rails/ 60/40 rails, what the hell does that stuff mean and how does it influence the type of board I should have as a weekend warrior?

Tom: 50/50 rails pull the board into the wave and the board is more nimble to slight adjustments. They are for small waves. Rails with an edge are meant to skate on top of water and are for bigger waves. They will skim out on to the shoulder for hard turns.

Tully: Surfboard rails influence the way the board performs in different conditions. 50/50 Rails provide more hold and stability and are better for noseriding. 60/40 Rails provide more release and turn-ability while also maintaining stability.

Q. If I have two different fins, can it really change the way my board surfs?

Tom: Having the right fin for the board is critical! The board and fin work together. A small change in fin or fin placement will change the feel of the board. If the board catches or does not follow your stream of consciousness, you probably need to move the fin or try a new one.

Tully: A fin with more flex and a narrower tip will give the longboard more turn-ability. A wider fin will give more hold for easy and controlled noserides. An all round longboard fin will turn and noseride.

Q. Okay, you try to get to the ocean two or three Saturdays a month surfing and maybe an annual trip to Noosa, you reckon you are an okay weekend warrior on your longboard, should you be going for a hipster noserider to look like the post hippie, crazy talented local crew on the points or an all rounder maybe? One or three fins?

Tully: An all rounder is great for those who surf a little less often and is versatile for different conditions. The Tee Tree model is the perfect all-rounder for surfing the points and the open beaches. It has more rocker for steeper waves, the box and side fin set-up allow for easier control, and there’s plenty of volume in the nose for hanging ten.

$250 off all surfboards and
free shipping East Coast Aus


September 29, 2023 — Ashenafi Holmes
The story behind the artist

The story behind the artist

13th of Feb 2022

Q: How long have you lived in Noosa?


A: Can’t be sure exactly... I know it was prior to the great bush turkey inundation around 1992...


Q: What drives you to be creative?


A: Flat ocean days & the need to eat.. HaHa! No, seriously I don’t need a driver, if anything I need someone to stop me from doing so. I’m sort of addicted to it.


Q: What’s the best spot you have ever surfed?


A: Haha! Not telling you!


Q: What type of board do you ride?


A: Anything that floats.

Q: Everyone has a good app idea. What’s yours?


A: A shark alarm app that controls a drone fitted with a loudspeaker to clear the water when you want to go surfing.


Q: If someone said they were thinking of starting in the creative industries, what would your advice to them be?


A: Go surfing!


Q: What would your autobiography be called?


A: Soaked in colour & covered in salt.


Q: If you could nominate anyone for PM who would it be?


A: Myself. I’m just in it for the retirement pension cheques.



Q: Who would be your favourite artist?


A: Anyone who has the courage to pick up a pencil or brush.


Q: What Does Your Art Mean to You?


A: Everything!

Q: As you know Leroy, we sell vinyl and turntables, Rock’n’Roll is part of our DNA.. if you had to make a call are you...


Beatles or the Stones?


Led Zeppelin or Guns n Roses?


Van Morrison or Ed Sheeran?


Pink Floyd or Genesis?


The Beach boys or ... that's a silly question, it’s The Beach Boys.


A: Def – Led Zepplin, Van The Man, Pink Floyd, And The Stones !

Q: Leroy, you worked with Noosa Longboards in the early days on the original board range decals and other projects at the time, now you are in the creative hot seat again with the new summer apparel range and various other refreshes ... tell us a little about that journey and coming full circle with Noosa Longboards?


A: It’s been a fun ride & nice to see NLB still going strong some 20yrs on!

I have done a bit of stuff for NLB over the years, even been the counter jockey at times selling a few boards & tees myself.

I think I’ve designed nearly everything from stubby coolers to beach towels over those years. It’s a great feeling to see someone walking down the point wearing a shirt or even swilling a beer from one of your designs.

The store has evolved many times adapting to trends in surf style, equipment & culture, now adapting again to have a greater online presence than ever before.

Mike has always been good at following the lead or recommendations from creatives, whether it be Shapers or Designers to get the most functional & best-designed products into NLB.

It’s always rewarding to be working in your own backyard & contributing to a culture you love so much. What a great place to be!!


Thank you!

Enter your email and receive 15% off your first order.

