When I first heard Austyn Gillette’s new clothing company, Former, I was skeptical of a skate team mixed with a surf team. I mean other companies that have skate and surf teams like Quiksilver and RVCA aren’t exactly what most people consider to be relevant, cool, or, well… skateboarding. They’re ran by large companies that feel more connected with Pacsun than they are with the actual skate community’s interests.
However, Austyn reassures us that Former is everything that those companies are not. It’s ran by sufers Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson and himself with only 3 other friends. Rather than a company with two different teams, Former consists of a few regular dudes that just happen to be really good at what they do and use cheap wholesale toilet paper like most of us.
The url for your brand is Former.XXX. Are you planning to make brand porn too?
[laughs] We actually had to go through this really strenuous process to get that URL and prove we’re not some sort of black market, underground, finger-your-child website. That took a long time but luckily we got it. We didn’t want to compromise with anything else.
What do you think about the other clothing brands in skateboarding. Are there any that stand out to you?
No, absolutely not.
Like we have brands like Asphalt Yacht Club…
Yeah, they went into it with the wrong intention. Nothing against them, but those dudes went straight to the malls and it sucks. Maybe something cool could’ve happened if they reeled it in a little bit and allowed themselves to grow. If you skip growth, there’s no sustainability in that.
Because there’s no brand backbone, or what?
Yeah, not at all. It’ll quickly expose the truth of what they’re going for. A lot of fucking companies just copy and paste shit and sell shit and it’s so silly. There is nothing original.
A lot of brands just get images from Google, put them on a Hanes T-shirt.
It’s all so temporary, and they compromise with the quality. It’s nice to be behind something where you can wear the shirt and it feels even better than what you paid for it. I’d buy a $150 thermal if I really liked it. It’s something to be proud of, to be behind something where you know the quality is that good.
Was Dylan [Rieder] involved with Former? Did his passing affect the release of your brand?
Yeah. I’ll start from the beginning. Dylan, Dane, Craig and I were talking about it for like three years. It stemmed from a email and trip with Monster Children called “Team Average“.
At that point Dane had just quit Quicksilver and Craig was still on, but Dylan and I didn’t have a clothing sponsor for so long. Dylan was the first one to notice it, like if we got enough of our own money together, we can make some T-shirts or something. It wasn’t a big idea. It was just like, “Lets make something cool, you guys are all interested and we’ve all got similar taste.” Dylan and I were the skaters on it.
We were all very hands on with the design of everything. During that time it was hard because Dylan was in and out of the hospital. Certain days he didn’t have enough energy to work on the line, so we’d just be tip toeing with what’s in his best interest. Then he went into remission and he was back on it and was able to help with the first and second line.
I think his jacket is the only product with any of our names on it. We tried to keep our names away from everything in the brand. Had Dylan not passed, his jacket wouldn’t have been named after him. He’d come up with some name that he would have liked.
Why aren’t you into naming a style or piece of clothing after someone’s name?
We’re trying to create this community, we’re all into everything that we’re presenting, so why would we have a product named after someone and push someone to the forefront? Nobody is getting pushed to the forefront, and that’s cool. It took a long time to figure out how we were going to do that.
Obviously with Dylan it’s because of him having so much say in the jacket he made, and all the proceeds going to the City of Hope [the hospital he was in] and the doctor and everything. It’s a weird thing because he’s our friend, and we’re not trying to exploit him. We just want him to be a part if it. A lot of motherfuckers are using his name and image right now, and it’s pretty annoying what people are doing. They’re trying to be like, “I was trying to be a better friends to him and here’s my photo.” It’s a weird thing and time for that.
How hands on was Dylan with this whole first line?
We were bringing him samples in the hospital, we were driving to his house, we were Skyping nonstop. He’d go into his closet walking on a fucking cane with a fucking tube attached to his stomach just to make sure his jacket was fucking perfect. I have screenshots on my phone, that I would never show anybody, but they’re of him just struggling with life, basically dying, but caring. Clothing was so important to him. Aside from his skating, his style was one of the biggest impacts he had on people. As far as hands on went, we were lucky enough to get his opinion on the first two ranges. He definitely had the talent for that.
For the next stuff we’re trying to figure out something that would be in his best interest but not make it commercial. That’s our best friend. To everyone in the company, that’s our best friend.
What are some differences between skaters and surfers you’ve noticed?
