Alexander Wang X Haydenshapes | My Interview with the Founder

Alexander Wang has a way of making things known. Firstly, his cool, off-duty pieces. Secondly, his four year old niece (especially when she wears her
 ‘parental advisory’ t-shirt). And more recently, Haydenshapes Surfboards. Haydenshapes is a brand thanks to a failed attempt at ‘surfer chick’, I definitely would 
still be oblivious to if it weren’t for AW. Being slightly more versed when it comes to fashion, it’s in my interest when the two worlds cross. As the saying goes,
 often the best things are unexpected. The collaboration is no different. Above, is the latest Summer Cage installation in Alexander Wang’s Soho Flagship store. 
Below, my interview with the founder of Haydenshapes, Hayden Cox. Surprisingly, one of the most inspiring and relevant ever on Currently Loving. 
(Hint: Uni isn’t the path for everyone, and sometimes it’s worth proving wrong those who think otherwise.) Take a read.

How did Haydenshapes Surfboards begin?

When I was around 15 years old, I traded in my school holidays for work experience at a local surfboard factory – sweeping, taking out the trash etc. On the
 last day the factory owner realised I was there on my own accord and not through a school program, so he took a little pity and showed me the very basics 
of shaping a surfboard. He let me shape one side of the board on my own and it was pretty terrible. I kept at it though and eventually started building boards 
for friends and teachers and school. Everyone seemed to like them so I decided to start my business. 
Where does your passion for surfboards comes from?
I’ve always loved design. I started surfing when I was 4 and surfboards were always really interesting to me. It’s creative, mathematical and functional and connects
 me to the ocean which is my favourite place. My parents were very big on camping trips by the beach when we were younger and that is where I learned to surf. 
Although I didn’t grow up on the beach, I made sure that I found a way to a beach every day after-school and most days before school. There was a bit of an 
expectation that all of the kids in our family would go to uni, get a degree etc. I tried it for a short while and quickly realised that all I wanted to do was build
 surfboards and continue with Haydenshapes. I was determined to make it work.  

What is the main idea behind Haydenshapes Surfboards?

I would describe Haydenshapes as a modern high performance surfboard brand. My whole shaping philosophy centres around creating surfboards that are 
ridden and loved by the most elite level of surfer, but also the everyday surfer. Aesthetically, I like to have a unique style, look and feel to the product also. 
I get influence from a lot of different areas – fashion, naval architecture, art. I often look beyond the surf world for different ideas. In saying that, first and 

foremost a lot of my designs are influenced by my team of pro-surfers. Craig Anderson is probably one of the most influential free surfers of today and has 
such a laid back and unique style about him. He was the muse behind the Hypto Krypto which is currently a global best seller. 

How does your interest in design impact what you create?

Designing surfboards is pretty artistic in a way because it’s basically creating a functional sculpture. Although the foam can be designed using computer software 
and be machine cut, the rest is all done by hand via around 12 or so different processes. You have to be interested in not only the aesthetics, but also the maths 
behind it as something as simple as 1mm in width/thickness can make a huge difference in how it performs as a product. 

What does a typical day look like for you?
 Im pretty involved across the all facets of the business – accounting, operations, marketing, product development etc. I usually wake up early, surf and head 
straight to our offices/manufacturing facility in El Segundo, California, which is around 15 minutes from where I live in Venice beach. I’ll normally jump in the 
shaping bay and work on boards for our team of pro surfers for a few hours which is a huge part of my role. I’ll then catch up with the sales team and get updates
 from the rest of the departments and jam through a whole heap of emails. Australia then kicks off at 4pm (LA time) and I catch up with the Haydenshapes team
 over there and respond to emails. There is a lot more desk work involved than people think.. I thought that by running a surfboard business, I’d get to surf
 all day “product testing”. Not true… 

How did the collaboration with Alexander Wang come about (pictured below)? 
We have been in talks with them for quite a while now about creating something unique and exclusive for their Cage Installation in their flagship 
Alexander Wang store in NYC. We loved the idea of marble, and they went away and developed some pretty amazing prints that fit their overall brand 
aesthetic. The idea was that we create a high-end art piece that stayed true to the high performance element that Haydenshapes is known for. We wanted
 the partnership with them to be authentic. I think that both brands are progressive, unique and edgy in their own right. I’m very big on style and 
aesthetic with my product and Alexander Wang place a huge emphasis on the finer details which I think is really important. 

Would you say the collaboration marks a peak for your success?

Alexander Wang is a brand that I really admire and working with them on this project was definitely a highlight for myself for sure. Ultimately, we are a 
surfboard brand and that’s the business we are in but working with a brand like Alexander Wang was an experience. Not only are they phenomenally
 successful around the world, but they are also super ahead of the curve and influential. I learnt a lot working with their team.  


Explain the design process for the Cage Installation. 

Alexander Wang liked the idea of incorporating the surfboards into their cage, so naturally the overall concept needed to have that beach element to it. 
We threw around the ideal of marble, black sand etc, and then the AW team came back with the monolithic sand sculpture wave with the suspended
 surfboards in 5 unique marble prints. 

What sort of message did you aim to get across?

The whole idea was really about creating something visually beautiful and unique without it being too serious. The video that we released to support the installation
 has a bit of a ‘Jaws’ vibe to it with a lot of strong and beautiful black and white imagery of water, sand, waves etc. It is suspenseful, but ironic at the same time. 

Do you have any projects that we should look out for in the future?

We always have a few cool projects on the go but you will have to wait and see 🙂 I enjoy crossing over into different areas like fashion, art etc and reaching
 new markets with the brand. I think its good to mix things up!

Finally.. if you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be?

Mentawais Islands in Indonesia. Best waves in the world.  


McKenzie xx

Image Credit: 2-5, 8

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