DUNSTANSURFWEAR

DUNSTANSURFWEAR DUNSTANSURFWEARCall us at, US (+1)  949.910.4309
 AUS  (+61)  7.3102.1900

OUR STORY

1974

Australian, British, New Zealand and US surfers start visiting Sri Lanka, and seek out Hikkaduwa for the surfing. Because there are no developments of restaurants, hotels or guest houses, surfers knock on peoples doors and offer to pay to stay the evening and have a meal. Dunstan's family house is one of the more welcoming homes, and Dunstan's father starts to offer surfers accommodation for 7.50 Rupees per night with a meal (equal at the time to US$1.15). The visiting surfers start to call the house "Solomon's House" and would stay anywhere from a week to several months. All the cooking was Sri Lankan food family style, and the guests would sometimes also share their exotic home recipes with Dunstan's family. As a boy, Dunstan would follow the surfers out to the beach whenever he could and watch them surf with amazement.

1975

At age 11, Dunstan's curiosity and eagerness takes him over, and he asks his guests if he can go surfing with them. The surfers take Dunstan under their study, and teach him how to surf the waves of Hikkaduwa. Dunstan is immediately hooked, and every spare minute he has, he's surfing with his expat friends.

1978

Where there was once nothing to do, and nowhere to stay, Hikkaduwa's residents start to build and invest in businesses to support the throngs of surfers that are starting to visit its shores. From the period of 1978 through to 1982, restaurants, shops and hotels/guest houses are built and Hikkaduwa becomes a gotta-go destination for Australian, Asian, American and European surfers.

1979

Dunstan and his brothers open a restaurant in Hikkaduwa serving tourists and surfers -- at the time -- one of the few good restaurants in Hikkaduwa. Dunstan also starts to go with his surfing friends to the completely undeveloped eastern coast of Sri Lanka -- a place called Arugam Bay -- to surf during the off-surf season of Hikkaduwa. From April to September each year, Dunstan is now surfing in Arugam Bay with his friends from Australia, Europe and the States. Near the end of the season in '79, Dunstan and his surf mates find a small cove and phenomenal break-point south of Arugam Bay, and set up a camp there that they call "Peanut Farm".

1983

At age 20, trying to figure out how to make an extra living that supports his incredible passion for surfing, aside from the family restaurant business, Dunstan invests the money he has saved to open a small shop on his family's property at 401 Galle Road in Hikkaduwa. On offer to his customers: 2 surf boards for rental, and a small number of boardshorts imported from textile dealers in Thailand. He spends as much of his free time surfing as is possible.

1988

The global garment industry finds Sri Lanka on the map, and attracted by its nice, hard-working, and smart people, they decide to set up factories to develop an apparel manufacturing base in the country. Dunstan recognizes the trend, and rather than continuing to buy supplies from Thailand, he collects odd-lot left over fabrics from the mills, hires a few sewing tailors, and starts to make boardshorts for his friends coming to Hikkaduwa to surf. One of Dunstan's surfer friends tells him that he should call his company "Elephant Shorts", and he helps him design some logos with elephants which are highly popular and revered by the people of Sri Lanka. At the same time, a civil insurgency starts to take hold in the south of Sri Lanka, which starts to challenge tourism, resulting in less visitors to Hikkaduwa. But, Dunstan forges ahead with his dream to create custom boardshorts for surfers coming to Hikkaduwa.

1991-1994

As more off-cut and overstock discarded fabrics become available from the big manufacturers, Dunstan starts to work with surfers who visit him and develop their own boardshort designs. He develops a system of custom-tailoring and measuring the boardshorts to the surfers specifications, and starts to add his own touch to the designs of the shorts with his iconic floral pocket tab and key string, as well as numerous design templates that make it easy for his surfer friends to quickly design their boardshorts. He starts offering 24-hour next-day delivery in the store to his customers.

1996

Dunstan marries his brothers wife's sister, and starts to build his family and deepen his roots in Hikkaduwa. Yet, the civil war in Sri Lanka begins to intensify and starts to significantly impact the number of surfers and tourists that are coming to Hikkaduwa and Arugam Bay. Because he has their measurements, Dunstan starts sending boardshorts to his surfer friends and customers by mail all over the world, in order to keep his business working through the conflict.

2001-2003

In February 2002, the Sri Lanka government and rebels sign a Norwegian-mediated ceasefire, but in 2003 the rebels pull out of talks. Yet, the ceasefire holds, and tourism starts to increase again, and Dunstan's business starts to flourish as surfers come back to Hikkaduwa in droves.

2004

On the morning of December 26th and over 2000 miles away, the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake -- 3rd largest ever recorded with the longest duration of faulting ever observed -- 8.3 and 10 minutes -- produces an enormous tsunami that 90 minutes later arrives in Hikkaduwa and levels and floods the town with several 5-6 meter walls of water in succession. Dunstan's business, although still standing, is destroyed by more than 2 meters of flooding. He rebuilds, and 3 months later is back in business making his boardshorts. Hikkaduwa also continues to rebuild in 2005 and 2006, but tourism remains elusive with the lack of hotels, restaurants and services that were destroyed by the tsunami.

2010

Given the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and after many years of hard work, re-investment, and through the urging of his surfing friends worldwide, Dunstan works to internationalize his brand for a launch in 2011. With some partners, he builds his iconic brand and the production process to make Dunstan custom-tailored boardshorts available worldwide to more enthusiasts of Dunstan's creative Asian-surf lifestyle.