Reef, Surfing the Right Waves: How popular brands also look for a social impact

January 22, 2016 | Sara Schivazappa
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Reef is a well-known surf wear brand, loved and successful in the US and many other countries worldwide. Fernando and Santiago Aguerre, two Argentine brothers, moved in the San Diego beach community of La Jolla, California, where in 1984, they began Reef. Their products became popular among surfers and beachgoers.

Since then Reef has grown into one of the world’s leading activewear manufacturers. Today Reef is the surf lifestyle leader, rooted in California surf culture and translating life as an aspirational journey of discovery and freedom, which appeals across cultures.

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The brand not only provides quality, comfortable and innovative products but it does so in a sustainable and responsible manner. Reef has embodied a profound respect for nature and the engagement to preserve it. Reef represents the enlightened understanding that sustainability can be good for the people, good for the planet as well as an opportunity for the business.

Sustainability is not ‘just’ an act of respect and responsibility but is also the new business model. It creates tangible value because it brings new opportunities while respecting the environments and resources that they outfit their consumers to explore. Through the Reef Redemption program, the brand wrote its manifesto around their love for the natural world, acted through the reduction of their environmental footprint and the incorporation of green technologies as well as mechanisms of reusing-reducing-recycling.

The company chose to use environmentally sustainable and socially responsible processes throughout all the production phases in the Reef Redemption program. Part of the program includes reusing and recycling waste foam by putting it back into ocean-friendly surfboards; giving time and financial resources to support humanitarian and environmental causes; or working with surf travel destination communities (like they did with Project WOO, Wave of Optimism).

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Reef is in fact participating in building a culture of engaging and giving back. Subsequently they are leading the industry towards a more sustainable future. The brand is present in some other thousands of projects with no single recipe but always looking at what is most needed in a local community and then contributing in a meaningful and impactful way.

Hiring locally, donating to philanthropic partners, supporting competitive suppliers’ diversity, microfinance to NGOs, healthcare projects and environmental awareness ones are only some of the right waves that Reef is surfing. Besides producing and selling apparels (very successfully!) Reef is getting cooler and more honest every year. This is simple, thoughtful branding at it’s finest!

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Sara Schivazappa

After humanistic degrees in foreign languages and literatures as well as anthropology, Sara attained a Masters in Communication Analysis and Management. She first joined the United Nations, working in the press offices in Kosovo, Ghana and New York, and then entered the world of marketing and research at Unilever, followed by a move to Innate Motion in 2008.

Sara is a bright and empathetic researcher, appreciated for her ability to understand people in depth and create interesting perspectives. She conducts international research all around the world, applying her human understanding and writing about it using her communication background. These cultural studies are in fact sparks to write articles on societal and cultural issues for the Innate Motion website and online editorial agents.

Sara is an environmentalist and also works for the Italian National Authority for Animal Protection (ENPA) by enabling communication activities aimed at raising awareness around respect for animals.