The clothing and accessories coming out of the action sports industry (think skate, snow, surf and motocross) are no longer just about hibiscus-printed halter tops, brightly colored board shorts and shapeless logo hoodies. Over the last few years, Southern California-based brands such as Roxy, Billabong, Fox Racing and Volcom have infused high style and trend-conscious fashion into their women's lines, creating fun, wearable and more age-versatile items that have a refreshingly low price tag.
Although these clothes still work for a casual Southern California lifestyle, design inspiration taken from the runways and streets of Europe and Japan give them a chic, city feel that can be mixed and matched with higher-end designer items.
"We haven't walked away from our core business," says Carrie Martines, design director at Volcom. "But we are translating trends and giving our customer the option to experiment more with fashion."
For fall, the overwhelming trend coming from the action sports market is a mix of '90s grunge and '50s biker cool. Tough biker-style jackets, shredded skinny jeans and black-and-white beatnik stripes are done in a deep color palette of gray, black and violet with splashes of bright blue and bold plaids.
Denim plays a major role in action sports lifestyle brands, and the design and fit follows what most premium lines are creating -- but with a price that remains below $100. Trendy details are also incorporated into denim. Studs line the shoulders of a sleeveless denim vest from Volcom, and a pair of stovepipe jeans from Element Edun have a graphic blue and white tie-dye finish. Hurley and Roxy focus on more feminine pieces with swingy, lightweight dresses in jewel tones and edgy, punky patterns.
While many of the clothes from these lines can skew a bit young, pluck out the more substantial pieces, such as sweaters, coats and jeans, and incorporate them into an existing wardrobe. With prices ranging from $24 to $75 for most items, shopping these brands is an affordable alternative to filling up on trendy togs from fast-fashion chains.
Action sports brands may be rooted in the gritty skate and surf scene of Southern California, but the mix of authentic beach and street style makes sense anywhere in the world.