Google "Summer Teeth," and you're met with a splendid mixture of questionable slang and musical references. The fairly obscure saying, which could reference a snaggletooth grin, or more popularly Wilco's 1999 album, taken out of context could mean just about anything, or nothing at all. But that would be giving the matter way too much thought in the first place, which in the case of Dane Reynolds and his start-up brand Summer Teeth, is the complete opposite of what the pro surfer is trying to achieve.
We recently caught up with Reynolds to get a look inside the brand, how he views the design process, and the inspiration behind his video projects and the Summer Teeth/Marine Layer blog, and more.
How did Summer Teeth get its start?
Blair [Marlin, manager] came to me with the idea of starting a kitschy beach gear brand, like towels, umbrellas, and beach chairs and stuff, since that was sort of the only thing I could possibly do with my sponsorship obligations, and I was into it. So that’s where it sorta started.
Where does the name come from?
A lot of people ask me if it comes from the Wilco album, but it didn’t. I was aware of that album but more so I just liked the word summer and the word teeth, and that they don’t really go together but they sound good together and it kinda means messed up teeth… I dunno.
When did you start making apparel? Did that come first or did the blog content spark the creation of an apparel line?
The blog was first. A lot of the surfing I was doing around Ventura was turning up on the internet anyway, and mostly in bad context, bad music, and bad cuts that weren’t my style. I decided to beat them to it and put it on the internet in a style that I like. The brand was separate entirely, but I just combined them recently because I don’t have the mental capacity to operate them both separately.
What’s your inspiration behind the design? Do you do all the T-shirt and boardshort graphics?
I’ve just been learning a long the way. The kitschy beach gear thing kind of fell through because the minimums were so crazy, and I got the ok to do T-shirts and stuff from Quiksilver, so I just started designing T-shirts. It’s easy to be a critic, to walk in a store and go “I don’t like that, I don’t like that, I don’t like that, that’s ok, etc…” but I found that creating a good T-shirt is pretty tough. Especially a graphic tee. Everything I made seemed too messed up for the general guy that wants a T-shirt, either that or contrived, like, not myself. So it’s been a learning process, and I didn’t know any computer programs or anything in the beginning so i was just drawing in notebooks stuff that i thought was cool but now I’ve learned enough to get by and I pretty much just try to make stuff that I’d be psyched to wear. That I would buy if I went in a store.
How did the Captain Fin collab come about?
Blair [Marlin] introduced me to Mitch and we got along and talked about doing a fin together. I just thought it would be radder to do it through Summer Teeth. “Signature fin” sounds kinda lame to me, like if it had my name on it. So a Summer Teeth fin made sense, and we made a towel to go with it. I’d love to keep doing new designs with him.
A look at Reynolds’ designs:
Is the apparel just sold online or do you have it in retail shops as well? Which shops are carrying it?
We started just online at first, but after a year or so we got some interest from a few shops like Shaper Studios, Univ and Mollusk, so we went into those and a few other rad little shops who seemed stoked on the brand. We still do some releases that are limited edition small runs that just go online, but we’re starting to get some distribution going. Some of the other shops off hand I can think of that started to carry it are Huntington Surf and Sport, Jacks, Hanger 94, Captain’s Helm, Mitch’s, and Zumiez.
What’s Marine Layer?
Well when I first wanted to do the blog, first off, danereynolds.com sounds lame, and i had the intention of working with other people, getting other surfers on the site, so I wanted to call it something else. Marine layer, I dunno. I remember flying into San Diego from Mexico and looking out the window at the fog, and I was like ‘marine layer’ that’s a funny name. I kinda like it. And it stuck.
Will you continue to build on your video and photography content on the blog?
Oh yeah, the video stuff is what I thrive on. I feel like it’s one arc, from riding a wave to how it’s shown in a video. And I feel like that’s my creative outlet. Photography I don’t take too seriously but I like dogs, I’m cynical, and I’m a surf junkie and I like to take pictures of tourists and stuff like that because it’s funny. When I look at photos it triggers an emotional response, so I guess that’s my form of communication in a way. I just made a new section on the site called Reality Bites— that’s sorta like my dialogue.
Where do you think the brand fits in the overall surf market? What was your hope or initial goal in launching it?
I don’t really know how it fits in the surf market. My initial goal —I can’t even remember cause it was like four years ago, and I’ve changed so much since then. But I do remember Blair proposed it and I was excited for a new challenge and learning experience.
What’s your take on the surf market in general from the perspective of a professional athlete and now launching your own business?
Oh my goodness, I don’t know, I hear times are rough? Honestly, I surf, I put out web videos, I travel as much as I can and soak up everything I can, design T-shirts, ads, try to do trips with people I like, and beyond that I’m worthless. [Laughs] I designed the shirts but I don’t know how they sold. Surfing has stunted my growth, as far as responsibility and finances and that sort of stuff goes. So yeah, I don’t have much perspective on the state of the surf market. Maybe we’re on a kamikaze mission, who knows…