Interview: The Critical Slide Society | Freedom Sliders
Sometimes when brands start out small and niche then grow into something much larger, they can forget what they were meant to be in the first place. This is certainly not the case for Sydney-based clothing label, The Critical Slide Society (TCSS) though. What began in 2009 as a couple of surfers just making some t-shirts and boardies for themselves and friends in the back shed has become an award winning and internationally stocked brand.The surfers – and founders of TCSS – were two guys named Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes, mates from the Central Coast of NSW. Though the brand has moved on from the sewing machine in the back shed, they still retain that kind of casual approach to the way they work – keeping everything about the surf and its community.
TCSS’s latest collection is called Freedom Sliders and like their past ranges, it features the kind of t-shirts, boardies, jumpers and shirts that would feel at home worn on the sand, in the water, or sitting by a campfire in the bush with your mates and a beer. We recently caught up with Sam and asked him about the new collection as well as some of his favourite surf spots and just what it takes to be part of the TCSS crew.
What were your main inspirations for Freedom Sliders?
The aesthetic concept of Freedom Sliders came about with the idea of “Happy Military”, taking 70’s flower power vibes and mixing it with the military tones of the time. Underlying that is this notion of weekend escapism. Fellas in particular getting away on a Friday afternoon, escaping the city, hitting the road, living basic and doing what they love – in this case, surfing.What is the most important thing to you when creating a new collection?
Being true to our brand. At any time, there is an influx of trends and ideas we’re exposed to, from social media to blogs etc. It’s important to make sure we don’t get too influenced by all the noise.
What are your top 3 weekend getaway spots or favourite beaches?
Stanwell Park, Avoca Beach and Boomerang Beach (Boomers is a stretch for a weekend).You have a TCSS crew; what qualities do you look for in people when putting this group together?
They have some surfing prowess. Jerome who shortboards just got pipped for a spot in the Margaret River WSL event (2nd by a point in the final heat!) and Kai Ellice-Flint just got selected to surf in the Joel Tudor Duct Tape Classic, a hand picked group of the world’s best longboarders, so they tick the surf box. On top of that, most of the guys have another string or two to the bow. Eden Saul is one of the most respected shapers in the world at the moment, shaping under the brand Dead Kooks, and Thomas Bexon also on the team shapes under Thomas Surfboards, one of the most sought after Longboards in the world. It’s a really interesting group of people and we’re lucky to be surrounded by such talent.What’s your favourite piece from the new collection?
It’s all really good and wearable with stories for each piece. If I had to choose one, it’d be the Comrade Boardshort. Sure, we’re almost out of Boardshort wearing weather, but these things are epic. I love the print and love the fabric and the fit. I’ve lived in mine the last 2 months. They’re only going to get better with age too.
What are your top picks from your new collection for winter?
From Winter, the Wanderer Jacket is amazing. I think this thing will become a staple for a lot of guy’s wardrobes over the cooler months. It’s a 3 in 1. A shell, a quilted puffer jacket and a quilted bomber. The colour is awesome, with lots of hidden pockets and a great retail price. I honestly love it. The other thing that’s really exciting is our collab shoe with Dunlop Volley – the classic Aussie sand shoe. The feedback from this has been amazing – people are super stoked for it. It’s embossed suede, copper tipped eyelets, a gum sole and its ankle high. They’re also in super limited supply – there are only a few hundred of them in the world. I don’t yet have a pair – can’t wait to slap these on though.