If you’ve ever gone surfing, if you know any surfers, if you live in an area where there are surfers, you’ve heard of the Billabong brand. This is one of the best-known labels among surfers and people who enjoy casual, beachy fashion. Billabong rose to mainstream fame, bringing surfing and beach fashion into the collective consciousness. But there are brands similar to Billabong that also make surf-friendly, beach-ready looks that you may have never considered before.
Some of these brands have been overshadowed by bigger names and have remained off the radar, while some have stepped up to try to unseat Billabong from its fashion throne. How many of these brands have you worn…and how many of them will you be wearing soon? It’s time to start learning a whole lot more about surfing fashion.
History of Billabong
Gordon Merchant grew up in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. He liked to pack up his van with sleeping bags, tents, surfboards and maps. With this gear, he would head out toward the water. Usually, the Gold Coast. This is a famed surfing spot in Australia. This is where Gordon spent a lot of his free time, soaking up the sun and riding on the waves.
Gordon loved surfing. And the more he did it, the more he learned about the sport. Not just how to surf, but the equipment and clothing associated with surfing. He soon designed his own surfboard with a tucked-under edge. By 1973, he was creating his own boardshorts. They were made with a triple-stitched construction that made them highly durable.
The shorts were hugely popular with Australian locals…so Gordon Merchant made more. Soon, his home was too small for the growing brand. He moved to a factory and warehouse. His boardshorts were known as the best on the market, so the move was necessary. Once the shorts caught on among the surfers, there was no stopping the brand.
In the 1990s, Billabong was the number-one brand among Australian surfers. It continues to be a thriving brand and a famous name among surfers not just in Australia, but around the world.
Finding Brands Similar to Billabong
There are other brands that seek to capture the surf-friendly, beach-ready vibe that Billabong does so well. Discover these other brands and fill your wardrobe with all the surf clothing you want to wear. When you have more options for your surfwear, you’ll always have clothes to shop for.
Banks Journal (Less Expensive)
Banks Journal makes casual surfwear and beachwear that isn’t brightly colored or made in a lot of funky patterns. The colors here are muted and the designs are slightly faded. After all, this is cool surfwear. These clothes are going to fade and get distressed from all those days on the sand anyway. Banks Journal clothes fit right in even when they’re brand new.
Shop here for board shorts, button-up collared shirts, T-shirts, knits, outerwear, tanks and the accessories you need to have a good day on the beach, too. Banks Journal makes all the staples you need for your surf clothing wardrobe.
The pricing here is less expensive than what you’ll pay for similar items at Billabong. That means you can get even more fashion for the money you spend.
Howler Brothers (Similar Pricing)
If you like a little bit of fun in your fashion, you will like the fashion at Howler Brothers. Patterns, bold graphics, multicolor designs and fun style is what Howler Brothers is all about. After all, being on the beach should be fun. Why shouldn’t your clothes be fun, too?
There’s a big selection of fashion here that includes everything you need for the beach. Shirts, outerwear, shorts, pants, hats and all sorts of surfing gear is available under the Howler Brothers label. You can also get the stickers and accessories you need to complete all your beach outfits.
The fun, bold style at Howler Brothers makes this brand stand out. The pricing and the fashion here is similar to what you’ll find at Billabong, so think about adding this fun brand to your regular shopping adventures. When fashion is fun, shopping is fun, too.
Hurley (Similar Pricing)
Hurley’s catalog is full of surfwear in muted Earth tones in shades that will fit right in with the beautiful beach landscape. This brand makes T-shirts, boardshorts, button-up shirts, polos, shorts, pants, hoodies and all the accessories o go with it. You can even find towels and sandals here, items you’re definitely going to want when you’re on the beach.
Pastel and patterned board shorts will have you looking great while you’re on the beach. Hurley has the causal, laid-back style that makes it comfortable and stylish to wear. It’s also easy to wear. Billabong and Hurley have very similar pricing, so you’ll pay about the same amount for similar items at either brand.
Katin (Similar Pricing)
Some people like shopping for options. You might enjoy the idea of lots of possibilities, many different choices, so many different ways you can put pieces together to create new looks. All of this is a big part of fashion, too, and it’s definitely a part of the Katin brand.
Many items here are available in multiple color options and this brand carries just about every color you might name. Heck, you can even get tie-dye designs here. And there are many items. Katin carries knits, T-shirts, hoodies, jackets, flannels, shorts, pants, trunks and socks, keychains and accessories that help you customize your surfing gear.
