Saturdays NYC. The name alone evokes the air of effortless cool for which the city is known. And appropriately so: Founded a decade ago, this “surf and lifestyle brand” is as effortlessly cool as they come. And did we happen to mention that it’s also taking over the world, literally, with retail stores popping up everywhere from Melbourne to Tokyo? Here’s a closer look at Saturdays NYC’s epic journey from simple surf shop to way of life.
An Epic Collaboration
“Saturdays showed up out of nowhere, a magpie line that gathered all the style touch points of the moment: the surf-culture explosion, the shrunk-in-the-wash fit favored by Band of Outsiders (R.I.P.), and the crisp graphic designs aimed at city kids partying on tiki-torched decks in Montauk and Malibu” raved GQ in including Saturdays NYC in its 10th anniversary roundup of “Best New Menswear Designers in America All-Stars.”
But Saturdays NYC, which initially went by the name Saturdays Surf NYC, did not, in fact, magically appear on the scene. Rather, the brand was the brainchild of co-founders Colin Tunstall, Josh Rosen and Morgan Collett, who conceptualized the company after lamenting the fact that while the city had a long history of surfing, there was a lack of authentic surf culture in the city. Said Collett, “We were all friends who spent a lot of time together and we just saw a void. When springtime comes in New York City, ‘surf culture’ is thrown out by a lot of different clothing companies. Stores will put up a surfboard in their window.”
Tunstall expressed a similar sentiment in a Freunde von Freunden (FvF) interview. “We felt like a proper surf shop and the lifestyle that we were living and working in the city and surfing was missing. My two business partners and myself were at a point in our careers where we wanted to do our own thing so we moved quickly and worked our asses off to make it happen,” he said.
“My two business partners and myself were at a point in our careers where we wanted to do our own thing so we moved quickly and worked our asses off to make it happen.”
Specifically, Saturday NYC’s “boys of summer” envisioned a place where they could hang out in akin to the experiences they’d had at West Coast surf shops. And so Saturdays NYC was born. (Of the name, Collett merely says, “We met out a name and Saturdays was the first that came up. The next day [graphic designer] Colin sent us a logo. It’s the same one we use today.”)
When Saturdays NYC opened its first shop in SoHo in 2009, Tunstall, Rosen and Collett were on a mission to become New York’s premier downtown surf shop with an inventory including everything from boards and wetsuits to lifestyle accessories like books and fine arts. The were also refreshingly hands-on: they served coffee and sold their tees themselves. Saturdays took off, and quickly became a gathering place for anyone searching for endless summer and/or looking to approximate its laid-back look. (It’s also attracted more than its fair share of celebs.)
And while the aesthetic may have appeared effortless, it was — and remains — anything but. From an espresso bar serving Saturday NYC’s own blend to it impossibly lush landscaping, sanctuary, every detail of every shop is carefully cultivated to capture the unique look and feel of a sanctuary from city life. Wrote Alex Delany earlier this summer for Bon Appétit, “The backyard at Saturdays is my one way ticket out of NYC’s gnarly summer heat. With a cold coffee in hand, it’s easy to forget I’m actually still in Soho.”
Riding the Wave
But the Saturday NYC team was not content to merely coast on its early success. In 2011, Tunstall told FvF of big plans for the future. “We have a ton of new things we’re working on. It’s really exciting to have the opportunity. We’re planning on opening a Tokyo store in March and hoping to have another store in Manhattan soon as well. We’re also adding more and more products. We’re really trying to fully encompass the lifestyle of our brand. Other media projects are in the works as well, to further help define who we are and share with our customers,” he said.
In addition to debuting its own menswear line known for its minimalist ethos and emphasis on craftsmanship, color, proportion and fit, Saturdays NYC also launched its own in-house magazine.
All that came to pass — and then some. In addition to debuting its own menswear line known for its minimalist ethos and emphasis on craftsmanship, color, proportion and fit, Saturdays NYC also launched its own in-house magazine. Tunstall told HYPEBEAST of the publication’s inception, “I come from an editorial background and worked as an art director for many years. Creating a magazine has been a dream of mine for years, and through Saturdays, the three of us were able to curate content that speaks to us, inspires us, and influences the way we think and view the world. We aspired to create something that would stand the tests of time, so we choose information and images that we believe will be as interesting five years from now as the day the magazine went to print.” The Saturdays NYC line and Saturdays NYC Magazine are uniquely symbiotic, together reinforcing and building upon the company’s brand identity.
