Boldly Conceding to Friction – The Surf Culture of LA

Life Lived True

Surfing’s State of Flow Sets the Tone for a Life Lived True

There’s an inescapable ebb and flow to life, and for some humans, the pull of this current is so strong it becomes a part of the very essence of their soul. They find themselves drawn to the sea, where nature’s pulse beats strongest and the cyclical orbit of our existence is most evident.

A surfer by any other name, these salt-water explorers innately understand the yin and yang of our earth, internalizing this philosophy within their character. While simultaneously thirsting to discover the next wave, what matters isn’t how they get there, but that the ride be a worthwhile adventure. Their respect for nature and fellow surfers translates into a sense of peace with themselves and their environment. It’s an open-ended frame of reference that enables this community to find a Zen-like balance between harnessing and liberating the ocean’s power.

The pursuit of surfing is often compared to meditation—by helping to center the brain, it brings riders to a place where they can tap into the primal absolution of the present moment. It’s also a creative pursuit, with a variety of styles and approaches, and the diversity of Los Angeles’ beaches give members of this local subculture plenty of room to explore.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice testing the traditional waters of Venice Beach, an expert shredding up El Porto’s consistency, or a long boarder cruising Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, each time a surfer paddles out they’re conquering an intrinsic fear and embracing a life lived true. The freedom and release that comes with being at one with nature is unlike any experience on this planet.

“Life lived true means truly being fulfilled by what you do with your time,” says Todd, who spends his days teaching others how to ride the salty seas of Los Angeles. “Whether you’re someone who works a lot and has lots of responsibilities, or is always going hard and living carefree, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Your time is precious, don’t regret what you do with it.”

For Todd, surfing is a transformative expression of his self. Thanks to predecessors like Kelly Slater—perhaps the most well-known professional as the youngest and oldest man to ever win the World Surf League Championships—and Herbie Fletcher—the original LA surfing rockstar—chasing waves as a way of life is more than just a pipe dream.

It’s a simple existence, one governed by all that is low-maintenance, comfortable and functional. Their selfcare is without materialism, lending their effortless look an intangible air of casual cool. Flip flops and boardshorts are key, ensuring they’re ready to hit the waves when a swell comes in. It’s all about a laid-back grooming routine that is natural and goes with the flow of their life.

As Baxter of California Lead Stylist and NAHA 2017 Men’s Hairstylist of the Year Whitney VerMeer can attest, there’s a beauty and raw element to surf styling that has the ability to turn heads with its understated ethos.

“It was easy to appreciate the fresh approach and styling of this Baxter of California shoot since it’s very much in line with what I do,” she explains. “I work with a lot of career models, but my favorite projects are the ones where I cast people from Instagram or someone I pass on the street who has an interesting or intriguing look.”

Just as the ocean resists structural definition, so too does this Los Angeles subculture. Freedom of expression, freedom from judgement and freedom from rules of gender, race and religion—these are the universal truths of surfing.

To join us on this exploration of LA’s subcultures, visit in addition to following us @baxterofca.