Surely for New Yorkers there's at least one home-grown surf/swim brand that comes to mind. (Hint: Pilgrim and Saturdays.) For those in coastal California, perhaps that's Outerknown or Mollusk. For surfers in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast of Australia, Rhythm rings a bell — but the nearly 20-year-old brand is much more than a boardshort shop on the beach.
Since its inception in 2003 by Jamal Gray and prolific shaper/surfer Neal Purchase Jr., Rhythm has expanded into over 500 retail locations in Australia, the U.S., Canada and Europe, opened two brick-and-mortars of their own in Broad Beach and Burleigh Heads, and enlisted a roster of surfers, longboarders, musicians and more as "advocates" for the brand. This list alone is impressive. But more so has been Rhythm's consistent quality, eye for what's in, and commitment to bettering their manufacturing processes.
Rhythm's sustainability pledge includes plans for "expanding the use of Econyl and Repreve in our Swimwear collections, moving towards using organic cotton or natural fibres for all of our t-shirts, and using recycled polyester for our Beach Shorts and Trunks."
But all of these endeavors aren't coming at the cost of the consumer – or the quality of the products on offer. (People seem to have this preconceived notion that conscious clothing can't possibly be as good. News flash: it usually is!) Rhythm balances aesthetics and affordability, resulting in clothes consumers want to wear at prices they can understand. Instead of $150+ sweatshirts and shirts, Rhythm's run for around $70; T-shirts go for between $27 and $36; shorts exactly $50; polos (long- or short-sleeve) either $40 or $50.
Beyond their Beach Shorts (35-percent recycled polyester, 38-percent polyester, 21-percent cotton, 6-percent spandex), which can be worn in our out of water, few of their core products are made from materials other than 100-percent cotton. (There is the occasional cotton terry or linen-cotton blend, however.) Their Linen Jam shorts are popular, sit at just the right spot on your thigh, and wear better as they're broken in. Other items seem like they've been through it even before the first wear. But, that's part of the look: sun-faded, sand- and salt-blasted.
Rhythm's successes, though, aren't simply a result of consumers in landlocked locales copying surf styles. They're the result of the company's dedication to surf, surfers and the industry's subsidiaries: music, craft and alternative culture.
"In a time when heritage is dreamt up in marketing think tanks, and rich guys fabricate brands to milk the teat of a sudden detour of surf culture, it’s refreshing that a gaggle of gents from the Gold Coast are carving out a little slice of the surf retail pie for themselves. Authenticity still, thankfully, is the last of the ingredients of success that can’t be backdated," surf oracle Stab Magazine wrote about Rhythm back in 2016.
And now, in 2021, there's no sign of the brand "selling out." In fact, those behind it are hitting their stride (again), and every collection has standout pieces aplenty. And although the company's surf clips have more snippets dedicated to showing off new releases — watch their newest one, Dune Dogs, here — the bulk of each remains dedicated to surfers dueling daunting waves.