We tracked down founder of Roark, Ryan Hitzel to scope the steez on a radical company that rackin up bar tabs all over the globe.
Why Japan? Urban camping in Tokyo seems like an odd place for design inspo, or is it?
It’s odd in the sense that everything in Tokyo is as abnormal as it gets. It’s an amalgamation of ancient Japanese tradition mixed with the greatest hits from other cultures of the world. So setting up “Camp” in the back of a Ramen House allowed Roark to blend in to the oddity of it all and experience the details that makes Japan so unique.
Whats a typical day around the new Roark headquarters?
It’s become pretty hectic. But we rebuilt the living room from our cottage in South Laguna to make it feel a little more homey and soothe the nerves as the company grows. The new office is backed up on the original hide-trading route from Dana Point Harbor to the San Juan Capistrano Mission so we take stock of the backdrop and pay homage to the “trade gods” on the regular.
Tell us how artifacts play a role in designing the latest ROARK line.
We see the artifacts of adventure as images, thoughts and trinkets that ones collects along the way. So things that Roark comes across like the cherry blossom, Japanese carpenters knives or WW2 military cuffs weave their way into the collection very naturally. It’s sort of a visual and physical journal of Roark’s story telling.
The Cherry Blossom hat is flying off the shelves, is there some magical meaning behind the design?
In Japanese culture Cherry Blossoms represent beauty and the transient nature of life, which aligns well with our man Roark. As far as the magic, who knows. It could be the value of the gold in the print.
We spotted the drummer from Greenday sporting some Roark. Is he a revivalist?
Trey is a rad dude. He probably sees a little of himself in Roark, but at the end of the day I think he likes bringing beers by the office and logging San O with us!
Roark seems to find the underbelly of every town. What was his guilty pleasure on this journey?
There’s a bunch. Roark gets into a brawl in kareoke club and knocks a guys tooth out, only to pick it up off the floor and put it back into his shirt pocket as a reminder. Or rumors of him going home with foreign business women so that he could poach a clean shave in the wee hours of the morning. You gotta read Volume 5 for yourself!
What the hells a Chiba Bowl?
Chiba Bowls is the name of the Ramen House Roark stays at and endearingly calls “Camp Tokyo.” It’s also a stretch of beach breaks just outside of Tokyo.
Who’s the babe in those photos from the Tokyo camping trip?
That’s Kumiko, you’ll have to read Volume 5 to find out more.
We hear you crossed paths with some shaper dudes. Any new designs to speak of?
Roark apprentices a dude named Masa in Tokyo and learns to shape knives and boards. In the spirit of the tutelage we collaborated with Chris Christenson to shape 3 boards with our cherry blossom inlayed. They are almost to beautiful to surf.
Whats next for Roark?
Rum and revolution
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