Pro surfers travel a lot. Aboard planes, trains, and automobiles, they're constantly scouring the world in search of the next great surf session or contest. And if there's one thing that Australian pro surfer Josh Kerr has learned, you gotta travel in style and comfort. But style and comfort don't always jive. For instance, I love to travel in sweat pants and a hoodie—but hate showing up to an exotic location looking like a bum. It's this quandary that sparked an idea in Kerr's cranium—and spawned the launch of his new lounge/underwear brand: VNDA. We caught up with Josh to get the scoop on his new project …
How did the idea of VNDA come about?
I was sitting in France with my friend and Rusty team manager Ryan Bautista, and I was like, "I want to start something!" You see, everywhere we go, we put on our comfy pants. Like when you're traveling—you always have that one piece of comfortable clothing that reminds you of home. Everyone has that kind of item, and for me, it was these super comfy pants that I used to wear for a coffee run or a nap. Normally they're bland and nothing special. So I was like, “Everyone has these, but nobody's doing them right. No one's doing a rad and comfortable underwear/lounge gear.” That's where the idea came about. So when I came back to the States I brought it to a few people over here—Justin Heit, Greg Fernandez, Chippa Wilson—and got them involved from the start. That was 15 months ago and the rest is history. It was important for me to have Justin Heit involved; he's built and rebranded brands and knew how important it was to have the infrastructure in place from the beginning instead of chasing your tail during the first few years of business.
Did you design the line?
No, we have Libre Design group do that. It's Justin Heit's company, so with him being a founder of VNDA, it's nice to have that asset right there. We're also working with Blacksmith Production to help with production—they work with Stance and some of Nixon's stuff so it's a perfect affiliate.
What does VNDA mean or stand for?
It was a long process. We had so many names get shot down due to trademark issues. We really liked "Unda" since some of our founders are from Down Under, and a lot of the line is underwear, but there was a trademark issue with that. Then we toyed with VNDA, and since “V” is a Latin “U,” it stuck.
What exactly is 'loungewear'? Like, can I wear it out to dinner, or is it something you'd take the trash out in and hope nobody saw you?
I think it's something that. When you put it on, you instantly feel good about yourself [laughs]. When you wear it, you're like, “All my cares and worries have gone away because I'm so comfortable right now.”
So some people have comfort food, but this is comfort wear.
Exactly! Sweatpants are such an iconic piece of clothing, but there's a lot that hasn't been done with them, and that's where VNDA comes in.
Is this something you see yourself doing long after your pro surfing career is over?
Yeah for sure—I've always wanted to start a brand. I also always told myself I was going to stay away from clothing but for some reason I got straight into it [laughs]! It's been a passion project and so much fun to be a part of and a lot of fun to be invested in it myself. You see a lot of skaters and snowboarders start up their own labels and be really successful, but for some reason surfers aren't—most likely because surfers would rather go out and get barreled than start up their own brand!
What's different about VNDA compared to the average “loungewear” brand?
The main difference is the materials and the pants themselves—they're seriously the most comfortable things you'll ever put on—everyone says that straight away. Another thing is the great team we have involved: surfer Chippa Wilson, snowboarder Danny Davis, Sal Masekela, Oliver Kurtz, and all these rad, different people who are just psyched on the product itself. We have a saying, “premium essentials,” like the essentials you take on the road with you whether it's a really nice wine bottle opener, special bag, or whatever makes your life better on the road—that's what we want to be.
For more information head over to vnda.com.
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