You don’t have to be a surfer to appreciate the comfortable styles, great color combinations and the overall beachy look of Katin. The pricing here is similar to what you’ll find at Billabong and the styles are similar, too.
Mollusk (More Expensive)
If your brand is simple, casual, comfortable clothing that isn’t flashy but it is well-made, then your brand is totally Mollusk. Named for a creature of the waters, Mollusk specializes in making surf clothing and all the items you might want to wear to the beach. Along with the usual men’s surfing fashion, Mollusk makes clothing for women and kids.
The clothes here are simple but stylish, straightforward casual wear without a lot of flashy patterns or bright colors. This is just casual, comfortable beach style in muted color tones. The Mollusk catalog includes T-shirts, board shorts, jackets, pants, hats, shoes and all kinds of accessories. Mollusk truly makes everything a surfer needs, as this brand also carries surfboards, wetsuits and other surf gear. You can get everything you need to enjoy the waves at Mollusk, including the clothes to match.
Mollusk is slightly more expensive, on average, than Billabong, but the two brands are very close in style and in price.
O’Neill (Similar Pricing)
O’Neill makes fashion for both men and women and the catalog here is absolutely huge. All the cool, casual, laid-back style you want is available through this label. O’Neill carries truly classic surfing fashion. This brand has got the tropical shirts, the cool board shorts, the standard T-shirts and all kinds of accessories you want to have on the beach. Sunglasses, bags, sandals, hats, surfing gear, you name it. O’Neill also carries wetsuits, so you really can get what you need to surf from this brand. This label seeks to be a one-stop shop for surfing clothing, all surfing clothing, and that’s exactly what it is.
This brand doesn’t stop at surfing and beach clothing. You can also come here for snow jackets and stuff to wear in cold weather. So if you’re the type who might go surfing one weekend and then hit the snow for a little boarding the next, O’Neill is where you should be shopping.
The pricing here is similar to what you’ll find at Billabong, so you won’t spend more when you shop here. Add O’Neill to your list of favorite places now because it’s going to end up on the list anyway.
Patagonia (More Expensive)
Patagonia is a well-known outdoor clothing brand that makes clothing for men, women, children and babies. Because people of all ages need comfortable, casual clothing that looks good and fits well, right? This brand makes workwear, activewear, any type of tough clothing you might want to wear.
Patagonia makes clothing for skiing, fishing, running, biking, hiking, working and surfing, too. The catalog of surfing items at Patagonia is enormous and many styles are available in many different color options so you can find something to suit your personal style. These surf clothes are made in fun patterns, classic stripes, color-blocked designs and solid styles.
There are lots and lots of options and lots of items here. Shop Patagonia for T-shirts, sweatshirts, surf accessories and all the casual style you’re going to need to make a big splash on the beach. The pun may be corny but it’s true. Patagonia style is casual and fashionable and sleek.
The pricing here is more expensive than similar items you can buy from Billabong. However, the huge selection of items makes it easy to shop here and quickly find exactly what you want, features that some shoppers are willing to pay for.
Vans (Similar Pricing)
Vans is a famous name in shoes, rising to fame by providing athletic footwear for athletes. But from here, the brand has expanded into providing shoes for all different sports, along with the clothing to go with it. Vans also makes clothing and footwear for surfers, in addition to all the other sporting clothing and footwear you can get here.
You can find a huge selection of clothing under this label. In fact, Vans makes pretty much every item of casual clothing you might want. T-shirts, polo shirts, hoodies, flannels, sweaters, the list goes on. This brand makes clothing and footwear for men, women and kids and it makes a positively huge catalog of stuff to buy, which includes all the accessories you might want to wear, too.
The pricing at Vans is similar to what you’ll pay for like items at Billabong. This is also a highly recognizable brand that is popular among professional and amateur athletes in all sports, including surfing.
Vissla (Similar Pricing)
Cool floral patterns, multicolor stripes, subtle color shades and designs that are made to hang loose, man. Vissla makes casual clothing that’s made to be comfortable and stylish. Shop this brand to find a huge variety of boardshorts, flannels, hoodies, pants, outerwear and T-shirts. Vissla also carries a big range of accessories, not to mention wetsuits, bags and plenty of accessories.
