April 29th marks the day that the University of Southern California’s next student-run clothing company launches, but more importantly, it’s a day to celebrate the surfing community.Out the Back(OTB), created by Dalen Michaels and Malachi Frye, is taking on the mission to change the toxic culture surfing in Southern California holds and instead celebrate these shared connections.
It is no secret that the West Coast experiences localism: heckling and intimidating those who are not native to the surrounding beaches. Originally, localism was thought to enforce etiquette and order, however, some have taken it upon themselves to spread negativity in the surfing community. After sitting down with Dalen and Malachi, it was apparent that their passion to rebuild coastal communities that is inclusive to all was real.
The phrase “out the back” is a versatile surfing term used to describe the point of breaking waves. When there is a bigger set coming in, one might yell, “out the back!” to indicate they should paddle further out and some may just sit out the back, waiting for these bigger waves. Dalen and Malachi said they chose this phrase because not only does it resonate with the surf community, but it can also be interpreted as getting outside. The term has a sense of exclusivity because some may not know what out the back means (me, for example, prior to the interview) but still allows people to have their own interpretations. This duality of “out the back” is exactly what Dalen and Malachi are pushing for — celebrating those in the community and welcoming all who are new to it.
“You don’t have to buy anything, the most important thing is making sure you know we are here to share the wave,” said Dalen when discussing some of their goals and values. Sharing the wave was directly instilled into the two co-founders last year in August when Dalen and Malchi did exactly that. They both lit up when telling the story of the time they caught a wave together at the local point break Trestles, and a core memory was made. “That one wave is exactly what we want to do,” Malachi said.
To dive deeper, OTB plans to give community members who represent these values a platform and bring them up alongside OTB. They used Andew Huang, USC’s surf club president, as an example of someone who inspires them. Andrew has done extensive kelp research and embodies the “share the wave” mentality that OTB promotes. Even prior to their launch, Dalen and Malachi are stoked to highlight these awesome members of the surfing community.
This drive to bring in others and shine light on them flooded into the creation of their team. The founders described it as a random occurrence where they noticed a fun creative culture with Phoebe Zheng and Ayaana Desai and immediately knew they wanted them along for the ride. Phoebe and Ayaana brought in the design and art skills that OTB was looking for. Malachi is the product and digital design guy, and Dalen handles the business side. Together, they have a vibrant team to take on this passion project. “Even if it fails, we tried something that we loved,” said Malachi. Pushing products to solely make a lot of money was not something they were focused on at all. Instead, they focused on building loyalty from a community who reflects these shared values.
Additionally, OTB wants to host events that bring these people together. Whether it be “making tacos for people in our backyard or renting a bus for a group surf trip,” OTB is psyched to share their passion with people. Malachi expressed wanting these gatherings to be a supportive place for people to share and hear stories about one another’s experiences but most importantly, to recognize that not everything is always happy and ideal, and therefore build a community for people to talk about these problems and “go surf about it together.” Surfing is Dalen and Malchi’s outlet and sharing what makes them the happiest is their dream.
Check out Outheback’s instagram (@0utheback) and direct message them to snag some steezy clothes. The website is under construction, but for future endeavors, check outhttps://outheback.com/.