December 16, 2013

Orange County, California, is known as a fun, active and hip destination with an enviable climate. The Southern California lifestyle is sought after by many, but as the center of the region, Orange County is also the hub for many of the most popular, active brands around. Here are some brands that have originated or are currently based in (or both) Orange County, California.


Surfing didn't originate in Orange County but the surfwear industry sure took off here. It's no surprise that many of the top global surfwear companies can trace their roots back to Orange County and/or are headquartered here. OC is home to Huntington Beach, a.k.a., Surf City USA"®, which is home to the annual US Open of Surfing, which is home to'€¦well, you get the point. OC has always been a hotbed for the latest surf fashion trends and continues to be.

Quiksilver (Australia, 1969; now Huntington Beach). The iconic brand Quiksilver, with the recognizable crest logo, is almost synonymous with surfing. The company began in Australia in 1969 but has its global headquarters in Huntington Beach.

Photo credit: Quiksilver

Rip Curl (Australia, 1969; U.S. headquarters in Costa Mesa). Another iconic, longstanding surf brand, Rip Curl, began with surfboards and wetsuits, branched into surfwear in the '80s and is still going strong in OC today.

Photo credit: Rip Curl

Ocean Pacific (Irvine, 1972). Ocean Pacific, a.k.a., OP, started out as a surfwear label but has since branched into swimwear, footwear and other accessories.

Pacific Sunwear or PacSun (Newport Beach, 1980; now Anaheim). It's alluded to in the name (sun and Pacific) so it makes sense that the company has kept its offices in Oragne County, close to the Pacific Ocean. For more than 30 years PacSun has geared itself towards the young (and young at heart).

Photo credit: PacSun

Hurley International (Costa Mesa, 1980). A subsidiary of Nike, Inc. (since 2002), Hurley International burst onto the Southern California scene in 1980 and hasn't looked back. The company has successfully catered to the the surfing market, branched into skateboarding and music, and also sponsors surfers on its team.

Roxy (Huntington Beach, 1990). Geared more toward women, Roxy was launched in 1990 by Quiksilver and is also headquartered in Huntington Beach.
Photo credit: Roxy


Vans (Anaheim, 1966; now Cypress). The apparel company started out most notably with shoes aimed at the skater crowd. Being from Chicago, I had never heard of them until I saw the checkered Vans worn by Sean Penn in the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." I owned the same pair of Vans in my youth and I referred to them as my "Spicolis." Vans is so big in OC that there is even a Vans indoor skatepark at the The Outlets at Orange.

Photo credit: Vans

Rainbow Sandals (Laguna Beach, 1974; now San Clemente). Durable and loveable Rainbow Sandals are the quintessential beach flip-flop. This footwear brand is known for its comfortable feel that countours to your feet and leaves the indelible '€œshadow'€ footprint of its owner.

Photo credit: Rainbow

DC Shoes (Huntington Beach, 1993). A subsidiary of Quiksilver, DC Shoes specializes in active footwear, particularly for skateboarding (which originated from surfing) and snowboarding.

Photo credit: DC Shoes


Rickenbacker (Santa Ana, 1931). Any fan of music knows this iconic bass and electric guitar manufacturing brand. Based in Santa Ana since 1931, Rickenbacker guitars were described as "frying pans" due to their long necks and circular bodies. The guitars were famously used by The Beatles, The Who, The Byrds and RUSH, among others.

Photo credit: Rickenbacker

Dick Dale (1937-present). Ok. Although "Mr. Misirlou" isn'€™t technically a brand - or even an OC native -" Dick Dale, known as '€œThe King of the Surf Guitar," played a major role in developing the surf rock music sound that is synonymous with Southern California. To handle Dick Dale's loud and fast paced play, local legend Leo Fender produced custom-made amplifiers, including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amp.

Fender (Fullerton, 1946; now Corona). Any fan of music also knows the name Fender. Fender's breakthroughs in guitar and amplifier manufacturing are still relevant to this day. Leo Fender was a local graduate (Fullerton Union High School) and, along with his instrumental contributions, also made significant partnerships (see Dick Dale reference). Fender's final guitar company, G&L Guitars, is still located in the original Fender factory on Fender Ave. in Fullerton.

Photo credit: Fender

Other Brands:

Oakley (Foothill Ranch," 1975). With it's famous "armory" headquarters in Orange County, Oakley continues to blend innovative design and technology into its eyewear, clothing and accessories.

Photo Credit: Oakley

Balboa Bar." Local legend has it that Balboa Island is the birthplace of the Balboa Bar. TV shows like "The O.C." and "Arrested Development" have brought international fame to this cool treat.

Balboa Bar

What's your favorite OC-based brand? Share with us in the comments section below!