You've probably never heard of them? However, Brothers Daniel (right) and Dominic Smith have been busy chasing their dreams for over 10 years now. In 2009, they decided to start their very own Australian surf wear brand. They are following in the footsteps of giant surfing brands like Rip Curl and Quiksilver from Victoria, and Billabong, originally from Queensland; who were once, small local brands too.
This is the story of how one Adelaide family is taking on the giant surf brands and reinventing the local, down-to-earth, Aussie surf wear label.
"Salt water has always been in my veins," says Daniel Smith, owner and designer of surf and street wear brand Andorwith. "All I know is salty air, surfing and sand in between my toes."
Daniel was raised in the coastal suburb of Marino, south of Adelaide and although the local beach only catches the occasional ‘stormy’ swell, the family home was 15 minutes away from Adelaide's famous ‘Mid Coast.’
"Back in the day, my Dad and his brother were surfers from West Beach, in suburban Adelaide." That was back in the 60’s, when West Beach had great waves, back before the modern breakwaters changed all the sand drift.
"From an early age, our family was always down the beach, and as we got older, we were either searching for waves on 'The Mid' or surfing at Goolwa Beach, near the family shack."
Just like his Dad and Uncle before him, Daniel shares the same passion for surfing with his seven siblings.
"Surfing has been a very special pastime for the our family and I still get a massive buzz when Dad paddles out with us," continues Daniel. "Now that I've become a father, I am passing this same passion onto my son and daughter."
A love of brands and fashion
As long as I can remember I always loved clothes. From a young age I was obsessed with looking ‘the part’ and was fascinated with the different types of materials, colours and textures. I loved certain brands and became an extremely loyal shopper, when I resonated with something in particular.
This love for fashion, design and art began to grow during University, where I studied Design and Architecture. I also like to think these traits were passed down from my grandmothers on both sides of my family.
My Grandmother on my Dads side designed and made all of her family’s clothes. And my Grandmother on my mum’s side, was the fashion illustrator for all of John Martins newspaper advertisements (now David Jones). I know they would be proud of what I have achieved and the skills they passed onto me.
Where it all began for Andorwith
In the years before 2009, I had been designing a few t-shirts for another brand. It was something I started with a few mates, and it was bit of fun and became reasonably popular in a short period of time. After a few years though, life got busy and it kind of fizzled out.
I felt like I was probably the only one really passionate about making a ‘real go of it’ and for some time, the concept continued to simmer in the back of my mind.
A year or so passed and at the time I was I living on exchange in Seoul, South Korea, studying Architecture. I had a lot of free time to be creative, and soon enough I decided to give the clothing brand another go. Of course, it had to have strong ties to my surfing heritage.
I called my brother Dominic about the idea and when I returned to Adelaide, we went into business together.
Building an Australian surf brand with real meaning
There was one catch. It was really important to both of us that our new brand stood for something. It had to have substance and it had to reflect who we were as people, our family, our passions and our interests.
After months of brainstorming, Andorwith was born.
The name might sound complicated, but it’s not, it simply means; 'together'. The words ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘with’ form the 'glue' in the language as we communicate with one another. And, it represents our united family, being together and or with one another; always.
A long journey with plenty of good times
We started making a few t-shirts to sell to our family and friends. Initially we were selling them from the boot of my car, at parties, at our footy club and at uni.
Dom’s entire group of mates were great supporters. Often, they would rock up to the pub and all be wearing the same gear. I remember there were fights over who could buy what. It was definitely ‘first in best dressed!’
At around that same time, we also started our long, hard, slog of selling at the local markets on weekends. At the first market we sold one t-shirt! Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to cover the cost of the market stall, but we always looked at the positive side in life. That was one sale to a random new customer, so we were happy!
When everything started to click
As the years went on, we launched Andorwith online and with Instagram and Facebook, we began to grow a following in the local surfing scene.
Soon enough, a few boutiques across Adelaide and the east coast of Australia were stocking our clothes.
By around 2013, we connected directly with some high quality fabric suppliers and gradually started to move into dedicated custom manufacturing. This gave us the confidence to do a regular release of new t-shirts each summer and winter. Over the years, we have experimented with a lot of ideas and different apparel; slowly adding hats, board shorts, pants, shirts, outerwear and accessories to our range.
You could probably say 2016 was our break-out year. We really started pushing ‘our little side hustle’ with a bit more direction and purpose.
At this time our retail stockist had ballooned to 20 stores and we were stocked all over Australia, with a big presence in WA.
One of the big surf shops in WA had some amazing contacts and helped us gain access to some top-level manufacturing contacts. This was the time we began to access the quality, sustainable fabrics we are using today.
These connections truly helped us develop our brand ethos, and the ground breaking launch of our 100% recycled board shorts - made entirely from post-consumer plastic bottles. Read more here.
At one of our 'Pop Up' market stalls at the Adelaide Fringe 2015.
How can we make the world a better place?
This question was the ultimate challenge for us. The primary driver behind our mission.
We thought; instead of killing each other and focusing on all our differences, let’s concentrate on all the things that unite us and make us one.
As a human race we are all equal, we all bleed the same blood. We really wanted to promote ‘connection’ with our brand. The philosophy of coming together - for the betterment of Mother Nature and for our species, to evolve, to live in love, peace and harmony – is a philosophy we stand by.
This is how we coined our brand’s catch phrase “we’re in this together.”
We know as a clothing brand, we have the opportunity to be a vehicle for change, to mean more than just a brand on cotton. We like to ask our customers questions and to challenge their perspectives.
Our brand is our platform to create these discussions. We do this via our artwork (often with subliminal and deeper, social and environmental messages), and through more sustainable and ethical manufacturing processes and materials. Read more here.
We are fortunate that fashion is always changing. Therefore, our canvas is always changing. Each season we have a new canvas to share our messages.
Building our Adelaide surf shop
With growing success in both online and wholesaling sales, we thought it was time to create our very own ‘bricks and mortar’ shop.
In 2017, our parents had bought a house in Clarence Gardens. It was pure coincidence that it was next door to a quirky group of local shops. Being surrounded by a local community and serviced by the busy Winston Avenue, we could see that it provided the perfect location for our surf shop.
We really didn’t know if it was going to work, but we built a small 'concept store' in the adjoining garage and it has proven to be a brilliant success.
A 'pop up shop' in front of the garage in Clarence Gardens, late 2017 (before the store was built).
My small family has since moved into the adjoining house and my kids often greet customers, interrupting their play in our backyard for a minute or so.
They love seeing customers buy ‘their Dad's drawings and clothes’. They often have a big proud smile on their face, which just melts my heart and makes all the hard work all the more worthwhile.
First, we started by trading on Saturdays and soon enough we added Fridays and Sundays. The local community and our loyal customers have really supported the surf shop. Now the shop is consistently open Wednesday through to Sunday!
Premium quality, sustainably driven, local Australian surf and street wear
We're just incredibly grateful that our local community and the South Australian surfing scene has supported us and helped our brand grow. We get so many messages of support and encouragement for doing what we doing. People are so stoked to see that we're reinventing the local, down-to-earth, Australia surf wear brand.
For the future, we plan to continue to ride the wave. We have plans to keep-up the release of a new range each summer and winter season. That includes experimenting with some even more adventurous pieces and new fabrics.
And of course, we'll be catching a few waves down at "The Mid" whenever we get a chance.
Please feel free to drop into the store or hit us up online for a chat about the future.