It was a brand that stood for sun, surf and laid-back style. As American as apple pie, yet with the additional novelty allure of the California coast, Hang Ten didn’t just sell clothes; it sold a lifestyle.
What’s the name about? “Hang Ten” refers to a surfing maneuver, where a surfer walks to the end of their longboard and “hangs” all ten toes off the nose of the board. It was the perfect name for a brand that would come to embody the spirit of surfing and beach culture.
It all started small. In 1960, surfer Duke Boyd and clothing manufacturer Doris Moore worked together to create the first pair of Hang Ten shorts, with the design specs based on Boyd’s experiences on a surfboard. (Read more about their story below!)
Throughout the 70s and 80s, Hang Ten grew in popularity. Their clothing, especially their iconic board shorts and t-shirts, became synonymous with a life of endless summers, surf, and sand.
Bright colors and bold prints — plus their distinctive two feet logo — became fashion statements in themselves. From California surfers to Midwest teens, everyone wanted a piece of the Hang Ten style on everything from swimwear to sportswear.
The company’s influence stretched beyond the shores of California, and by the late 80s, the Hang Ten clothing brand was a global phenomenon, available in over 30 countries — much like the also colorful vintage Esprit fashions that were popular with much of the same crowd.
Despite changes in ownership and the ever-evolving fashion trends, Hang Ten stayed true to its roots, continuing to promote a lifestyle of easy-going beach vibes and cool, comfortable clothes.
The history of Duke Boyd & Hang Ten clothing (1975)
By Walter Logan – Napa Valley Register (California) February 26, 1975
You can’t work up too much pity for Duke Boyd, the man who put more people into surfing trunks than they have freeways in Los Angeles. He took his million dollars, and at last report, was somewhere off in the Fiji Islands in search of what surfers call the Endless Summer.
Boyd, now somewhere in his late 30s, was a surfing enthusiast in the Long Beach, California area in the 1960s when he discovered that ready-made trunks were likely to disintegrate when one of the big waves caught a surfer and ripped him from end to end.
So he thought over his problems and went to Doris Boeck [aka Doris Moore], a friend who was then engaged in making dickey collars for men and women whose shirts for some reason had no collars. When he flexed his thigh muscles, he complained, the seams would rip on his ready-mades and he would be floundering around in the briny less than seminude.
Miss Boeck, a businesswoman of the first water, and one who had no great trust of surfers anyway, made him pay in advance. Then they put their heads together and worked up what was the first trunk designed basically for surfers — heavy canvas, double stitched to hold it together and reinforced with brass rivets to make it even stronger (like they did with the old Levi’s jeans).
It probably is the most copied swimming trunk in history, and has influenced swimwear throughout the world.
There was, of course, a pocket for wax without which no surfer would go near the ocean — otherwise the surfboard would not slip properly through the water. And even now fake surfers who have no intention of going near the water demand a wax pocket as a mark of authenticity.
Then they decided to go into business and they offered the heavy-duty trunks up and down the Pacific coast. Surfers rushed in and bought them as fast as Miss Boeck could sew them together. The demand was so endless that she decided they had better have a trademark for protection.
What, she asked, is the surfer’s ideal — the equivalent of a hole-in-one in golf, or a no-hitter in baseball? He replied it was when a surfer can ”Hang Ten” — and a new trademark was born.
For nonsurfers, the expression “Hang Ten” means that a surfer is so perfectly in control and balance that when sliding down from the crest of a wave he can walk to the end of the board and dangle all ten toes over the edge while nearby surfers gasp in admiration.
For the heavy canvas trunks, the trademark was a hand-embroidered pair of bare feet with ten prominent toes. In time, their trademark became a status symbol and all the surfers were happy.
Boyd and Miss Boeck also were destined for great happiness and riches — but that came a little later. The demand was too great and they could not cope.
The business was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and still, there were demands for more of the same. They were making T-shirts and other appurtenances of surfing and were thinking of other fields.
Then entered Stan Foster, the president of the Ratner Corp. a giant California clothing firm, and their fortunes were to change. His daughters came home babbling about the new status symbol sweeping the California coast, and he became curious and then wildly interested.
He investigated and then paid $3 million cash to Boyd and Miss Boeck for the rights to the trademark and to diversify the manufacture.
Miss Boeck, the business manager who had handled all of the difficulties of manufacturing and marketing, received $2 million and went into semiretirement in Southern California. Boyd got $1 million and found he could surf anywhere in the world — wherever it was summer.
There are now so many lines it’s hard to keep track of: surfing trunks of course, now likely to resemble basketball trunks, which is the latest rage in swimwear.
But there are also beach towels, women and girls’ wear, outwear, innerwear, “sports boards” for people who want to keep in surfing practice on land — they used to be called “skateboards.” There is tennis wear, motorcycle wear, bowling wear, slacks, jeans, etc., and soon there will be shoes.
And what about Boyd and Miss Boeck? Ron Fox, the handsome, bearded president of the San Diego-based firm of Hang Ten International, says they are perfectly happy. The Boyd-Boeck label is sought out by surfing enthusiasts in New Zealand, Australia, Guam, the Far East and Europe, and they are working on Canada and Mexico.
And Boyd? “The Fiji Islands,” Fox said. “They have a great surf there.”
Vintage Hang Ten 70s-80s satin shorts & jackets
Retro 70s shirt and shorts set for girls (1978)
Milk white Hang Ten terry boxers and top (1978)
Striped Hang Ten sportswear and solid-color shoes (1979)
Vintage Hang Ten swimsuits for women (1980)
Matchstick pattern on white sweatsuits (1980)
Official Hang Ten joggers/sweats (1980)
“The official sweats of the most well-known active label in the world.”
Dressed to a tee: T-shirt fabric fashions for her (1981)
Retro Hang Ten Summer Camp fashions for 81 – Khaki and purple
Plaid menswear from Hang Ten (1981)
Teen and women’s sportswear from Hang Ten clothing (1981)
Hang Ten T-shirt dresses (1982)
Hang Ten retro 80s dresses for juniors (1982)
1980s casual fashions for juniors from 1982
“The most famous lifestyle label in the world! Designed in California. Made in America.”
Hang Ten Jrs fashion by Daisy of California (1982)
Vintage Hang Ten plaid Lumberjack fleece fashions for juniors (1982)
Hang Ten fitness fashion from 1983
Vintage 80s Hang Ten sweats for men and women (1983)
Our status symbol is built in, not on…
In 1961, we placed a pair of feet on our first garment as a statement of quality and the achievement of excellence. Since then, our Feet have signified classic, American-made sportswear that’s durable, comfortable and uncommonly long-lasting.
Hang Ten represents attitude clothing that is contemporary in color and design, yet remains traditional in quality and craftsmanship. Classic styling and quality, details that most people feel are a relic of the past, are the mainstay of every Hang Ten garment we produce.
Our aim is not to change your social position, but instead, to give you the finest American-made quality and attention to detail available.