“I didn’t want to create just another surf shop,” says Hayden Cox. And with Haydenshapes Experience Store, he’s succeeded. Sleek, minimalist and dominated by asymmetric concrete fixtures used to display boards, fins and accessories, the space is more like an art gallery than a surf shop.
It makes sense that a shop like this comes from a shaper like Cox. Now based in Southern California, where Haydenshape's US office and manufacturing facility is located, Cox is one of Australia’s most innovative and successful surfboard makers. Having started shaping at 15, his boards soon found their way beneath the feet of a raft of top flight pros, as well as thousands of recreational surfers. “When I was 16, I learned how to code a basic website and registered Haydenshapes as a business. I built my first factory soon after. Today we manufacture in Australia, the US and Asia, and we sell to around 70 countries.”
A key element of the Haydenshapes brand is early adoption of technology. The Mona Vale store features tablets where customers can design their own boards and virtual-reality goggles, which transport the customer from the store to the shaping bay, so they can understand how their board will be made.
Cox's innovations have resulted in global recognition. When barely out of his teens, he developed a design he dubbed “futureflex”, which replaced the traditional wooden stringer down the centre of a surfboard with carbon fibre rails. The technology has been adopted by shapers around the globe, and his Hypto Krypto model has twice won Australian surfboard of the year, and is one of the most popular board models in the world. Cox has collaborated with Google and Audi, and created a collection of marble surfboards for fashion designer Alexander Wang. “It attracted those who could appreciate the product as an art piece, even though they were fully functional surfboards.”
As well as boards, Haydenshapes offers menswear, wetsuits and surf accessories, stocking brands such as Bassike and Saturdays Surf NYC. There's also a Haydenshapes line of wetsuits made from Japanese neoprene.
“The appeal of the space is quite broad,” says Cox. “Most people hang out for around an hour when they come in.”