OCEANSIDE — Gen X, Y and Z’ers are redefining “cool” with longboards and fashions reflecting their parents’ and grandparents’ culture during the endless summers of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Professional longboarder Mitch Abshere first created Captain Fin Company, a line of “artsy” fins that appealed to the underground market before going mainstream. Eventually, he expanded his product line to include wetsuits and formed the Captain Fin Surf Team. Today, each member of the team creates a signature fin for the company.
Abshere followed his success two years ago by opening Captains Helm, a retail store offering “vintage inspired” longboards designed by Donald Takayama, Chris Christenson, Jeff McCallum and Mason Dyer as well as new and vintage clothing.
“A lot of people feel there is nothing really super exciting out there,” explained Dyer who manages both ventures. “Our products are unique.”
Tara Tauriainen is the buyer and retail manager. She says Captains Helm’s clientele runs between the ages of 15 and 35.
“Young people are looking for the one-of-a-kind thing they can find in vintage, but they’re mixing it with modern like vintage sundresses with modern sandals,” she said.
Tauriainen said business is good, despite the recession, because the store buys, sells and trades.
“It gives people a way to make money and be able to buy something new and unique,” she said.
New retail lines include Sugar Ship swimsuits, Insight trunks, and Converse and ZigZag shoes.
Two trendy Oceanside companies are also represented. Brixton Manufacturing produces fedoras and Greek fishman and newsboy hats as well as T-shirts, henleys and button-up dress shirts.
Loser Machine manufactures helmets, apparel and accessories for the vintage motorcycle culture.
The store also carries their trademark Captains Helm and Captain Fin T-shirts.
“Ninety percent of our jewelry is made by local artists,” Tauriainen said. “We have bracelets, feather earrings and necklaces made with old hinges, keys, locker tags and pocket watch winders.”
In addition, Captains Helm stocks classic, pre-owned t-shirts from Ocean Pacific and Harley Davidson.
“One thing that’s popular are vintage, high-waisted Levi’s shorts,” Tauriainen said.
Sundresses, kids clothing, candles and a rich collection of vinyl records that includes surf music has found a new, younger market.
“What it comes down to is that everything we like, we put into the store,” Tauriainen said, smiling.
Captains Helm has a second store in Costa Mesa, and a third that opened in Tokyo last spring.
“It was supposed to open the Friday after the tsunami, but was postponed a month,” Dyer explained, adding that surfing in Japan has been impacted by the earthquake because the best waves are in the north, near the nuclear power plant that has been releasing radioactive water into the sea.
“The good thing is that our shop is in Tokyo,” he said.
Captain Fin Company produced T-shirts to raise money to benefit survivors of the disaster. Three designs are available in the store and online at captainfincompany.com. The $20 price goes directly to relief efforts.
Captains Helm is located at 1832 S. Coast Highway 101. Their hours are seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit captainshelm.com or call (760) 721-1004.