Making Waves: The Global Reach of a Cornish Village

Ripley, Julie (2016) Making Waves: The Global Reach of a Cornish Village. Futurescan 3: Intersecting Identities, 3. ISSN 978-1911217084

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Abstract / Summary

Making Waves
‘Globalised cultural sensibilities’ arise from the increasingly widespread movement of ideas, objects, people and texts, according to theorist Geoff Stahl (1999), whose work on rethinking subcultures calls for a more nuanced understanding of ‘taste cultures’ or minority interest groups. One such group defies classification into established definitions of subculture, operating in local, global and digital networks of meaning. It is the subject of this paper and of my wider research: surfers.
The visual and material culture of surfing is far from homogenous, in spite of its enormous economic potential having been exploited by mass production and corporate sponsorship. Whilst products from global manufacturing giants can be found on almost any beach with a break, local businesses based in tiny communities can make significant contributions to the look and feel of surf clothing, boards and paraphernalia. This paper intends to discuss how the tiny village of St Agnes in North Cornwall, a community bound together by a shared love of surfing, has far-reaching influence on the mainstream fashion associated with surf culture.
Home to an international environmental pressure group, Surfers Against Sewage, and head office of a specialist surfwear company with worldwide online sales and a shop in London’s Soho, St Agnes’ cultural reach is truly global. This quiet village of 4000 residents also boasts the Annual International Bellyboarding Championships, sponsored by the National Trust. The Surf Lifesaving Club is twinned with Manly Beach, Sydney. So is St Agnes a global village?
The casual visitor’s first view of area would not give this impression: in spite of the plethora of surf related businesses this is no tourist trap. Rather it is the self-styled ‘Badlands’, where ‘locals only’ surf breaks are jealously guarded against incomers. Dependent on income from tourism but determined to retain its character, the village exemplifies some of the present-day tensions felt between global and local, producers and consumers.
Focusing in the period 1979 to the present day, the paper intends to draw out Global and local connections in surf style. In this period movement of people, goods and ideas between surfing locations was facilitated by the availability of young people’s working visas for the Antipodes and reciprocal trade agreements with Commonwealth and European nations; by the spread of home video, recently uploaded to video sharing sites like Youtube; by the availability of cheap long haul flights to the Pacific Rim and beyond as well as a rise in the popularity of the ‘staycation’. Using Bruno Latour’s actor network theory (1984), the paper will consider the relationships between the human and non-human actors in the network around surfing in the provincial UK location of St Agnes. Small local producers and retailers of surf clothing and better known, global brands such as Billabong and Quiksilver will be discussed, as well as the garments themselves to trace the meanings associated with them by the wearers in this context.

Item Type: Article
ISSN: 978-1911217084
Subjects: Fashion & Textiles > Fashion
Fashion & Textiles > Fashion > Fashion Marketing
Fashion & Textiles
Courses by Department: The Fashion & Textiles Institute > Textile Design
Depositing User: Julie Ripley
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2017 11:17
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:30


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