Okanui Provides Effortless Fashion

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Iconic surf clothing brand Okanui, born and bred on the Northern Beaches, is celebrating its 40th birthday this month. The delighted owners say the classic clothes have as much appeal today as they did when the brand began and there are exciting new plans in the pipeline. 

The classic hibiscus print board shorts against a navy-blue background are still a favourite in the Okanui range. Co-owner Simon Kasprowicz says the four decades in business is really something to celebrate.

“Not many brands are still going after 40 years, I mean there’s Coca Cola and… not that many more, so I think it’s a real achievement,” he enthuses.

Simon took over the Brookvale company with wife Wendy from her uncle and the founder of Okanui, Dick Ash, about six years ago. “Wendy had always wanted to be involved in the business and it was like a dream come true for her,” explains Simon.

The couple, who have three children and are based in Allambie, are injecting new life into the brand that first flourished in the 1980s. Founder Dick Ash was just 15 when he created his first pair of cotton board shorts using his mum’s sewing machine and some old canvas mailbags from the Avalon post office. The shorts were cut long, especially suited for sitting on the new-style Okanui surfboards that were popular in Oz.

His surfing mates wanted some too and they were nicknamed Okanuis. In 1978 Dick decided to make his hobby a fully-fledged business and designed the distinctive hibiscus print, inspired by his love of the Pacific Islands, that remains the signature of the Okanui clothing brand today.

Available in stores throughout Australia and online, this family business is experiencing a resurgence with the reopening of its flagship store in Hastings Street, in Noosa, and plans to potentially extend into women’s clothing and homewares.

The business is still all about producing high quality, classic and comfortable clothing, perfect for the beach, boat or backyard. The range includes shirts and T-shirts, linen and kids’ shorts, made from the highest quality textiles, focused on ethical and sustainable manufacturing.

“We want to keep what was at the core of the product and still resonates with people. Some of the core products have never changed and there are not many brands that have successfully stayed the same for 40 years,” says Simon. 

Okanui is stocked in stores across Australia and is available online but Simon says it is an exclusive line and the idea is not to saturate the market. “We are working on some women’s products at the moment we want to get it right and my wife wants to introduce homeware products too,” he adds.

Okanui clothing is available on the Northern Beaches at Beach Without Sand Surf Shop in Avalon, Wicks Surf Shop in Collaroy, Newport Beach Menswear & Surfwear and Surfection in Mosman. They are looking for a store to stock in Manly. 

He’s hoping the much-loved surf brand will continue to thrive as new lines meld with the classic range and Okanui retains its elegant surf appeal.