February 21, 2022 — Ash Holmes
What we’re listening to - Exile on Main Street

What we’re listening to - Exile on Main Street

Followers of Rock n Roll the world over would frequently name the Stones’ 1971 release Sticky Fingers, with its artwork designed by Andy Warhol, as one of the most iconic album covers of all time. This album also introduced the even more recognizable Rolling Stones tongue logo, which itself represents one of the world’s most famous works of pop art. But the following year, the release of Exile on Main Street featured an album cover that is less well-recognized but arguably just as influential on the historic progression of Rock n Roll album artwork.

Exile on Main Street was recorded during a critical turning point in the psyche of popular culture. “The hippy-acid-peace-love thing was long gone”, explained Don Was, bassist of funk-rock band Was (Not Was). “There was something in the air, you know… Coppola was making Apocalypse Now at the same time, there was definitely the sense that the 60s didn’t work and you had to either blow up the system or flee from it”. 

By the Spring of 1971, having spent all the money they owed in taxes and locked in a dispute with their record label over royalties following the commercial success of Sticky Fingers, the Stones were fleeing the British tax authorities. They decamped to the opulent Villa Nellcote at Villefranche-sur-mer, sandwiched between Nice and Monaco in the south of France, where they could evade hefty British tax rates. 

Jagger and Keith Richards at Villa Nellcote

As accustomed as they were to travel, the band hated leaving England and struggled to adapt, but as Charlie Watts later claimed, “I had to get out in order to pay the tax I had incurred...we felt as if we had been edged out of our own country”. 

In exile on the Cote d’Azur, the band entered a period of incredible creative productivity and hedonistic excess which ultimately produced Exile on Main Street. The villa was constantly filled with a procession of characters, hangers on, musicians, sound technicians, mafioso drug dealers, and other visitors such as the beat writer William S. Burroughs and John Lennon. 

With no music industry in that part of the world, they found that the recording facilities were extremely poor. The acoustics were so bad that different instruments had to be recorded in different parts of the house. Richards preferred to record alone in the kitchen, because the tiles produced a pleasing reverb effect on his guitar solos. Drugs were ubiquitous and the band rarely all stayed sober enough to record together at the same time. Jagger was constantly away in Paris. “The gear never worked properly, the lights would go on and off, there were fires… it was just insane”, recalled recording engineer, Andy Johns. Night after night, their substance-fuelled recording sessions boomed from the Villa Nellcote across the bay of Villefranche deep into the early morning.

Exile on Main Street reflects the chaos of this time in the band’s history. There was no master plan for the album. Instead, it was produced over many months of artistic improvisation as the Stones drew on their various influences, from R&B to Soul, Country and roots Rock. The eclectic nature of the record was initially met with confusion and mixed reviews, but over time it has become widely recognized as the Stones’ best musical achievement, and is rated the 14th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone.

When the band convalesced in Los Angeles during the final stage of the album’s production, they turned to pop-artist John Van Hamersveld to produce the cover art. He was summoned to the band’s mansion in Bel Air, where he met with the band, along with the photographer Norman Seeff, Marshall Chess (president of Rolling Stones Records), and Robert Frank, a celebrated photographer famous for his documentation of 1950s American beat culture.

Jagger’s brief demanded a cover that depicted the Stones as "runaway outlaws using the blues as its weapon against the world…grinning in the face of a scary and unknown future". After discussing ideas for the album art for a while, Van Hamersveld was handed a photograph of the wall of a Route 66 tattoo parlour taken by Frank as he passed through in 1950. “Mick, on my right, looks on for both of us to agree, so I nod”. This was the photograph, with its unsettling collection of faces and characters, that became the cover of Exile on Main Street. He left Bel Air with this and a selection of other photographs by Frank and Seeff that would make up the rest of the album art.

John recalls that when he got back to his studio he played the song 'Sympathy For The Devil'. “I think about how to design, in a "Beat style", the concept of a “pop art” package. I have to make it so it will work as an image in a competitive market place. I envisage the package as a painter's fine art print. I had been using various kinds of mediums like brushed inks, crayons, markers, paint and airbrush tools with complicated layered stripping and printing tricks to gain the effects I needed [for other projects], but in this case I need just the basics - drafting tape and ripped paper.”

