Shared Lifestyles | How Hurley and Fender are uniting their collective DNA at retail
Fender and Hurley teamed up about five years ago. While at first blush the partnership seems unlikely, a deeper dive into Fender’s history proves differently. The guitar brand’s affinity for surf culture began in the 1960s with artist Bob Perine’s campaign for the Fender Jaguar called “You won’t part with yours, either.” The result inspired Southern California youth to ride waves with their Fender guitars and amplifiers in hand or slung around their necks.
In 2011, playing off this “seamless cultural crossover” between music and surf, Fender connected with Hurley at its recording studio in Orange county, giving its artists a chance to play in an intimate studio setting. Led by Hurley Creative Director Craig Stecyk—the iconic godfather of Dog Town and an artist in his own right—the partnership took shape on a mutual respect and love of surfing and rock and roll lifestyle. Over the years, the ongoing relationship has raised $100k for non-profit Waves For Water (W4W), and celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) tradeshow in 2015. Now, Fender and Hurley bring to life a new chapter: a men's capsule collection which today hits select specialty retailers and Hurley.com.
“Working with Fender gave us the opportunity to create product for the consumer that was representative of both brands' heritage and passion,” says Stecyk. “The collaboration represents two innovative brands with deep roots in Southern California culture.”
Fender’s Chief Marketing Officer Evan Jones agrees. “Fender was synonymous in the surf rock sound of the ’50s and '60s; the surf culture embraced the sound of Fender guitar and amp. It was a rare sight to NOT see a surfer with a guitar in their hand during that time. ”
The limited edition seven-piece capsule features Hurley's signature boardshorts with Phantom innovation as well as tees, a zip-up hoodie, flannel and beanie. A highlight from the collection, the SRFGTR tee, is a throwback to Perine’s 1960s campaign.
Detailing on the pieces is also reminiscent of Fender’s lengthy history. Tweed design on the patches and boardshorts was a popular pattern featured on luggage back in the fifties—a decade when Fender first came to life. Admired for its reputation as one of the toughest available fabrics, Fender deemed it a road-worthy material to protect musician's precious cargo. The iconic contour visible on the badging and printable T-shirt originated when Los Angeles based Stecyk worked with a weathered Fender Stratocaster printing it on his Charles Brand etching press on Hurley 's Costa Mesa campus.
Music is a big part of Hurley's DNA.
How did the partnership around Waves for Water originate with Fender? Did Hurley pull them into the mix or was it something they approached your brand about?
Stecyk: We approached Fender. The partnership with Fender led to a charity auction of one-of-a-kind Fender Stratocasters, hand painted by world famous musicians and artists like Brandon Boyd, Johnny Marr, and John Stussy. The auction raised more than 50k for W4W.
How did your collaboration with NAMM come about, and why did it make sense for Hurley as a brand to be involved in an event dedicated to celebrating music?
Stecyk: Music is a big part of Hurley's DNA. NAMM is the largest tradeshow in the US and was a great opportunity for both brands to work together uniting both music and culture in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster.
Fender was synonymous in the surf rock sound of the '50s and '60s; the surf culture embraced the sound of Fender guitar and amp… It was a rare sight to NOT see a surfer with a guitar in their hand during that time.
Fender and Hurley make two very different products. How do you see the crossover in your consumer taking shape with this new men’s capsule? Was there ever a doubt that the two brands’ demographics wouldn’t naturally make the connection?
Jones: While we make different products, our core values of quality, craftsmanship and authenticity are the same and portrayed within anything we put our name behind. Because of that, the natural expressiveness of the brands (and the athletes & musicians that use our products) … tell the story.
Music is universal across all demographics and played a huge part in history and today’s modern culture. Fender was synonymous in the surf rock sound of the ’50s and '60s; the surf culture embraced the sound of Fender guitar and amp. It was a rare sight to NOT see a surfer with a guitar in their hand during that time. This is another touch point we're able to provide to our dedicated consumers, further marrying music and sport.
What opportunities does Fender see within the action sports / adventure lifestyle market, specifically around surf, that led you to continue your relationship with Hurley?
Jones: Every athlete, particularly in this space, uses their sport as an extension of their personality; their equipment conveys their personal style. Fender guitars are a similar tool, providing musicians a means to share their voice. What we continue to see are the athletes in this world turning to music, and in turn, to our products, as another channel for their creative voice to come to life. For us it starts on stage with the best artists and expands to include everyone with a passion for creativity, providing a channel for the next generation of players.
How do you see outside partnerships, like this one with Fender, opening new opportunities for the brand at retail?
Stecyk: Hurley believes in broadening access to sport and partnering with like minded brands and artists gives us the opportunity to create product that resonates with our consumers and retailers.
Who, currently, is Fender’s dominant demographic? Are you working as a brand to expand and broaden that, and if so, which age groups are you targeting, why, and through which primary platforms?
Jones: For over 70 years we have been lucky enough to build a loyal following that spans generations. We have an intuitive brand associated with rock legends and classic rock but the reality is that Fender is used by not only iconic legends but upcoming artists and a new digital generation.
The versatility of our products allow us to transcend musical genres, while maintaining credibility across all levels of players. Continuing to deliver the highest quality physical products, paired with the launch of our new digital products, continues to deliver the Fender name to both long-term players as well as fuel and inspire new players; specifically, a younger demographic more inclined to the digital landscape of learning, and females breaking the mold of musical expectations.
We've made a conscious effort to engage with our community in more of a two-way dialogue, resonating with our consumers by leveraging social media, influencers, and content in an authentic way.
Together with Hurley, we support youth culture, and by embracing our roots as we enter a digital age we can offer a unique platform for creative expression.
What is Fender most excited about in terms of future projects and collaborations with Hurley?
For us, a partnership is more than just a moment in time. We see our relationship with Hurley growing as we continually share more with our communities and provide additional ways to express themselves. Together with Hurley, we support youth culture, and by embracing our roots as we enter a digital age we can offer a unique platform for creative expression. We're excited to continue building the Fender tradition, opening the door for a new wave of players to experience the brand and join a community that stands on 70 years of legacy, and the natural crossover between sport and music will remain an integral part of the lifestyle we represent.