The Golden Breed Story
Golden Breed is now a fully owned Australian company.
In the beginning …
Golden Breed was founded on the sun drenched beaches of California. As the late afternoon sun set into the Pacific Ocean, the golden hues of light illuminated the tanned young boardriders into golden creatures … they became known as The Golden Breed! During the late 1960’s, Californian surf and beach culture was taking off fast and the Golden Breed brand with it . Golden Breed went on to become a major influencer in the global Surf, Skate and Motocross scenes.
John Arnold, a South Australian and Australia’s leading surf entrepreneur, came across the Golden Breed Brand on his travels and licensed the trademark for Australia. He then set up his iconic surf shop at 142 Gawler Place, Adelaide stocking all the latest Golden Breed gear. Wayne Lynch, another iconic surfer, spent plenty of time at Gawler Place shaping surfboards alongside John Arnold.
One of the very best surfers of that era Hawaiian Jeff Hakman signs on as the Golden Breed front man. The Golden Breed Hawaiian Expression Session series was launched with the best of the best surfers handpicked by Hakman. It was there on the North shore of Hawaii that the legend of the Good Karma Party was born.
Jeff Hakman was the man to beat through the 70’s. Taking out countless events such as the Duke in 70’ and 71’ along with the inaugural Pipe Master in 71’ just to name a few. After his time with the Golden Breed team Hakman went on to own the license for Quiksilver USA. Now to 2017 where he was inducted as the 2017 Surf Pioneer for his talents in the water and within business.
John Arnold lays the foundations of Golden Breed’s massively successful launch into the Australia retail landscape. No-one could imagine just how fast the Golden Breed brand would grow and John Arnold opened two large apparel factories in South Australia to keep pace with the demand.
During the glory years of the mid 1970’s Golden Breed was the power player across all the various spectrums of marketing. From the best team riders to the biggest events from billboard advertising to magazines and of course the presentation rights of every significant surf movie of the era.
Golden Breed signs up legendary Iron Man and Lifesaver Grant Kenny. The slogan should still stand … “I wear Golden Breed … or NO SHIRT AT ALL!”. Kenny made headlines in 1980, as a 16 year old, he won both the Australian Junior and Open Iron Man Championships on the same day! Kenny went on to dominate the Iron Man Series and became an Australian household name.
The Golden Breed brand and its various trademarks are purchased by Nick van de Merwe. Nick left High School in 1978 to become a global ski and surf bum but by 1984 his party was over and he joined Pacific Dunlop. After 15 wonderful years there ,working for brands like Holeproof and Everlast this rag trader decided it was time to go it alone. Nick as a teenager ended up in Bali 1975 where he bought his surfboard off none other than Hawaiian Randy Rarick.
During the early to mid-part of the new millennium Golden Breed signs up a bunch of the very best longboarders going around. Surfers to the likes of Ian Bell, Harley Ingelby, Ray Gleave and Dane Wilson just to name a few. These guys have filled up more than a few trophy cabinets over the years. Harley even went on to pick up his first world title in 2009.
Golden Breed’s commitment to longboarding events all over Australia sees their major involvement with just about every key event in the country. Golden Breed also becomes the longest continuous sponsor of Australia’s favourite surfing competition; The Noosa Festival of Surfing. With the Golden Breed Noserider Division being the major draw card.
In 2008 Golden Breed opened its first flagship retail store in beautiful Noosa Heads at 15 Noosa Drive. Only a short walk from the iconic right hand point break. This also marked the beginning of a totally new commercial direction for the company. Wholesale distribution was getting tighter and Golden Breed saw the writing on the wall that you needed to control your distribution by owning your shop front. Vertical retail was the way to go with a combination of select wholesale.
Golden Breed embarks further on its vertical retail strategy and whilst it opens various stores across the country perhaps the store that screams the DNA of the Golden Breed Brand the most was the Flagship store that opened in Byron in 2013 . Byron Bay Township had no shortage of surf shops but the Golden Breed store stood out with its 70’s style and this hip coastal internationally famous tourist town lapped it up. One famous local said, “finally a store opens up in Byron Bay that looks like it belongs in Byron Bay!” The colourfully striped painted wall at our Byron Bay store features the iconic Golden Breed colours, it has become one of the most photographed icons of Byron.
Gordon & Smith
In terms of legendary surf and skate trademarks they don’t come much better than G&S. Larry Gordon and Floyd Smith forged a close friendship in the mid 1950’s while surfing together. This led to the creation of a surfboard company which would become an iconic brand with worldwide recognition. In 1965 Floyd moved to Australia to start Gordon and Smith down under. When Floyd returned to the USA a few years later he sold the trademarks to Dave Wilson for Australia and New Zealand only. Dave Wilson and his family (including longboard gun Dane Wilson) were the successful custodians of the Gordon and Smith action down under for decades. Golden Breed made the acquisition in late 2015 after a long friendship with the Wilson family.
By around 2016 the Golden Breed Head Office moved to the Flinders surf shed site once home to the old Balin leg rope factory. It's from the second story loft office that all the creatives, design and HQ support to the bricks and mortar stores takes place. Upstairs is also home to the newly formed and burgeoning online store. Downstairs you’ll find the retail shop, again another walk back to the simpler times and oozes old school surf cool.
Golden Breed, as Australian owned surf company, is now pretty much a rare seagull, as full ownership of the modern day “big three” falls into the hands of various overseas interests. The Covid pandemic of 2020 has been a shocking development and a major setback for humanity across the globe. We remain optimistic, we live in compassion and hope of much better times ahead. STAY SAFE, keep smiling and of course keep SURFING :)