A signed copy of Exile on Main Street at Noosa Longboards

The result was a jarring and controversial package that perfectly reflected the eclectic and anarchical character of the music contained inside. And although the album made heavy reference to the Beat era, it also foreshadowed the next evolution of Rock n Roll. “To the spectators, critics, and others in the Establishment, I had made a package that was not glamorous. It was not a friendly image to put on display in the record stores, but it was THAT image that established the anti-establishment look of PUNK.” As John later recalled, “in 1984, my friend John Lydon (frontman for the Sex Pistols) said to me "The Stones’ Exile package set the image of punk in 1975 - we used that graphic feel to communicate our message".

Anyone familiar with punk will recognize the slapdash, ripped collage aesthetic that Lydon was referring to. If you’re interested in learning more about Exile on Main Street, you can purchase the vinyl LP for yourself from Noosa Longboards. We also have other examples of John’s iconic artworks, signed and framed by the artist himself.

We are Surf, Aloha, Rock n Roll.


October 26, 2020 — Peter Humphreys
Did the Duke ever meet the King?

Did the Duke ever meet the King?

This article is adapted from a piece originally published in Pacific Longboarder 2009, vol.13 issue 2

A recent trip to Hawaii taking in the Duke Fest reinforced in my mind that the Aloha sport and the spirit of Duke Poa Kahanamoku himself is very much alive and that Waikiki, the spiritual home of surfing, can still offer and inspirational experience.

Run by the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, the Duke Fest is primarily a fundraiser for junior scholars and sportspeople and features a multitude of beach sports including the Rabbit Kekai Pro Longboard, the Gidget Women’s Tandem, Paddleboard, SUP, a mile ocean swim and beach volleyball.

A little-known fact is that the Duke himself introduced volleyball to Santa Monica Beach, sparking a craze that eventually morphed into a major mainstream pro sport in the US and around the world. Remarkably, after his international swimming career, at 42 Duke also made the US water polo team or the 1932 Olympic Games.

With so many fine watermen and women in their prime and many others just past it, the competitive spirit at the Duke Fest was alive and well. But above all, the emphasis across all events is on participation and fun – the Duke was known for being a fierce competitor but also for recognizing there were times when it was best for somebody else to win. 

The 2009 Ho’omana opening ceremony was conducted on the lawns, adjoining the lagoon behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, virtually on the very site where the Kahanamoku boys were raised some 100 years ago. This amazing hotel on 25 acres with seven towers has plenty of history itself, albeit mid 20th century. I looked up at the top floor of the Rainbow Tower during the ceremony and imagined Elvis, who stayed there when doing his three Hawaiian based films and the legendary Aloha Concert (beamed live around the world), leaning out over his balcony and looking up  the beach at the breathtaking view of Diamond  Head. Elvis, by the way, has a statue constructed in his honour in Waikiki for his generous contributions to the Pearl Harbour Memorial.

Right next door to the Hilton at Fort De Russey, some 30 years before the Aloha Concert, a young Dutchman with big dreams serving at the military base decided he’d take the name of his commanding officer for his new life in America. Under his new name, Colonel Tom Parker immigrated to the mainland, where he lived as an illegal immigrant for the remainder of his life. He would meet a young truck driver from Memphis and music would change forever.

Apart from army service in Germany, because of Tom Parker’s immigration status the only place the King ever visited or performed a concert outside mainland US was Hawaii. He was considered an honorary Hawaiian and the state had the largest per capita fan club membership in the world. Elvis was known to sneak into the Hilton showroom late when the lights had gone down and take a private seat to watch the Don Ho show. This would sometimes be followed by a trip with Memphis Mafia buddies and some pretty little things down to Duke Kahanamoku’s Club at the International Marketplace on Kalakaua Ave… I wonder…  did the King ever cross paths with the Duke? Given the huge of public attention that followed both men wherever they went, surely, if they did meet, somebody would have managed to capture it on camera. I have spent a fair amount of time searching, and to my knowledge no such photograph has ever come to light…

July 10, 2020 — Ashenafi Holmes
Noosa Longboards Adina Watches Special Edition

Noosa Longboards Adina Watches Special Edition

Words by collab partner Grant Menzies from Adina Watches 

An exciting partnership with Noosa Longboards has set Adina Watches on a trajectory with another iconic Australian brand. Once again, two worlds collide. The ensuing collaboration has seen a Surf, Aloha, and Rock ‘n’ Roll culture woven into two classic Adina wristwatches.

Queensland iconic Noosa Longboards started beside the river in Noosaville in 1994. At the beginning of the longboard renaissance in Australia.

