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Behind The Curtain At Afends

Behind The Curtain At Afends

The man at the top, Jono Salfield was recently interviewed by magic seaweed about all things Afends. We will let him tell the story as told to Magic Seaweed. All words by Magic Seaweed and images by 

Kuni Takanami.

You know the brands, but what do you really know about those brands? The Makers & Shakers series is your vehicle to discovering more.

First in line for closer inspection is Afends, the hipster, surf-core label from Byron Bay with an eager eye for alternative style and sustainability. We pinned down Jono Sailfield, one of the brand's original founders, to put his brainchild under the magnifying glass and to find out what's brewing this side of the horizon.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you come from and what's your background?
I recently turned 33 and was one of the founders of Afends which we started in 2006. Before Afends I was spending some time in Newquay surfing some of the BPSA competitions and just generally cruising in England.

Afends has been a huge learning curve and in the 8 years of running the brand I feel I've learnt so much. Our warehouse is literally 300 meters from the sand in Byron Bay so surfing is a huge part of my life and I enjoy pushing our surf team to make the best free surfing clips they can and get a buzz out of all the travel and hanging out with my beautiful fiancé. Life is good in Afends country.

Describe your current role within the business.
I've recently taken over the global marketing roll for Afends, which on a day to day basis can be super diverse. I might be on a photoshoot with our in-house photographer Sam Nolan, or deep in a spreadsheet working on where to spend the dollars for a marketing campaign. At the moment a big focus is on hemp, as we're making a big push to be more sustainable, so I've been getting super immersed in researching the super plant and how to make the best pair of surfing boardshorts out of the most sustainable material on the market.

To be a designer one needs to be passionate about clothing and, more specifically, about style, what would you say is your hallmark?
Our Afends Flame logo. It represents the spark in people for inspiration to travel, love and live life to the fullest. Our products and design represent the culture we live and breathe in Byron Bay. A lot of our designs have a grungy edge which we voice from our 
Question Everything campaign. Meaning for people to not just believe what they're told but to research the answers for themselves.

Where do you go for inspiration?
Our design team has recently been to Paris for their research trip, before then it was New York and LA. But a lot of our inspiration comes from our backyard. As Byron Bay is so transient with tourism, there's a lot of culture from overseas, so a lot of the time we get a good idea of the direction we want the brand to point in.

Who do you look to outside of the industry?
We've been looking at various companies and industries outside of surfing, one of which is Industry Of All Nations. Their brand is about supporting local industry and using organic or sustainable materials to make threads. I really feel that the surf industry is going to change in a big way over the next few years to be more sustainable. However we're still pondering why hemp is a product that loses out to organic cotton. Hemp is far better for our planet than any organic cotton product could ever be.

Can you tell us a little about your latest campaign, where the idea came from and why it is important?
Our latest campaign is a 20min documentary about hemp. This will come out in September so I can't give too much away at this point. There will be interviews with legend David Rastovich, Xavier Rudd and Phil Warner (hemp president of Australia). The campaign isn't just for promoting our boardshorts that are 100% hemp fabric, but also to show the world that Afends is trying to be more sustainable. For a small brand it's hard to compete against the major players in our industry producing such large quantities of clothing, but little by little I hope that this up and coming campaign will help steer a few more companies and people to support hemp made products.

So hemp's really floating your fabric boat at the moment?
Yeah we're flying the flag high for hemp! It used to be totally everywhere. It was used to make rope and sails, in fact, the word ‘canvas’ is rooted in ‘cannabis.’ And that’s not all, Alice in Wonderland was originally printed on hemp paper and the original Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp.

Tell us what is going to dance off the shelves in 2015?
There should be many different products making some moves, but I hope more people start to support hemp made products. Especially our boardshort – as hemp is a natural fibre it won't rash and go smelly when you leave them in the back of your car.

What's your iconic product? One that will always be on your product list.
Afends black “Baywatch” Short. It's a shorter swim short that's worn in and out of the water. In hot climates it's perfect. Afends was on the forefront of when shorter shorts came back in and since then it's been a staple in our product line.

Do you feel that surf brands are now entering a more reflective period after years of chasing massive growth?
Possibly, I feel surf in general is becoming more and more mainstream as a whole. Long gone are the days of surfers being labeled as rebels, nowadays surfers are considered professional athletes and are drug tested etc for the WSL. Major surf brands have hit a bit of a flat spot in massive growth, but will have to increase as there are more and more surfers and people interested in surfing every day.

Authenticity matters in core-surf. But looking at someone like Hollister for example, do you think most of the surf market connects with a brand’s identity or just with a design?
I think the majority of the market still connects with a brand in the independent surf world. However, when you step into the commercial world, you can buy the same style of product from a number of different major fast fashion retailers or even department stores, so that comes down to price point and if the product is on trend. I was actually talking to the other founder of Afends, Declan Wise about if there'll ever be another brand like ours, started with no money or experience. It seems that the new brands on the market are started by experienced people from the industry that have a lot of money to throw at it.

How would you describe the state of the surf fashion right now?
Surf fashion to be honest is still pretty boring. It's hard to find a non-stretch pair of boardshorts on the wall of a surf store or a logo tee that we've all seen for the last 20 years. I think surf fashion will change to becoming more sustainable, but right now it's still quiet boring as far as fashion goes.


What's your most frequent topic of conversation in the office? And do you all surf?
Our office is mad to say the least. It's high energy. Our team are running around talking about anything from what the surf was like in the morning to what they're doing at the weekend. Everyone in the office surfs so yeah a lot of surf talk.

Is there anything else you'd like to make a point of talking about?
I think we should all make a point of being jealous of what's about to go down with the waves at Fiji this week. It's going to be good watching that's for sure.

Dive deeper into the world of Afends HERE.
Check out the Afends range at the MSW store HERE.

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