I’m pretty sure I was born without whatever part of the brain it is that enables people to chill out and go with the flow. That’s why, even though I find the lifestyle very appealing, I could never be a beach bum. I’m too high-strung to hang loose; laid back is not a position I assume well, if at all. And that’s one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Mollusk. Designed by surfers, for surfers, the label’s easy-going basics are like a little vicarious slice of a life I’ll never be able to live. Some other reasons I’m a fan: the pieces are totally affordable, look great, and are mostly made in the USA.
Mollusk’s Owner / Founder John McCambridge and Digital Manager Travis Becker recently took some time out to answer a few questions through email. Here’s what they had to say.
Well Spent: Give us the Mollusk origin story.
Mollusk: A group of friends from San Francisco who were all craftspeople of one sort or another needed a space to showcase their work. We were already selling t-shirts to a select few surf shops. It was a natural progression to want to open our own store. Once we opened the SF shop we were supported by such a great community that it seemed logical to expand our reach to Los Angeles. There was also a need to offer ‘alternative’ surfboards. There simply wasn’t anywhere north of LA that sold wider, flatter surfboards; boards that were functional and fun for the waves we have around here.
There’s been a big increase in the brand’s apparel offerings over the last two years. What brought that about?
Again, it was simply a natural evolution. We started with t-shirts and hoodies and became interested in cut and sew board-shorts and the craft of making clothes. We draw on both the east and west coast fashions for inspiration; we aspire to a well-made, tailored look, that retains a kind of wear-all, beach-style attitude.
In addition to expanding the line, you’ve also begun taking on wholesale accounts. Has that influenced your designs at all – now that it’s not just surfers wearing the brand?
We’ve always designed for surfers and non surfers alike. Having a presence in high-end shops around the country has helped us up our game and given us something to work towards. It’s been interesting to see our stuff alongside other brands and to see how it’s received in those markets.
Most of Mollusk’s apparel is made in the USA, and yet still very reasonable priced. How are you able to maintain that?
We work really hard to source factories that specialize in a particular item. For example we work with a factory in Oakland, California that has specialized in outerwear or the past 40 years. These factories ultimately provide us with a superior product and, more often than not, price.
For those of us who’ve never been, tell us about your two California storefronts – where “bean bums unite.” Any plans to open up storefronts in other states?
Our storefronts in San Francisco and Venice Beach have become hangouts and surrogate homes for surfers and artists living in those urban, beachside communities. We carry products in line with our own tastes, which hopefully speak to our customers too. Everyone at Mollusk has some input into what sells through the shop, so our products and goods are very much the result of our collective sensibilities. We’re lucky to be surrounded by talented artist friends such as Jeff Canham, Thomas Campbell, Serena Mitnik-Miller, Alex Kopps, and Nat Russell, among others. All of these people inspire and inform what we do.
Any other upcoming products or projects you can tell us about?
We just layed on our biggest event to date, partnering with specialty events organizer, (((folkYEAH!))) for a 2 day music festival in Big Sur called the Mollusk Jamboree. Right now, we’re in the throes of deciding whether to stage the event next year. It was an honor to have Cass McCombs, Allah-Las, Sonny and the Sunsets, and Autumn Defense perform, among others. In the near future, we have events planned with photographer, Chris Burkard and possibly an exhibition with artist Evan Hecox in the new year.
What would you say to someone who’s still on the fence about buying from Mollusk?
We are striving to produce the best quality clothing we can, while supporting and celebrating U.S-made goods whenever possible. Our aim is for the clothing line, stores and events to speak to and inspire a broad spectrum of people – surfers and non surfers alike – and express our passion for the beach, surfing, art and craftsmanship.
For price and purchase info, visit Mollusk.