At Large /SHARE
No Awkward Moments
There are no awkward moments in the world of Chris Chong. He’s the man we call by his last name and who (re)introduced us to phrases like ‘shut the front door!’ and ‘get out of town!’ – exclamation marks intentional. The 30-year-old presides over the Misfit Empire – a kingdom encompassing Misfit Shapes, the Sugarmill Surf Emporium, and Misfit Aid, a charity organisation focused on building crucial infrastructure in developing nations. In charge of board sprays at Misfit, he’s a bit of an artist too. A ‘suitable catch’, as your mother would say. It was the awkward moments thing, though, that was a plus for us – especially given our formal introduction took place at an ungodly hour of a Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week morning on Bondi Beach when half the RUSSH team and our guest Justin Wu were wearing wetsuits. But that’s a whole other story.
To get his story, we caught up with Chong (and this time, all parties were fully clothed).
It’s been a dream for a long time to have a surfboard label that was firstly completely left of centre, secondly managed and marketed like a apparel label and lastly but by no means less important outwardly focused and dedicated to making an individual and social impact.
How did it all get started?
Short of the long – met Davy in 2004 and started having dreams about one day teaming up and growing out Misfit Shapes. Then worked for a number of companies including Quiksilver and Insight, while Dave was building up the surfboard business. In 2009 we finally felt it was time to take the leap of faith and we did by resigning from old jobs and signing a lease for our current location at Narrabeen in which we opened the Sugarmill with another good friend, Stuart Bates, along with opening Misfit Shapes showroom and bays. We then rebranded Misfit in 2010 and well as they say, the rest is history.
What's the single most important thing about doing what you do?
Experience. For me and for the people that ride our boards. I want to be satisfied and fulfilled at the end of a day, and I get that from the experience people get from riding our boards or being in our store or coming with us to places like Chile to build a house for a family that lost theirs in a earthquake. I want people to remember their experience with us and I want it to stay with them.
You are the man in charge of sprays, yes? Can you walk us through your style? The process?
Of late it’s all been acrylics straight on the blank, but I’ve been messing around with how I apply the paints – cut up foam rollers, brushes, sponges, I even found myself using toilet paper the other day (… It was clean to clarify). As for designs, there has been no rules – a mix of weird graphics and patterns, a little Mexican-inspired at times but I’m also feeling strange robots and super heroes and I’m still going through a love for anything 'old America' inspired.
What are you working on right now?
I am playing with a mix of applications – resin tints over the top of acrylics, I’m liking texture and depth rather than flat colours. And I’m trying to find looks that have never been done on surfboards before – almost themed like the way apparel brands have style themes and inspirations per collections.
What tunes are always on high rotation for you?
The Pulp Fiction soundtrack, R.L Burnside and old Mississippi blues, David Byrne, Southern Californian garage surf rock – Thee Oh Sees, The Growlers, 60s and 70s prog rock, The Flaming Lips, TV On The Radio, The Goons, Modest Mouse ... But mainly anything pre 80s.
What makes you laugh?
Roasts, browncardigan.com, compilations of people falling over, old guys at the pub, babies when they learn expression, people with no shame, my mates.
What are you going to have for lunch today?
Anything, as long as it’s accompanied with Tabasco sauce.