Nick's Picks: Neon Wave
Senior art director Justin Dusett describes Neon Wave as "a surf and snow inspired men's retail shop that aims to service the modern nomad," and that in this context, modern nomad means "a person who will climb a mountain on the weekend, who also wants to look good doing it and look good on Monday too."
Dusett's definition of Neon Wave is mirrored by the brands and lines carried at its temporary 1328B University Avenue location. In January 2019, Neon Wave plans to move its operation from University Ave to High Point plaza in Victor. This move will more than triple the square footage of the store and bring it closer to the Finger Lakes region.
The focus on surfing and snowboarding comes from Neon Wave's owner, Frederick Rainaldi— a local real estate developer with a lifelong passion for outdoor sports. In his newest venture, Rainaldi looks to recreate the positive experiences he had growing up at surf and snowboard core shops.
To service Rochester's niche snowboard market, Neon Wave stocks the best possible products, starting with one of the world's most popular snow brands, Burton.
"Burton is a brand that really created snowboarding," says Dusett.
Neon Wave carries boards, bindings, boots, outerwear, and technical wear from the forty-one-year-old snowboarding giant. Customers will also find some of Burton's rarer lines including AK—a collection of top-of-the-line, breathable, water-resistant outerwear made with an industry-leading Gore-Tex fabric.
Shoppers can also find hardware from Gentemstick, a luxury board brand from Japan with an interesting design. Taro Tamai, founder of Gentemstick, is an experienced surfer who believes that ocean waves and a snowy mountainside share similar contours and traits. With this belief, Gentemstick produces angular snow boards, often with a fish-tail shape like a surfboard, which are unique to the industry.
"Tamai created these boards that are inspired directly by surfing, which is really a perfect mesh for us." says Dusett.
Even for shoppers without any intent on picking up a snowboard, Neon Wave still provides a valuable service. Just as skateboarding culture has infiltrated almost all elements of men's fashion, from brands like Palace and Supreme dominating street wear, to high-fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga incorporating more and more skate inspired-garments, snowboarding apparel has potential to do the same. This idea can already be seen in Stone Island, a popular high-end street wear brand that is influenced by snowboarding outerwear. Neon Wave will carry Stone Island after its move in January 2019.
As evidenced by the recent resurgence of camp collar shirts with tropical, Hawaiian prints, Neon Wave's surf lines, like Saturdays NYC, can also be worn by the sartorially inclined. Saturdays was founded in Manhattan by Colin Tunstill, Morgan Collett, and Josh Rosen, who, despite their urban location, had a love for surfing. Initially starting with swim trunks and a single location in Soho, Saturdays has grown to eight standalone stores across the globe, with a diverse line up of tees, button ups, denim, pants, hoodies, sweaters, and suits, and a revered reputation in the men's wear world. Saturdays's metamorphosis from swim trunks to full-fledged fashion brand continued with its pre-fall 2018 collection of silk, band collar button-ups with pastel colors and bold prints, which were inspired by 1970s and 1980s South American culture. Shoppers can find dozens of Saturdays pieces at Neon Wave, ranging from pants and thick sweaters, to shorts and tees.
"Saturdays has gone global with a concept that started as a foreign idea to their location, so they're an inspiration to us," says Dusett.
Neon Wave also carries Outerknown for environmentally conscious consumers. Founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater and designer John Moore, Outerknown aims to make fully sustainable clothing that respects the world around us. Some of Outerknown's best practices include using organic cotton, producing board shorts made from recycled fish nets, and using seventy percent less water than other clothing companies to make its denim.
Still, like any indie retail store that opens in 2018, Neon Wave is tasked with providing a unique experience that will bring customers inside, rather than shopping online. Aside from a clean, minimalist, aesthetically pleasing 800 square-foot floor space and a hip environment, Dusett defers to the products Neon Wave carries to attract customers.
"We want to be an outpost where customers can learn about the inspiration behind our products—you don't get that just by clicking a link," says Dusett. "Rochester is a market that has been underserviced for quite a while and we want people to know that they can come in, hangout, and get great products here."
Follow Nick's Picks on Twitter at @NicksPicks585.