We chat with the founder of Australian-made Haydenshapes about how his innovative approach to craftsmanship and humble success story has placed the luxury surfboard brand on the map.
“It all really started when I had broken my surfboard and didn’t have the money to replace it when I was 15,” says Hayden Cox. “On my school holidays I did voluntary work experience at a local factory in where I swept and tidied the bays. On the last day, the owner agreed to shape a board with me. My first board was pretty terrible, but I kept at it and eventually they got better and better. My first customers were teachers and friends from school who then began recommending their friends.”
Nothing sucks more than getting that magic board and knowing that once that boards breaks, you will never get that same board again. Our manufacturing model allows us to create the same product again and again.
At 20 Hayden decided to rent his first factory and 6 years later designed and patented his own surfboard technology: FutureFlex (a parabolic carbon fibre rail construction without the traditional wooden stringer through the centre) which is what today sets the brand apart in the market place. After signing a global distribution deal, the brand started to really take off, one of the global bestseller models being the Hypto Krypto (a one stop board, versatile enough for having fun in average conditions or taking to the barrel).
Hayden’s premium, unique design values have placed him at the forefront of modern surfboard construction. Designing bespoke marble boards for an Alexander Wang installation in both NYC & Tokyo stores and collaborating with NYC Artist, Jason Woodside and Audi are just some of the many projects on his portfolio. “My philosophy consists of function, performance and aesthetic,” he says. “I worked with a Naval Architect on adding a displacement hull to one of my models (Psychedelic Germ), similar to a yacht design. Aesthetically it makes the product unique, but functionally it enables the board to break up chop (like a boat would) and get the most out of smaller waves.”
Acne shirt and suit, Feit sneakers
Haydenshapes matte black custom made board
Just like a designer making a suit, shaping takes tremendous artistic ability. Hayden describes his approach to shaping as consistent and innovative. “I think it’s important to achieve as much consistency in the product as possible and be able to replicate your designs over and over again. Nothing sucks more than getting that magic board and knowing that once that boards breaks, you will never get that same board again. Our manufacturing model allows us to create the same product again and again.“
Learning to build boards the old school way (sculpting a block of foam) is no longer Mr Cox’s approach. Despite comments from the surfing community, he is very vocal about his stance on modern manufacturing and using the latest technology. “All of my boards are hand crafted, however I use modern design software and cutting machinery that is able to replicate the product shape within a tolerance of 0.2 -0.4 of a mm,” he says.
One of my main goals is to design surfboards that translate from the elite level surfer to the everyday surfer and create a product that’s versatile.
Among many fans, pro surfer, Craig Anderson has ridden Hayden’s boards for the last 12 years and Hayden describes him as his muse when it come to design and inspiration. “We actually ride the same sized boards, so when I create something he loves, which also feels great under my feet, I am able to find a good balance of ability levels that the model will ultimately suit. One of my main goals is to design surfboards that translate from the elite level surfer to the everyday surfer and create a product that’s versatile.“
So what can we expect to see next from Haydenshapes? “Our first Global Experience store is opening November in Mona Vale Sydney (where the brand started). We have integrated technology into the space in a way that hasn’t been done at retail yet and are really excited to be first to market. The ‘local’ ideology is such an integral part of the culture of surfing and we have injected our own modern twist on it. We’ve designed everything ourselves from the floors to the furniture and fixtures. We also have a really cool design collab launching with The Cool Hunter shortly…. Actually, there may be a clue in this feature with Oliver Grand!”
Photography: Trevor King
Words & Styling: Jesse Arifen