As family business, against all advice from bankers, locals, and just about anybody with an opinion, Noosa Longboards took the plunge. They moved and set up shop on the world-famous Hastings Street. No one imagined that this small family business could take on the financial might of the world’s multinational brands – but they were wrong! Twenty-six years later the Noosa Longboards store is considered a local icon – a surf lifestyle emporium for all.

With a proud history that in many ways mirrored our own here at Adina Watches, we found a natural fit. Our pedigree in water proof watches would certainly put us in good stead as we began the journey to create a lifestyle surf watch for Noosa Longboards. The brief from father and son duo, Michael and Ash Holmes, was very simple: a classical yet robust watch that is fun to wear. In other words, “A piece of Noosa on your wrist, wherever you are!”

“A piece of Noosa on your wrist, wherever you are!”

We first decided on the size. A unisex model of 34mm and a bolder sized model of 42mm.

The smaller model is built around the Noosa Longboards “classic” logo, whilst the 42mm is emblazoned with the Noosa Longboards “Hex” logo, which gives a bold garage feel to the watch.

Each watch has been crafted from cold stamped, marine grade stainless steel with simple classical lines. These two watches have been designed to be worn everyday, therefore 100m rated. Each model employs a classic flat matt black background on the dial with simple luminous numbers to ensure easy reading and high visibility in day and night.

A highly scratch resistant sapphire crystal was a must as was the ability to personalise the watch further, through strap interchangeability. Each watch comes complete with two extra straps in its signature vintage traveling trunk.

As Michael said to me before we began this journey “Every time the owner of a Noosa Longboards Adina watch checks the time, I want them to feel the sand of Noosa between their toes!”

After a year of planning and development, no virus was going to stop this project.

For the first 20 watches sold of this limited release we want to offer up a $50 online store voucher redeemable with code #watchout to be used on the Noosa Longboards website



March 31, 2020 — Ash Holmes
Noosa Longboards First Point Hastings Street Surf

Girls Surfing: The New Beat

There is a new beat in surfing.  It is quiet, soothing and beautiful to experience. 
January 23, 2020 — Ashenafi Holmes
John Van Hamersveld, Words by Tom Wegener PhD Surf Culture.

John Van Hamersveld, Words by Tom Wegener PhD Surf Culture.


John Van Hamersveld


The great eras of history have shaped who we are today. Sometimes an artist can capture the energy, vibrancy and change of an era in one image. John Van Hamersveld is one of these artists.  His lithograph of the Endless Summer poster simply captures the warmth and stoke of the “Golden Age” of surfing.  When I work in Noosa Longboards, I am struck by the impact of the vivid image on a daily basis.  Every day I am transported to my 8-year-old self, watching the Endless Summer for the first time and deciding that I will be a surfer. 

Please check out this video to meet John. We quickly realize that he is a living link to the age of Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles and the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

Another of John’s great works is the album cover for the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. It impacted me dramatically and captured the wildest part of my life. When I see it, my memories flood back into my brain, not only reliving the experiences but shaping how I see the world today.

1n 1994, Bill Burke and I were touring our 8mm surf film, Ten Toes Over, around the coastal United States.  A cool longboard culture had sprouted in Southern California and we hoped to share that with the rest of the country.  As we played the movie through Texas and Florida, we realized that longboarders were still personas non gratis in the rest of the country. We would go to surf spots and hand out flyers for our movie to a very cold reception.  After another poorly attended show, we were licking our wounds at our friend Dan Preto’s house. As he played Exile on Mainstreet loud in the living room, I sat mesmerized by the album cover. This is who I was at the moment - driving down main street with longboards on our car, in a surf town, and totally not belonging.  John Van Hamersveld had caught the era of change and rebellion and I was deeply influenced by his creation.

John created the Exile cover in 1972 and It was 22 years later that I bonded with the art, yet it has been 25 years since then, and the art still holds true.

John Van Hamersveld’s images have captured the wild eras of change.  He is still here to share them. I sure you will bond with John’s art in the same way I have.

Please check out John’s limited edition signed lithographs at Noosa Longboards.

Noosa Longboards is the licensee for Endless Summer/Bruce Brown films’ imagery and exclusive stockist of John Van Hamersveld art.

Surf. Aloha. Rock n Roll.


Ash & Michael Holmes pictured with John in his L.A Home

December 03, 2019 — Ashenafi Holmes
Vintage Aloha a Noosa Favourite

Vintage Aloha a Noosa Favourite

by Caitin Zarafa - Noosa News

WHEN you think of Noosa's surf culture, one iconic store springs to mind.

