In the crowded world of surf brands, it takes more than a nice cut and a cool graphic to stay in the game, let alone enter it as a new player. That’s why selling a lifestyle has become as—if not more—important as selling the label itself. One of the best examples out there right now is surf wear up-and-comers Quality Peoples, whose exquisite branding is centered around serene landscapes, a call to the hermit’s life, and a celebration of idleness. But at $49.00 a tee, they’re not selling to beach-bums or hermits; Quality Peoples’ clientele can afford to burn a hundred bucks on a couple of shirts. These are working people, usually. In other words, people who are, ironically, too busy to live the lifestyle they are buying into.
Let’s be clear: this is not a diss on Quality Peoples (QP). Understanding the paradox highlights their genius. There are two establishing facts. First, QP have a great product — good quality garments that stitch somewhere between elegant simplicity and an undone dynamism. Second, starting a fashion brand on your own dime is tough so to make financial sense founders Ed Fladung and John Esguerra need to sell at a higher price-point than you’ll find in traditional surf shops. The result? A collection that looks like it belongs to the beach but sold in designer menswear boutiques. In the case of QP this is turning out to be a winning formula.
Why does it work so well? Because QP have worked at their brand, and worked hard. They give us poetry, short films, stunning photography and an Instagram feed that makes us want to book a one way ticket to Oahu. They pitch to their market with pin-point precision, promising homages “to a simpler time, a reaction to the noise and clutter of modern life, a chance to be free” and “a common desire to be in the moment, slow down and create a centered life”. So that while no shirt on Earth can compare to feeling the sun and sea beating down on your shoulders… QP make us feel that their tees comes close.
Quality Peoples started in 2010 as an art collaboration between Ed Fladung and John Esguerra. While living in completely different places (Flaung lives in Nayarit, Mexico, Esguerra lives in Haleiwa, Oahu) they managed to create a brand and collaborate with talented people over internet. After 4 years of being in the market and learning through trial and error, this young brand has developed a distinct and successful style of their own. As described in their brand motto, their inspiration comes from contemporary art, street culture, Mexican folklore, Hawaiian surf history.
All images © Quality Peoples