For anyone who says surfing is at a loss of characters today, they just don’t know Koa Smith. Aside from blowing up in just about every corner of the Earth and winning every contest in sight, Koa’s also known for his flared-out fashion sense, sporting zebra and cow-print jackets to the SURFER Poll and NSSA awards banquets. Now Koa, at 13 years old, has started his own clothing line, Little Fella Designs. We caught up with Koa between his afternoon surf and the latest episode of “Project Runway.”
We heard you’ve started your own clothing line. What’s the story behind that?
When I was younger, I wanted to dress up for the NSSA Regional Banquet, I told my mom what I wanted to wear and she said we would never find that in a store, so she took me to a fabric store and said to pick out whatever I wanted, so I looked around and found a soft, fuzzy black-and-white-spotted cow print. It was perfect. So she made me a jacket and a pair of white pants to match. Each special occasion after that I picked out a new fabric and she would make me a new suit.
Last year when I was in Bali I found a fabric mart and a tailor and had a bunch of jackets made. When I brought them back and gave them all away, everyone loved them. So I decided to start a company so I could share my design with the rest of the world. I have a website [Littefelladesigns.com] now that you can order from. I just need the measurements and a feel for what you like, then I ask on a scale from 0-10 – 10 being the wildest—how wild you want it. Then I take the information and go to the fabric mart and come up with a one-of-a-kind design.
So you and your mom must be pretty tight if you guys are now business partners?
Yeah, my mom is one of my best friends. In the beginning she made all my jackets for me. I pick out the fabric and she does the sewing, we make other cool stuff like board socks and super sick blankets.
How’d you come up with the name “Little Fella Designs”?
When I was in New Zealand and Australia everyone called me “Little Fella.” Someone mentioned that would be a good name for a clothing company. I thought I wanted to do a whole surf line, so my brothers and I started drawing different designs for trunks. When I got home my dad registered the name, and then when the jacket idea came up I decided to start Little Fella Designs and sell jackets.
Do you do all of the design ideas yourself or you do you have someone helping you out?
Yeah, I do design my own jackets, but I like getting ideas from my family. I think jackets that you wear to parties should be fun, so my designs are kind of wild. I like the classy look, too, so I can design something more conservative if that’s what you’re into.
What do you have to say to other groms who want to follow your lead and take an interest in fashion?
Follow your ideas, when you follow your ideas they always turn out better than you think.