Founded in 2009 in a sleepy seaside village on the Central Coast of NSW, TCSS was launched by a couple of surfers and artists, Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes.
What started out as a hobby turned into the well-known, authentic, creative label that surfers around the globe love to wear. TCSS is more than just a clothing brand however, they are a platform that celebrates an emerging alternative movement within surf culture: working with artists, photographers, designers, filmmakers and surfers from across the world.
For Greetings From, Mitchell and Coombes have collaborated with Indonesian artist Arswandaru Cahyo who has laid his signature, comic illustrations over each campaign shot - giving the campaign a unique take of their surf culture compared to their previous campaigns.
Greetings From has also once again utilised the lens skills of Hunter Thomson. Hunter is a prime example of what TCSS represents, he started out as an intern at the ripe age of 16 and has now shot their most recent campaigns thanks to his eye for capturing raw "moments between the moments”.
Winning Best Boardshort two years running, TCSS are up for the gong again this year.
Interview with Sam Coombes
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started TCSS
Back in 2000, Damien Fuller (The Board Collector) was an accessories designer at Mambo, he came into my uni and presented his design process. At the end of the presentation, he said, "And don't bother asking about internships or work experience... we don't do any." So after everyone left the room, of course I approached him about an internship or work experience. He flicked me Jonas Allen’s number (Mambo Art Director and now good friend) and for the next three months I called every Friday asking for an internship. Finally he gave in and I started a part time job at Mambo. I worked there until 2005. Across design, marketing and anything else I could get my hands on. I also met Jim Mitchell (my now business partner). I then took a slight career shift, working for MTV in a marketing role and later, becoming marketing director for their Australia/New Zealand branch. I worked at MTV until 2011.
"I started TCSS with my business partner Jim at the end of 2009. It was literally a weekend side project, a bit of fun. We did sink our life savings into it (which wasn’t too much) and got it to the point that it could no longer be run as a hobby. So in February 2011, we took the plunge and moved onto it full-time. The rest is history!"
What’s different this season for Greetings From compared to your previous campaigns?
It's a really fun collection. Super strong graphics and prints. Most of the graphics have actually been developed in-house by Shaun and Hopey. In terms of the campaign, it feels like a slight throwback to the kind of campaigns we used to run a few years ago, nothing too serious and a real focus on the graphic aesthetic.
Tell us a bit about your design process
For our most recently designed collection, Matt and I spent a week in LA, sifting through Rosebowl markets, visiting vintage stores. Much of what we do has a bit of a vintage reference – mainly 70s, 80s and 90s. We take some of those references and contemporise and update. The theme for the most recently designed collection is South of the Border. We thought this to be pretty topical, and basically referred to juxtaposition of cultures, as opposed to just a typical Californian take on South of the Border. There’s five of us in the office that throw the references and stories around, then they hit and we’re off designing. We’re really happy with the way the product is coming in. We’re all super proud. The creative campaign then ties back to the overall theme of the collection.
Geez, kind of suck stuff up from everywhere. For me personally guys like Shaun Stussy, Tom Sachs, Thomas Campbell, Geoff McFetridge. Music also plays a big part, The Growlers, The Strokes and the local scene that’s going on in Sydney influences our work. And the work being done by Shapers (who we work with), Dead Kooks, and Thomas Surfboards are all inspirations.
How did the collaboration with Arswandaru come about?
We really like the guy. He would often send us graphics, or post stuff and tag us on social media. We liked the fact that he was keen to work with us, loved the brand and he wasn’t being used by everyone in industry. We have a good history of jumping on artists pretty early. We’ve worked with guys like Steven Harrington, Tyler Warren, Land Boys (Caleb Owen Everitt), Georgia Hill and more!
I heard that your photographer Hunter Thomson started out interning for you. Is working with future talents important to you as a brand?
As mentioned, above, we love to be able to work with new talent. Hunter is 18! He’s turning into quite the photographer. He’s shot a number of our most recent campaigns. We love to work with new talent and build them up. To some extent this was the original premise of the brand, that’s where the society part of our naming comes in, it’s about forming a group of like-minded people. Hunter was shooting a bunch of the young surf kids up on the coast. Jim liked what he was doing and the rest is history. He literally just left today for a week long trip to Japan’s Greenroom Festival to shoot for us. He’s pretty excited about that.
Describe TCSS in three words
Community, surfing, quality.