Boutique Peek: Oakland Surf Club
This beachy downtown Oakland boutique specializes in breezy staples and playful tweaks on wardrobe standbys.
All photos by Lauren Crew.
When you think of Oakland, you probably don’t immediately think of surfing. But step into Oakland Surf Club, downtown’s bright new men and women’s boutique, and you may think you’ve been transported to a small beach town: A row of high-end surfboards stand at attention in the window; Hawaiian print button-ups pepper the array of casual men’s shirts; and brightly colored women’s swimsuits hang waiting for the water.
“We’re just into the LA surf vibe. We’re not trying to be a fully operational surf shop,” says Max Klineman, who owns the store with wife Ariana Serrano-Embree. “We get a lot of different people looking for different styles. It’s a culture-mash and I think that’s really important.”
What you’ll find
Expect trend-driven tunics, dresses, and tees in simple prints and soft colors on the women’s side, and casual pants and printed button-up shirts for the men. Both sides sport indie brands with a youthful vibe, with prices ranging from free to $1000 for a surfboard. But many pieces hold familiar beach elements. Ours, a menswear brand, produces reimagined Hawaiian shirts with a slimmer fit and updated patterns, and Almond Surfboards and Designs offers an updated version of the definitive chinos.
“That’s how a lot of our stuff is – classic style with an updated fit and colors,” Klineman says. “We’re not trying to do anything crazy. It’s all pretty classic.”
Women’s brand Ace and Jig produces loose t-shirts and dresses made from woven fabrics sourced from the likes of antique French linens and Japanese Boro quilts, and New York brand Loup updates the feel of classic women’s tennis wear.
The long, wood table running down the middle of the narrow shop holds a few geometric patterned bags and small cases of hammered brass jewelry. On the men’s side, you won’t find a shortage of skate-style hats.
Who you’ll see
The area’s diversity brings in a wide range of customers, from downtown foot-traffic kids picking up a hat, to people from Rockridge and the business district coming all the way over to buy a made-in-the-US shirt for $98.
Die-hard surfers will wander in on occasion to chat, but in the time the store’s been open, the Oakland Surf Club has sold only two boards. “Surfers mainly like the community aspect of the shop, and having a place to gather in Oakland,” Klineman says.
Klineman and Serrano-Embree also host local artists and bands in the gallery they run above the shop. “We want to be a platform for people to showcase what they are already doing, or for people who are just trying to get their career started,” Klineman says.
The back corner of the shop houses a collection of reissued vinyl records from Now Again records, including Los Angeles-based Innovative Leisure, an indie label for vinyl nerds who are in the know. “People freak when they see this stuff,” Klineman says.
The couple is currently working on a full women’s line, set to be released this summer, and hopes to create a men’s line, too. They are also working with a Los Angeles hat maker to turn old button-up shirts in flamboyant patterns into one-of-a-kind hats.
Despite its name, CRAP Eyewear, a sunglasses brand in LA, creates reasonably priced sunglasses for men and women in trendy, classic shapes. Also, check out the locally made Fat and the Moon body products for healing salves and strong, earthy scents. And stop by often to catch either Klineman or Serrano-Embree bouncing their eight-month-old baby girl on their hip.
337 14th St Oakland, (510) 465-2770, oaklandsurfclub.com.