Ocean Pacific was founded in 1972 by Jim Jenks, a San Diego-based surfboard maker and former sportswear rep.
He had developed the logo in 1969 for a surfboard line, but found much greater success with surfwear, OP’s corduroy “walkshorts” becoming an immediate hit with surfers and, in short order, boys and men everywhere (the high-waisted style was popularized by Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I.).
OP’s graphic apparel from the brand’s heyday dramatically illustrates the shifting visual aesthetic of the era, from the earth tones and primary color stripes of the late ’70s to the bright neon and jittery geometric shapes of the ’80s.
The change is reflective of both the second surfing boom (several more brands, including Gotcha and Maui and Sons, made waves) and the commercialization of a previously esoteric pursuit—which, of course, had been invented by the Polynesians long before European colonization and the arrival of wealthy Americans at Waikiki in the early 20th Century.
During the ’80s, image and wealth dominated: one’s association with a given subculture, no matter how “underground,” came to depend less on participation in that subculture and more on one’s ability to pay for merchandise that advertised one’s desire to be identified with that subculture.
Skateboarding and punk were the victims of the same process of cannibalization, whereby corporations gobbled up jealously communal rites and spit them out as global commodities.