Saturdays also expanded its retail store presence to Japan and Australia with a total of nine locations while collaborating with other artists and retailers, including Colette and Curtis Kulig. Still, wherever you are in the world, proposes GQ, “the shops feel like your most stylish buddy’s weekend home—that also happens to sell denim work shirts you can’t live without.”
Certainly, the brand has come a long way from its early days, but the progress has been the prize, according to its founders. When asked to name the most rewarding aspect of running Saturdays, Tunstall said, “It changes every day, but I would say it’s been the growth. From opening the doors and selling the first surfboard to seeing our first tee shirts on the streets and then on the stage at Madison Square Garden. Also our community. Getting to know so many people in our area. It’s a great feeling to be home.”
That’s not to say the journey hasn’t come with its share of growing pains — especially for the founders, for whom operating Saturdays NYC can stand in direct contrast to the feelings that led them to start the company in the first place. “Part of running a business is figuring them out in the best way that reflects you. I’d say the most frustrating part was the first 2 years and not being able to surf as much cause we were busy working. We’re getting better at making time to get in the water now though,” Tunstall continued.
No Peak in Sight
Today, Saturdays NYC still sells the iconic tees, graphics and swimwear (palm print board shorts, anyone?) upon which the brand was built. But it’s also broadened its reach to comprise all aspects of modern living, including shoes, wallets and pouches, and outerwear. And then there’s its unexpected and exquisite suiting collection. “There’s something, I think, quite cool about tailoring and incorporating that into your everyday wardrobe,” Mr. Collett told the New York Times. “It doesn’t even have to be an occasion. It can be just a normal Tuesday, cruising around the city.”
Perhaps Racked put in best in describing Saturdays NYC’s wild trajectory in 2017, “Saturdays is the precocious kid sorting blocks by color before most children utter their first “mama.” The brand’s had a retail shop since day one, and added to its fleet incredibly fast. Saturdays has always been an incredibly quick learner, and now… it’s flaunting all new everything: new styles, a new upgraded production processes, new manufacturers, and a totally grown-up look.” Indeed, it’s the company’s relentless drive to keep up and tune up that has helped it hold up to the precarious weather of men’s fashion.
What can we expect next from Saturdays NYC? The brand continues to expand and enhance its ready-to-wear line with a global perspective.
All of which begs the question: What can we expect next from Saturdays NYC? The brand continues to expand and enhance its ready-to-wear line with a global perspective. Tunstall told HAVN of one of Saturdays’ more recent collections, “Our current collection draws a lot of vibes from South America; cities like Medellin and Panama City. Melbourne has a lot of similarities to NYC where there is a strong sense of creative expression and passion for working hard, but also the need to find ways to balance that with activities and good times.”
Saturdays NYC is also looking to continue to challenge the luxury market with its commitment to quality. “We’d like to demonstrate that luxury and surfing can co-exist. We hope our attention to quality and design lends new meaning to how people view surf brands. We’re constantly looking to the luxury market to make sure our quality is on par with what they offer,” Tunstall, Rosen and Collett told Acclaim in an interview.
Saturdays NYC is also looking to continue to challenge the luxury market with its commitment to quality.
Despite the company’s evolution, it hasn’t deviated from its original focus. “We’ve really expanded and diversified our collection in recent years, but the common thread in each of our products is classic design with a focus on functionality. Every piece of clothing or accessory in our collection is something that would naturally fit into our lifestyle. We’re constantly on the go, whether at the beach, in the city, or in between, so anything that isn’t wearable wouldn’t make sense for our brand,” the co-founders insist.
Nor has it lost track of one of its hallmark influences: the city of New York. Asserts Turnsall, “Even though we are more connected now than ever with social media and ability to connect instantly around the world, a lot of our inspiration comes from seeing things in real life. NYC has always been a source, and our travels and conversations also always end up being a source that guides everything else.”