A History of Heritage: Katin Surfwear

Katin, menswear

Imagine a couple of regular people, doing what they do best and it changing the course of history. Simple enough, right? But what if I told you that those two people so happened to be a middle aged couple, and what they changed was the face of surfing as we know it today. Yeah, thought so. Meet Nancy and Walter Katin. The creators of what you may know as the modern surf trunk. Katin surfwear

This is a story about heritage so, let’s bring this back about 60 something years, before the technical nylons, ripstop fabric; and fancy accoutrement made to keep you dry. It all started with a problem. In the late 50’s a man walked into the Katin shop in Surfside California. He couldn’t find anything to surf in. Conventional swim trunks were meant for 1 of two things, competitive diving and lounging by the water. No rigorous jumping in head first into a wave, on some makeshift wooden death contraption. Oh, yes, did I mention surfing, as a recognized sport, didn’t quite exist yet? So, what did Walter do? He got some boat covering and put his needle to work. The news of this spread like wildfire. So much so that it’s safe to say the modern surfing industry was born that very first day. It was also during this time that Walter passed away in 1967.

Fast forward about 20 something years and the full effect of surfing had taken off. Now, just as time would have it, Nancy’s health was slowly starting to dwindle, and ultimately, in 1986, she passed away. The business was continuing to grow at an exponential rate, and with no one else left at the helm, Nancy had left the business to her friend and seamstress Sato Hughes.

Quality, durability and good looks has long been the Katin motto and it’s our attention to detail which continues to separate Katin from the rest of the surfing pack.”

Today, Sato can still be found in the back room of the Surf Shop, hand sewing trunks for customers at the ready. As the company stands now, it has grown past anything imaginable to the Katins the first day that man walked into their store with a problem.

Katin surf , swim wear

With all that said, the tradition and love still lives in every pair of trunks, just as Creative Director Jason Rodriguez explained to us:

Katin Surfwear

 It didn’t dawn on me until after I took the job with Katin what I really had to work with…

The brand was in a position where I had the opportunity to apply and blend my vision with Katin’s heritage.

Katin is the original Americana California surf heritage Co. I have been here for five years and my research continues to this day. I love digging and prying through historical stories, facts and tidbits.

Through my research, I’ve built a connection with the Katin family and an understanding of who they were and what they stood for.

The more I find, the more fueled I gain to tell the story and honor it.



Neil Watson

Editor At Large