Noosa Longboards has been bringing Hawaiian flavour and a retro surf vibe to town since it opened 25 years ago.

As one of Hastings St's longest standing stores, being on the strip for 19 years, walking inside is like taking a step into a 1960s surf shack on famous Waikiki Beach.

A family-owned business with passion running through its veins, owner Michael Holmes said they work to emulate a soulful and authentic atmosphere.

"We look back at the '50s and '60s and we are retro inspired. That's the feeling we hope people get,” he said.

"People connect with it, and in a digital and online world we still think there is a place for that tactile and bespoke experience.”

 Noosa News Noosa Longboards store

Noosa Longboards prides itself on sourcing vintage shirts and brands.

"We go to Hawaii two or three times every year, so we know where to source the best vintage aloha shirts,” Mr Holmes said.

"About half the Hawaiian shirts in the shop are vintage from the '60s, '70s and '80s. People love the authenticity of it and say 'I'm buying a shirt that was around Waikiki in the '60s when Elvis was alive'.”

Describing the shirts as an art form, Mr Holmes said each design had symbolic meaning to the native Hawaiian people.

"It's fun and freedom and tropical lifestyle, but it's also got a substance and a heartbeat behind it.”

Mr Holmes said Noosa lent itself to longboarding, so no wonder World Longboard Champion and seven- time Australian champion Josh Constable, who has worked at the store since he was a junior, calls it home.

"If (Noosa's) not the best longboard break in the world, it's awfully close,” MrHolmes said.

April 10, 2019 — Ashenafi Holmes
What we're listening to

What we're listening to

Vintage Van Morrison! Van Morrison wrote Gloria while performing with The Monarchs in Germany at the age of 18. Morrison began to perform the song when he returned to Belfast and joined up with The Gamblers to form Them, who finally released this song on the B-Side of Baby Please Don't Go in 1964. But check out this video - how much better can it get? 

March 12, 2019 — Ashenafi Holmes
The Surprising History of the Aloha Shirt

The Surprising History of the Aloha Shirt

The King on the cover of his album, "Blue Hawaii" - you can buy this shirt at Noosa Longboards!

At Noosa Longboards ‘aloha’ is quite literally our middle name. When Chris de Aboitiz founded Noosa Longboards 25 years ago in 1994, he brought all his passion for the culture of his childhood home in Waikiki to the Sunshine Coast. Since its inception, Noosa Longboards has prided itself in searching out unique and genuine items of Hawaiiana to share with our customers.


By far our favourite piece of Hawaiian culture is the Aloha shirt. After all, there is almost no symbol of Hawaii more widely recognizable or more widely loved. The irresistible magnetism of the Aloha shirt has allowed it to transcend all cultural boundaries - it is no exaggeration to say that the Hawaiian shirt one of the most widely recognized cultural icons on earth.


But what is an Aloha shirt? Where did it come from? The truth is, it’s not just a holiday shirt or a crowd favourite among Queensland’s cricket goers. What many people may not realise is that there is much more to the Aloha shirt than meets the eye. It has a rich, unique, and at times surprising history that once learned only adds to its charm. The irony about the Aloha shirt is that it is both wildly popular and under-appreciated at the same time. 


The story of the Aloha shirt starts in the late 1800s, when thousands of Japanese and Chinese workers began to immigrate to Hawaii to provide labour for the growing sugar and pineapple industries. Life in this line of work was harsh for the newcomers, and the most resourceful among them found ways to strike out on their own.


One popular business among the immigrant community was to import cotton and silk textiles from Asia and fashion the fabric into garments that were suited to local needs. Over time, a cottage industry of textile and fabric makers, as well as home sewers and tailors developed. In the late 1800s, Hawaiian-made clothing did not look like it does today, but the tough Hawaiian fabrics of the time were nevertheless popular in the mainland United States. 


In the 1920s and 30s, Japanese Hawaiian tailors built up a small business experimenting with spare lengths of imported Kabe crepe fabric usually used for traditional kimono to fashion shirts. This light weight and colourful shirt proved a hit in the hot climate and seemed to exude a vibe that suited the laid-back island lifestyle. This is the reason early Aloha shirts had a distinctly oriental flavour. It’s something you’d be unlikely to spot if you didn’t already know, but once you look at a side by side comparison of Japanese fabrics and Hawaiian shirts, the stylistic link is unmistakable. 

