Christian Fletcher is the definition of counter-culture. He’s a tattooed surf rock punk who broke the rules and shattered the status-quo. In the late 1980’s he was one of the first to take surfing above-the-lip and was even quoted in the surf video “Wave warriors” as saying “I’m trying to ride my skateboard on the water.”
The connection between surf and skate is not a new concept. But the absolute disregard for the then-blossoming neon, clean-cut 1980s surf culture was seen as a slap in the face by the surf industry.
They were trying to establish the respectability of a new professional sport. A new World Tour with events year round, and a World Champion to be crowned, they needed their spokesmen to be sellable. They needed these athletes to fall in line, to brush their hair, to stay out of trouble.
They were fighting against the stereotypes of the reefer-smoking slacker and the non-corporate anti-establishment. Christian Fletcher would not fall in line. He was everything that the surf industry was fighting against in terms of public perception.
Christian was part of the Southern California rockabilly, surf punks with tattoos and a screw-you attitude. They didn’t care about points in a contest. They didn’t care about being World Champ. They were pushing the boundaries of what could be done on a surfboard.
As a result, Fletcher was practically un-sponsorable by the corporate surf world. He could never be the face of Billabong, or Quiksilver, or any of the big brands competing for attention (and the dollars) of the newly reawakened surf-conciousness in America.
But what happened in the 90s was something that made surfers like Christian a huge commodity. The advent of the “soul surfer” – the non-competitive surfer who wasn’t on the world tour, but was still so good, that other surfers admired and respected their talents, and more importantly for the brands – the surf media LOVED them!
Exposure for the brands meant dollar bills. But the out-of-water activities of guys like Fletcher made sponsoring them a tricky deal. No big brand wanted to be associated with the mischief and misbehavior of an athlete who just didn’t care about public relations.
Enter into the scene – The underground surf label. Surf brands who not only didn’t care about the lack of clean cut, TV-ready athletes on their team, they encouraged and built a brand around the hardcore, anti-establishment culture. Brands like MCD – More Core Division. Brands like Counter-Culture.
And later, brands like RVCA.
Christian Fletcher is now a team rider and brand ambassador for RVCA. And they’ve even released a throwback signature line of clothing featuring Fletcher’s old “Christian Fletcher Surfboards” logo.
As a surfer, and a fan of Fletcher’s, when I saw RVCA had released this line, I couldn’t get my credit card out fast enough to place an order.
That logo means something to me. That logo represents something to me. It rekindles those teenage feelings of a young wannabe surfer boy trying to find his way in the world, and connecting with the brash, in-your-face, I-just-don’t-care-what-you-think-of-me attitude that guys like Christian Fletcher embodied.