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Courtesy of Life’s A Beach

The 80s cult skate brand making a resurgence

Born in 80s Chicago, Life’s A Beach is finding new relevance – find out more about the label and see its new film here

Life’s A Beach always attracted a rebellious crowd. The brand began life in 1980s Chicago, the brainchild of three motocross heads – Jeff Theodosakis, Mark Simo and Brian Simo – who started off by making some baggy board shorts. These sold well, well enough for the trio to uproot to California where they immersed themselves into the area’s burgeoning surf and skate scenes, merging the styles of each into what became their own aesthetic. Naturally, the brand was adopted by surfers and skaters (some of whom were quite controversial, but more about that later), but also by members of the metal scene.

After its heyday in the 80s however, Life’s A Beach fell by the wayside – until three years ago that is, when the brand was resurrected, finding new relevance and a new following. Here, alongside fresh and archive imagery from the brand and a new film shot in LA, we speak to the man responsible for this – Greg Finch. He tells us about the film, the label’s history, and its sometimes controversial fans.

How did the fact that Life’s A Beach’s founders were motocross heads feed into its aesthetic?

Greg Finch: Motocross brought in a new aesthetic to an already bubbling surf and skate style. It has always had a unique look due to the sponsorship element. Companies competed using bolder branding to its maximum. Life’s A Beach used this approach uniquely in skate and surf culture.

The brand has associations with music scenes too, didn’t it?

Greg Finch: It’s a bit hazy but Life’s A Beach had strong associations with metal. Anthrax were pictured wearing the brand a lot. Later on down the line, however, it became associated with acid house through the London clothing and skate store called M Zone.

Were there any controversies surrounding the brand?

Greg Finch: During the 80s, the people sponsored or associated with Life’s A Beach were notoriously wild – surfers like Sunny Garcia (who’d get kicked out of every competition for scrapping) and skaters like Bill Danforth and Mark Gonzales, were among those that helped build that reputation. After the 80s the brand took a dive though. A combination of internal politics and rapidly changing landscape managed to bring the brand to an abrupt end, but its contributions to street culture are undeniably massive.

“...people sponsored or associated with Life’s A Beach were notoriously wild – surfers like Sunny Garcia who’d get kicked out of every competition for scrapping” – Greg Finch

What do you think sets Life’s A Beach apart from other street, surf and skate brands?

Greg Finch: The amount of design that they managed to produce in such a short time and the direction they took at the time has had a huge influence on graphic artists ever since, even if folks don’t know it. It was the full package. But it was the DIY ‘don’t give a fuck’ attitude that really set it apart. It was a bit antagonistic and centred around having a good time. I guess a lot of companies have that, but I think they pushed it to the next level.

Who are its fans today?

Greg Finch: Jeremy Scott wears it a lot, and Rihanna was photographed wearing it a few weeks ago. I guess as it had such an impact in street culture in the 80s that folks who are into cultural reference points will always be drawn to it. We have a big fan base in Japan.

Obviously streetwear brands, particularly those associated with skateboarding, are really popular right now – and always will be, really. What is it about skateboarding that makes it so popular?

Greg Finch: It’s maximum effort for minimum returns, only people that are into it can really understand. It can be the best and worst thing you do all in one day. And it attracts and celebrates a complete spectrum of mad people.

“[Skateboarding is] maximum effort for minimum returns, only people that are into it can really understand” – Greg Finch

Onto the film – what can you tell me about the SS17 collection?

Greg Finch: The film is just a short film by Josh Church. It’s just about what kids get up to. Nothing more nothing less... Just some kids having a time.

@lifesabeachbrand / lifesabeachbrand.com