Token is More Than Just a Surf Shop
Do you both surf?
Christian: Just me, I grew up surfing. I’m from Florida, but I’ve been in New York for 12 years and have been surfing here since.
And Lisa, you do the fashion design?
Lisa: We work together, really. We’re a very close team - we come up with ideas together and we technically design together, although I’m more on the executing end of things. But we really work as one brain in two people’s heads.
When did Token expand from a surfboard company into a fashion line?
C: I was shaping and fiber glassing surfboards at first for about 5 years. Then Lisa and I really joined forces and dialed the brand and started designing clothes about 3 years ago.
L: We originally just wanted to add some t-shirts, but I’ve always been interested in silhouettes, so then we began to add more pieces.
With such a strong surfing community in NYC, how do you see yourselves along with competitors?
C: I don’t see them so much as competitors. There are some great shops doing really aspirational things. I just think that what we’re doing is a bit different.
C: I think we tap into the surf culture that I grew up in during the ‘90s. I wasn’t entirely conscious of it in the moment, but I was influenced by so much around me growing up while skating and surfing in Florida. Previous references from club culture, to hip-hop, to punk have shifted my perspective. I’ve stayed with what I know - in that way, we’ve found a niche for ourselves.
Where do you find your biggest design inspirations?
L: It’s hard for me to answer. It comes from anywhere and nowhere. It’s like zeitgeist – it’s so blurry.
C: The surfboards are custom – so the inspiration was partly us, partly what the customer wanted. If I had to trace inspiration, it would probably come from whatever I was listening to music-wise. The memories bring inspiration and from there, I sort of fall into a black hole. Lisa taught me to never go for the hanging fruit, but to keep turning over stones and to discipline yourself to find the best ideas.
L: I think it’s also important to shut off every now and again. With the current social media overflow we live in, I try to take time to shut off and listen to your inner sources. You want to keep ideas as original as possible.
What are your favorite collaborations/brands you sell?
C: That’s a difficult question because I love all of the brands in here. We either know a lot about them or know them personally, so there’s always some sort of connection.
L: The beauty is in the mix. It’s interesting to have a combination of surfing, high fashion and hippie pieces. Every component is important in the full context.
How do you see Token expanding in the next 5 years?
C: We want to put a lot of love into this store. I love this neighborhood and we’re very happy to be here. We don’t truly operate from a business plan vision – I think we’re just showing up.
L: This store is it for now, and then we will see. We believe in having one thing and doing it really well.