The one thing that I noticed that’s different is that these guys have to chase swells around the world. So Dane [Reynolds] or Craig [Anderson] at any point, if there’s a wave in Fiji or something rumbling there in five days, then they buy their ticket and they fly out six hours later. They spend triple on their ticket just to get to the wave because it’s a limited time offer. Unlike us, where trips are planned like maybe a week out, and that’s cutting it. They’re prepared to get on a plane or whatever it takes. They’ll drive all day just to find a wave, which is what we do to find a spot, which makes it similar as well.
Who do you think gets more chicks, skaters or surfers? And not just talking pros.
I know one surfer kid that absolutely murders it. I think it’s because he surfs and he uses that to his advantage. I would say skaters though. We’re not as shy. We’re buttheads. We just throw a lot of shit at the walls and once 2:15am comes around, maybe it sticks, if that’s what you’re doing. But I don’t really like that one, like waiting around for someone. I’d rather just hang out with someone that’s good company, but the bar thing works.
You ever get chicks by showing off that you’re a pro skater?
I’ve never really used that for my benefit. I try to use my stupid face and mouth.
Chaz Ortiz said his move is..
Chaz Ortiz, from Chicago…
Never heard of him.
[Laughs] He showed me a move where he talks to a girl and says “Let’s keep in touch, I’ll add you on Instagram,” and of course they flip out when they see he has 100 million followers.
Well, at that point you’ll have to question that man’s game. I just called him a man… I don’t know if he is yet.
I think he’s a couple years younger than you.
Yeah, he’s an adult. He probably pays more taxes than we do.
I heard that there are very few surf companies run by surfers. Is that true?
None, none of them.
How does that make sense?
It’s a different cliquey environment than skating. If you do something just a little bit off and the community turns its back on you, you can’t fucking surf at certain places. It’s a weird thing. Mainly because it’s an ego thing, like using your name to make money or start a brand, even though there’s these guys that ride for Rusty and Billabong. People think it’s really cheesy and lame using your name, and it’s frowned upon in surfing.
It’s crazy because most skate companies are run by skaters…
Yeah, fully. Starting clothing is a whole fucking other world though. It takes so long. To start a board company, you can contact PS Stix and you and I could start a new company called Toilet Paper tomorrow.
Made from real toilet paper, too!
Exactly. I actually just finished taking a shit.
What toilet paper you using? The real soft stuff, or the 99 cent shit?
I think I’m on some fucking peasant shit.
You gotta upgrade, getting gashes in your ass isn’t worth it.
Yeah, is that what it is? Cause there’s a burn and there seems to be no release.
In Brooklyn you can either get 4 rolls for $1, or you can spend $1 on a single fancy roll. I bought the fancy roll this morning.
[In a spanish accent] “Oh come to the bodega, get da cheeseburga with the toilet paper.” We have Costco out here, but actually my roommate does the shopping because he has the card. I don’t know, it’s not good though.
So you buy the 48 pack?
Oh fully, that whole thing, it’s quantity not quality.
Have you used a bidet when you travel?
I never have. I’ve turned it on to look at it and I just don’t know about it. It’s a weird concept, but it’s just as weird as just paper cleaning up shit. Like, if someone shits on your floor, you pick it up with paper? That’s kind of weird, but just like the water splashing shit everywhere doesn’t sound much better.
What’s with the luxury29.99 written everywhere and why is it Former’s Instagram handle?
I can tell you that it’s not this big conceptual idea. It’s really just a joke. It’s the name of our first range. Just [making fun of] people selling shit like $120 shit painted T-shirts, and being able to buy luxury for a fair price, you know, like old informercials with the $19.99 kind of thing. It fits somewhere with that and how cheesy and good that is.
I heard that you’re going to do a video part for every new drop, is that true?
We might being doing that, yeah. There’s a part in the works, I’ll say that.
I also heard there might be another Anderson on your team soon?
Yup, there is truth to that. I want it to be known that we’re trying to involve everyone and not be so nichey in this nichey and elitist world. We’d like everyone to feel a part of it. Hopefully there is something for everyone.
So your team is going to add more people than just surfers and skaters?
We want scoot… nah, I’m kidding. What I mean is, there are a lot of things going around right now where people can’t really relate. Our goal is to provide a home for everyone, where they don’t have to be cool enough to wear it and if you skate and surf, we want everyone to be a part of it.
So it’s not like you need to be the insider dude or “cool guy” at the skate shop to wear it?
Not at all, nothing like that. We’re not trying to make people feel inferior. That’s not the goal. We’re just a bunch of silly motherfuckers doing whatever we want.