Many brands today claim authenticity as if it’s something you just acquire somehow. Not so fast. That in mind, O’Neill has been pushing out a little marketing campaign that highlights their very long history as one of the true core surf brands.
Yes, the O’Neill story is indeed legit.
As we know, it all began with Jack O’Neill simply trying to find a way to stay warm while surfing the frigid waters of Northern California. He began messing around with different rubber-like materials from other industrial applications and soon thereafter, the wetsuit, as we know it, was born. Although a bit rough by today’s standards, they worked and they worked damn well considering the alternatives. About this same time he was also running what has been called the very first surf shop. Pioneer is a bit of an understatement.
Evolution in fabric and design was developing quickly and soon a full-length wetsuit allowed you to surf in conditions that up until that time were downright punishing. Jack O’Neill was at ground zero of those early beginnings and he led the brand through a growth period during the ’70s and ’80s that made O’Neill one of the most recognizable names in surfing.
What started with the local crew in Santa Cruz, quickly became a who’s who of surfing: Shaun Tomson, Dane Kealoha, Kelly Slater, and John Florence, and many others, all wore an O’Neill wetsuit at some point.
As we know, Body Glove, Rip Curl, Aleeda, Peak, and others, soon jumped in the game but O’Neill continued to drive innovation in design and materials and to this day they provide the consumer with one of the warmest, most flexible, and best fitting suits on the market. Some of those brands are no longer around but O’Neill has never wavered as an innovator and trendsetter in a very fickle marketplace. As the opportunity presented itself, the brand began pushing into other categories – like clothing and accessories – bringing to that the same authentic DNA that Jack had long ago instilled in the brand.
Today, the O’Neill brand thrives under the watchful eye of Jack’s son Pat, with guys like Garth Tarlow, Keiran Horn, Paul Canning, Rob Bain, and others, remaining vigilant in keeping the flame that Jack lit alive and burning.
Interestingly, with all of the drama of late within the surf industry, the O’Neill brand quietly rides along, full team intact and heading into another new year.
Disclosure: O’Neill paid us a fee to include advertising assets with this story.