How a signature product changed the category
My first tug on the amazingly stretchable the Hurley Phantom boardshorts was at the Sundance Film Festival this year. My friend and Fred Segal Fun owner, Jackie Brander, always assembles the best and coolest brands for her celebrity SWAG house, and I was able to do a few laps, see what people were oogling and pick up a pair of classic K-Swiss sneakers with my pal and Lionsgate Vice Chairman, Michael Burns.
The Hurley gear was in high demand and their “one and only” T-shirt had the celebs lined up. On the rack was a pair of the Phantom 120 boardshorts, which had blown out of the SWAG house in a matter of hours. Having grown up in Red Hang Tens in my youth and then on to Katins and Birdwell Beach Britches, I have had my share of trunks—and rashes. What’s amazing about Hurley’s Phantoms is the amazing stretch, and seamless construction. Why no one had developed a super comfortable, really stretchy short before seems crazy, but Hurley has nailed it.
The Phantoms have lit up the category and while the top of the line 120’s (for 120% stretch) retail for nearly $100, they’re still blowing out of surf shops—globally. You can still find them online at Hurley and Zappos. Forget about needing multiple boardies, all you need are Phantoms. Hurley also makes the Phantom 60 (you guessed it, 60% stretch) that are about half the price of the 120’s. I have them both, and even the Phantom 60’s are better than anything that has come before. Even my once favorite Patagonia boardshorts have been relegated to the bottom of the drawer, as the Phantoms are all I wear for volleyball, surfing and yoga. My 6 man volleyball team, Neptune’s Hecklers, will be outfitted in black Phantom 60’s at this year’s Manhattan Open Six Man Tournament (August 1-2) on the south side of the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Before Hurley was acquired by Nike a few years ago, surf industry pundits were quick to point out that “size was the enemy of cool,” and that the marriage of these two companies would never work. But, many of us hoped that Nike technology would find it’s way into Hurley’s brand sensibility. Hurley’s strong vision is overseen by Hurley’s brand leader and visionary, Paul Gomez. The Phantoms seem to be the perfect blending of the two cultures.
I was lucky enough to get to chat with Hurley Founder/CEO Bob Hurley and Paul Gomez last week, and, after catching up, we quickly got around to talking about the Phantoms. I told them that in watching what’s happening on the beaches I’ve been to in the last 6 months, that the Phantoms have become to surf culture what Under Armour, pre-IPO/still underground, was to bat and ball sports. At that time, Under Armour was what standout ballers and football players brought home from college tryouts and pro combines. Hard to believe now, but Under Armour was like the “impossible to come by” newest Nikes and Adidas that were provided at summer development leagues, and was only available online through their site or at legit gyms like The Yard in Hermosa Beach. On the beach, Phantoms are what everyone wants, what the hottest groms and even older rippers are wearing.
If Prada made a technical boardshort this would be it.
Suffice it say, you definitely need some.