This brand also makes clothing in youth sizes, because surfing isn’t just an adult thing. Vissla also carries wetsuits. Shop here for all the surfwear you need in all the different styles and colors you want. Vissla has similar pricing to Billabong, so you can shop here without spending extra money.
Volcom (Similar Pricing)
Volcom makes surf fashion for men, women and kids. You can find all the surfwear you want here, plus some casual wardrobe staples that no one can really live without. Shop here for jeans, hoodies, flannels, T-shirts, boardshorts and all the accessories you need to complete your looks. Volcom makes wetsuits and rashguards, too. If it’s surf clothing of any kind, Volcom has it.
This brand carries all the items you want to wear on the beach and it sells them in neutral color tones with bold graphics and interesting patterns. These clothes are casual and cool. Rather than using bright, vivid colors, Volcom lets the style show for itself.
The pricing at Volcom is similar to what you’ll pay when you shop with Billabong. It won’t cost you any more to add this brand to your shopping stops.
Vuori (More Expensive)
Shop Vuori when you want board shorts, tank tops, T-shirts, polo shirts and anything else you’d wear to get active. Vuori specializes in all types of activewear, making clothes for fishing, golfing, hiking, yoga and pretty much any other warm-weather activity. That includes clothes that are perfect for surfing.
The style here is sleek and fitted, casual and cool, in a color palette that features mostly neutral Earth tones and soft, muted colors. Shop here for men’s and women’s surf fashion that’s going to look great whether you’re on or off the beach.
The clothing here is somewhat more expensive, on average, than the items you can find at Billabong.
RVCA (Similar Pricing)
RVCA uses a lot of interesting graphics and eye-catching stripes to create its casual, cool designs. You’ll find a wide range of muted color options to choose from here and a big selection of styles. RVCA makes tank tops, T-shirts, boardshorts, flannels, denim, hoodies, jackets and all the stuff you need to wear when you’re going to go surfing. You can also shop here for wetsuits. After all, you’ll need that if you’re going to surf.
The clothes here are casual and simple, made in classic silhouettes and traditional patterns. The clothes here have similar prices to what you’ll find at Billabong, so you can easily add this brand to your shopping rotation without spending more money on your surfing fashion.
Rip Curl (Similar Pricing)
Find surf fashion for men, women and children at Rip Curl. This catalog here is full of interesting patterns and colors and it’s full of all the beach-friendly and outdoor active clothing you want. Shop here for T-shirts, tanks, flannels, hoodies, shorts, jackets, hats and all sorts of accessories to help you finish off all your looks.
Rip Curl uses a lot of technology in clothing, creating weatherproof styles and other designs that are made to handle outdoor conditions. The pricing here is similar to what you’ll find at Billabong and so is the sleek, modern look of classic surfing staples. If you like Billabong fashion, you’ll like the clothes you find at Rip Curl.
Wearing Brands Similar to Billabong
Billabong has become one of the most famous names in sporting fashion, particularly among surfers and beachcombers of all types. But Billabong is not the only brand making surfwear and beachwear and other types of activewear. Start wearing brands similar to Billabong and start exploring lots of other surf-friendly styles. You may not be the best surfer out there…but you can be the best-dressed one.
Still have questions about Billabong? We searched online for the most frequently asked questions about Billabong and got the answers, so you can get to know even more about this famous brand.
What does Billabong mean?
Billabong is a funny word that sort of sticks out in the mind, which is why it’s such a good brand name. But where did this silly word come from? Is it totally made up or what?
Some people say the word comes from the Wiradjuri, indigenous Australians living in New South Wales. Billabong may come from the word “bilaban,” which means a small creek or running water that appears during or after rain. Others say the word is actually Scottish in origin.
In Australia, billabong refers to the branch of a river, an isolated pond or a dead-end channel, something American English speakers would call an oxbow lake.
But in any version of the word you might use, it generally refers to water that is sitting still…sort of odd, then, that the word has become so strongly associated with a surfing brand.
Is Billabong good quality?
Billabong uses quality materials and construction methods to make clothing. Reviewers say that Billabong clothing is durable and well-made.
Where are Billabong products made?
Billabong clothing started in Australia but it is not made in Australia anymore. Billabong clothing is made in China, Morocco, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan.
Culture Trip – The History Of Australia’s Iconic Surf Brand: Billabong
The Men Hero – Where Is Billabong Made? Is It In Australia?
Surfer Today – What is the origin and meaning of the word “billabong”?