Predominately known for their surf gear and board shorts, Hurley—a company founded in 1979 in Costa Mesa—has had a huge hand in defining Southern California’s beach culture. These days it’s Ryan Hurley, son of the brand’s original founder, who acts as the company’s VP of design. In his role, he recently launched Phantom Protect, a line of outerwear inspired by all things water. With firsthand experience, the longtime surfer applied water-resistant technology to a new sub-line. First up is the Phantom Slicker, a hooded jacket that encompasses technical features like reflective detailing, three-layer waterproof, breathable fabric and a brushed tricot interior—built to withstand rough weather conditions. We caught up with Hurley so he could fill us in on why they equate the Phantom with innovation.
How did the idea come about to use the Phantom technology in another product outside of the board short?
Phantom is all about innovation, so when it comes to providing innovative solutions for outerwear, Phantom Protect is a natural extension. Outerwear born from water and inspired by search and rescue is a completely new space. When technology is born from water, as opposed to the land or the trail, it requires a different design approach and problem-solving method.
Were jackets and hoodies the first choice to expand the Phantom line? Can we expect to see any more product offerings down the road?
We have started a dimensional approach to Phantom innovation where it applies. Walkshorts and hybrids are a very natural fit as well for Phantom. Phantom Walkshorts are made from recycled four-way stretch material, water resistant and pocketed with mesh, so they’re completely submersible.
Why was it important for Hurley to patent the Phantom technology? How is it unique from other boardshorts and fabrics?
The industry is at its best when it’s innovating. Phantom innovation changed the game in boardshorts with a new approach (i.e. a second skin). At the time, things were overly embellished, rigid and heavy. We wanted something that was lighter, faster and more flexible—a realistic version of a second skin. Informed by our athletes, we developed a boardshort that was a water repellent, had unparalleled stretch durability and also provided a new approach to its construction. The first Phantom boardshort was lighter, faster and more flexible than anything else out there. Naturally, we want to protect our invention, so we patented it.
How does your experience as a surfer influence the design process?
Growing up surfing, I have a pretty good understanding of the elements and challenges that surfers face. Having experience in the water is helpful when working on athlete-informed innovations as we can relate on certain things. Research and development in the water isn’t the worst thing either.
Was the Phantom Protect line designed specifically for the surfer and outdoor athlete? How does it translate for city dwellers?
Traveling to varying climates 10 months out of the year, our surf athletes are a tremendous source of information when approaching outerwear. Our athletes played a major role in the design of Phantom Protect, so there are some specific things we addressed. However, there are very natural crossovers that happen into streetwear. The approach here is “born from water, inspired by search and rescue, innovation by Phantom.” I believe that truly great or authentic products transcend “demographics.” Whether you’re a city guy, a surf guy, both or neither, if you’re interested in good products, then you’ll appreciate Phantom Protect.
The slicker is really tricked out with a media pocket, reflective detailing, waterproofing and breathable layers. Can you describe the functionality?
The Phantom Protect Slicker is tough. It’s a three-layer waterproof, breathable slicker with a Cire Nylon Ripstop face for durability, a brushed tricot on the interior for comfort and a membrane sandwiched in the middle for waterproofing and breathability. Collectively, these provide the materials function of the Phantom Protect Slicker. Reflective detailing was inspired by search and rescue as a “low visibility” solution.