I surfed, once. It was at Muriwai beach and I was being taught by my dad; we both had misguided hopes that I would be a natural, despite the fact that I had never shown any sporting interest in anything (and despite the fact that he didn’t really surf either). But we’d committed to the plan and had bought me a pink secondhand surfboard; I was convinced my future was going to be surfer girl, who could actually surf. And afterwards I’d be wearing my cool Billabong boardies and a Roxy hoodie.
I was reminded of that day - and my history of what Highsnobiety once dismissively described as “performative surf-wear” - when I heard about “coconut girl”, another micro trend or ‘aesthetic’ that’s been defined and discussed on social media (namely TikTok, which cycles through trends at a frightening pace) - probably the first modern trend that speaks directly to my own youthful brushes with personal style and fashion. (If you wore a trend the first time around blah blah blah…)
The “coconut girl” of today is tropical hibiscus prints, beaded necklaces, crochet tops and dresses, glitter appliqués, bucket hats, tank tops, jandals, puka shells, anything with a dolphin on it. It’s “Y2K breezy beach casual” or tourist beach town; a 2021 version of how we dressed in the late ‘90s and early 2000s when we were on holiday.
But why? Fashion is already leaning, hard, into the nostalgia of the early 2000s, so it makes sense that these more niche trends from that period have a resurgence. It also plays into the hot vax summer that the Northern Hemisphere is (apparently) having right now, and speaks to our collective wish for freedom, fun and time in nature.
“Coconut girl” is considered to be an off-shoot of ‘avant basic’, another micro trend/aesthetic named and described by Emma Hope Allwood as “algorithm fashion.... quirkiness in the age of mechanical reproduction... vintage without the effort... if summer from 500 days of summer was an insta gal with a mullet.”
Like cheugy, you know it when you see it. "Coconut girl" though, is far more kitschy and nostalgic.
To me, it also feels like it flirts with, but doesn’t completely capture, a very distinctive NZ/Australian version of the trend (heavily influenced by Australian surf culture and brands like Billabong, Roxy, Mambo, Rip Curl, and Rusty, and Home & Away) - and, the name is a little problematic.
We need a new name for our own, localised version of this extremely niche aesthetic and I’m proposing “surf turf”. Surf but on the land. You may or may not surf (you probably don't), but you love the beach, holiday towns, sunshine and the #vibe. You know it when you see it...
(Let us know what we’re missing from this list, or you have any suggestions for naming this aesthetic, by sending us a DM)
Surf turf aesthetic, then
Wearing 'boardies' pretty much anywhere
Ruining your hair with SunIn
Ruining your hair by putting lemon juice on it, because your mum wouldn't buy you SunIn
Having your belly button pierced
Loving Roxy and Billabong
Shopping at Amazon Surf, or the beach town surf shop when you’re away over the summer holidays
Getting your ears pierced at the local beach town chemist when you’re away over the summer holidays
Watching Blue Crush more than twice
Pining for a pastel Baby-G watch
Being in love with Kelly Slater
Having The Body Shop body butter, preferably in mango
Sunbathing and using tanning oil
Being obsessed with Home & Away; wishing you could move to Summer Bay; thinking you’d be best friends with Hayley and Noah
Owning a lava lamp
The documentary The Endless Summer
Floral beaded necklaces from the local market
Finding a shell on the beach and wearing it as a ring all summer
Wearing strappy Reef sandals as school shoes
Using a velcro wallet
Feeling smug because you had a Skipping Girl bag
Having a pair of Havaianas sent over from Australia because you saw them in Dolly or Cosmo magazine but you couldn’t buy them here in NZ yet
Worshiping at the altar of Anthea Paul and her Girlosophy books
Surf turf aesthetic, now
The mainstream rise of the sustainability conversation, something that surf culture has been championing for years
Holiday's happy hibiscus print (in fact, everything about Holiday as a brand)
CBD honey bought via Instagram
Lorde's Solar Power era (vague crunchy sunny Coromandel vibes)
The beaded necklaces from Checks Downtown
Flawed Faces’ shell necklaces
Owning 15 different sunscreens and actually using them #SunSmart
Naomi Osaka’s Vogue Japan cover
Bottega Veneta's $3000 floral beaded necklace (this one is ridiculous, but a perfect example of luxury co-opting a niche and nostalgic aesthetic)
Actually being inspired by Vogue’s Y2K beach shoot with Hailey Bieber
Being kinda into this beach look from Carrie, the ultimate surf turf girl