The story goes that whilst stationed near My Khe beach in the city of Da Nang, a young naval officer from Florida called Larry Martin noticed the ‘rescue surfboards’ used by the lifeguards. The strip of shoreline, known as China Beach to the American soldiers due to its position on the South China Sea, was already a popular spot for rest and relaxation—a place for parties and pick-up football—but Martin knew surfing could offer something more.
In 1967, with the blessing of his superior officer and the help of the lifeguards, he created the South China Surf Club. Operating out of a simple shack, the club offered lessons and rented out boards—essentially creating a ‘surf therapy refuge’ that allowed soldiers to swap the horrific conditions of jungle warfare for perfect waves and the soothing powers of the ocean. As one report on the club stated, it was “an oasis of freedom in a world gone crazy.”
Taking inspiration from this iconic surf club, the new collection combines laid-back beach-wear with hard-wearing military-flavoured garb. New items like our Jungle Pants and Jungle Jacket are inspired by military-wear of the time, albeit with a slightly more modern interpretation, whilst styles such as the Miki Shorts are influenced by the lightweight nylon garb introduced for surfers in the 1960s as the sport grew in popularity. The Moorehouse Shirt is another new design—a light button-down shirt which is a tip of the hat to the Ivy-influenced clothing often worn by surfers on dry land.
Patches and prints play a big part in the collection—with the term ‘Oasis of Freedom’ screen printed on the Four Pocket Jacket, Fatigue Pants and Canvas Tote—all made from deadstock tiger-stripe camo. This unique camo was first devised by the South Vietnamese Armed Forces fighting the Viet Cong, created specifically for jungle combat—and although it was never officially issued to American soldiers, it was often worn by Green Berets and Navy Seals.
Continuing on the print theme—the t-shirt and sweat range features designs based on vintage surf graphics. To compliment the laid-back feel of the collection, the fabrics have been washed for a vintage, worn-in flavour and a soft, comfortable handle.
As well as all this, Stan Ray classics like the Painter Pants and the Fatigues (as well as their slightly roomier siblings, the Fat Pants) return, in a range of tough, summer-friendly fabrics. The extremely popular hickory-striped gear is back too—this time with the option of an all-over palm tree embroidery.
In short, it’s military and work-wear, relaxed and refined for modern life.