In the late 1950s, Nancy and Walter Katin were in the business of making canvas boat covers, and the $7 billion surf wear industry of today was all but unimaginable. Yet one day a young man came into the Katins shop in Surfside California, complaining of the difficulty in finding a pair of swim shorts durable enough to stand up to the then-quirky pastime of surfboard riding. Walter went to his sewing machine and with of the sturdy boat canvas and whipped up the first pair of Kanvas by Katin surf trunks. The surfer was stoked.
Word of Nancy and Walter's creation quickly spread up and down the coast, and the Katins were suddenly in the surf trunk business. The American surf wear industry was born.
"This famous story and popularity of the Katin surf trunks grew and grew."
By the time the sport of surfing boomed in popularity in the mid-1960s with the Gidget/Beach Boys-era, Katins were firmly entrenched as the grooviest surf trunk around.
And so they remained, even as other companies came and went. The Katins kept making their high quality surf trunks, selling them from the surfside store and through a network of surf shop dealers all over the western hemisphere. From the sixties to the seventies, virtually every top surfer wore Katins and all were proud to appear in surf magazine ads for their favorite trunks. Their loyalty wasn't just because Nancy and Walter made great surf trunks -
"The Katins loved the surfers who came into their shop, and the surfers loved them."
Walter Katin passed on in 1967, and Nancy continued to run the shop and the business in the same manner as before.
In 1976, just as professional surfing was starting to take off, Nancy initiated an annual Pro/Am Team Challenge at the Huntington Beach Pier as a way to let the surfers show their stuff. All the world's best surfers came to compete, but so did all of the hot young kids from beaches all over the USA, who were given the chance to surf side-by-side with their heroes. Winning the Katin team challenge instantly because one of the surfing world's most prestigious accomplishments.
By the late seventies, the surf industry had begun a decade of explosive growth, but that wasn't important to Nancy. Her involvement with surfing had nothing to do with cashing in on the sport; it was based on her love of "her boys".
By the early 1980s, Nancy's health began to decline and expansion of the company was the last thing on anyone's mind. Yet at this time, the popularity of surf wear began to skyrocket, and many other manufactures were quick to take advantage of the trend, aggressively attacking the market with slick advertising and world-wide promotional blitzes. Katin, however, was content to keep things low-key, continuing to sew up the best surf trunks you could buy in the backroom of the surfside store, selling them up front and through the same loyal network of surf shops.
"In 1986 Nancy Katin passed on. Although they were like parents to a generation of surfers, the Katins never had any children of their own"
Nancy left the business to her loyal friend and seamstress, Sato Hughes, who had begun sewing trunks for the Katins back in 1961.
Along with her son Glenn, Sato continued to run the Katin operation in the same low-key manner. They focused on the retail store, and the keeping the quality of the Katin surf trunks they produced the best they could be.
"Quality, durability and good looks has long been the Katin motto and it's our attention to detail which continues to separate Katin from the rest of the surfing pack."
The Katin quality remains better than ever. Walt and Nancy wouldn't have it any other way.