Koichiro Miyamoto, aka "Musa-Shiya the Shirtmaker" - one of the original Aloha shirt tailors

But It wasn’t until the 1940s that the Aloha shirt really took off. Because of the war, it was no longer possible to rely on Japanese fabrics, and local shirt makers turned to their local surroundings for inspiration for their designs. For the thousands of US military servicemen stationed on Hawaii, the discovery of these unique shirts was a sensation. Nothing seemed to better capture the essence of the extraordinary time and place they had found themselves in. When they returned home carrying these shirts as souvenirs, the Aloha shirt went global. They made such an impression that pretty soon everyone was wearing them – from Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby, to beachgoers in California and actors in Hollywood. Even President Harry Truman was known to have an extensive collection.

Below: On the left – a typical Japanese Kimono print. On the right – an early Aloha shirt design

Contemporary Aloha shirts constantly revive and reinvent the work produced by the old school craftsmen of this era. That’s why the Hawaiian shirt is a living, breathing antique. At Noosa Longboards you can find some of the best examples of high quality Aloha shirt brands that keep these vintage designs alive. Avanti and Reyn Spooner just can’t be beat. If you want to learn more, then look no further than Dale Hope’s definitive book, The Aloha Shirt, which you can find in store or online. If you’ve got some real beauties in your collection, we’d love it if you shared some photos with us - just send them through on Facebook or Instagram!


February 25, 2019 — Peter Humphreys
John Van Hamersveld - The Maker of Surfing's Most Iconic Poster

John Van Hamersveld - The Maker of Surfing's Most Iconic Poster

John Van Hamersveld


Those familiar with John Van Hamersveld’s work would not be surprised to learn that his interest in art was first sparked by his mother’s en plein air watercolors of his childhood home, Palos Verdes, in south-west LA. It’s not hard to imagine how the vibrant, blocky expanses of orange, green, and blue that typify the scenery along the coast of California could’ve inspired a 50-year career that has produced some of the most iconic pop-art in history.

John’s work producing album artworks for a dizzying list of rock ‘n’ roll legends, such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Kiss, Blondie, and many others established him early on in his career as nothing short of a pop-art phenomenon.


Magical Mystery Tour


But John was still in art school when he produced what is by far his most famous and widely recognized work - the poster for Bruce Brown’s breakout film, The Endless Summer.

The connection between John and Bruce started well before they even knew each other - both had the shared experience of growing up in SoCal at a time when the legends of the Beat surfing generation were at their height. As a teenager, John became a surfer and spent his afternoons in the water with the likes of ‘da cat’ Miki Dora, Lance Carson, and Phil Becker. Tom Blake, one of the most revered figures in the history of surfing and the first man to put a fin on a board, taught John to swim.

Bruce and Van Hamersveld began their collaboration when John designed Bruce’s business card - which he had liked. After showing him the film’s opening scene on an old Moviola editing machine, Bruce invited John to produce the poster for a fee of $150.

“On this little, tiny screen, there he is with the board on top of his head,” Van Hamersveld recalls. “I said, ‘I can take that and do a poster.'”

John photographed Bruce Brown and his film’s two stars, Mike Hynson and Robert August, late one afternoon in January 1964 at Salt Creek Beach, Dana Point. As Hynson and August stood in front of the setting sun, John suggested at the last moment that Bruce step into the foreground and adopt that famous pose. The masterpiece was complete.

Using a technique he had just learned at art school, John then turned that photo into an abstract design by reducing each color to a single tone and giving each image a single, hard edge. He bought Day-Glo paint for the silk-screening and hand-lettered the words “The Endless Summer” at the bottom.

Although the film Gidget had brought the idea of surfing to the masses, it inspired many other cheap and nasty Hollywood imitations. The Endless Summer brought to the public the soul of surfing as it really was.

And that soul was perfectly captured in one Day-Glo image that very quickly came to hang all around the world - from hip New York City flats to sweaty Army tents in the jungles of Vietnam. Surf culture has never been the same since.

To this day, The Endless Summer poster remains one of the most enduring symbols of surfing. That’s why Noosa Longboards is so proud to partner under licence agreement with Bruce Brown Films Image Library and work with John Van Hamersveld to bring this artwork to all lovers of surf culture in Australia.

February 12, 2019 — Peter Humphreys