The Sureshot 10 Years On
Never did we think the ZANEROBE Sureshot pant would still be around after ten years, and still be relevant. What started out as a “bet over a beer” created the brand, and what was designed as a “drop-crotch for sneakerheads”, reached a global audience that defined the brand. This is the ten-year anniversary and story about our number-one selling style of all time, the Sureshot.
Between 2002-2007, ZANEROBE was well-known for shirting and t-shirt prints. The brand was performing solidly in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and we were just starting to get traction in Europe. Building a brand without a signature pant did have its hurdles but it didn’t bother us too much, we were doing well and enjoyed the process. It was either a trip to Europe or a new designer joining us in 2007 - or both - that ignited the idea of the Sureshot.
The biggest event of the year was Bread and Butter, Barcelona, a gathering of brands from around the world showcasing their latest collections. ZANEROBE was there, showing in our allocated 10x10 booth, but the big-dog on campus was G-Star showing out of a custom marquee the size of a football field. The show featured carrot-fit, low-rise rigid denim which looked ok on a few body types but didn’t seem practical or comfortable.
The Neilan Pant, 2007
On return to Australia, we de-briefed the crew and one of our new designers, Dave Allison, had already sketched up a similar carrot-fit-drop-crotch pant in a regular cotton-chino fabric - called the Neilan. We liked the direction for the brand so backed it in for a future collection.
We released the first iteration of the Sureshot - the Neilan - in two colours late 2007 and everyone hated it. It was one thing coming from a ‘top-of-body’ brand but another being a crazy-arse harem pant that people couldn’t get their heads around. The shape was too baggy, the rise too low and the fabric too inflexible. What we did like was the elastic waist and cuff; the waist added a sporty flexibility for our skater mates and the cuff showcased our sneaker-heads new limited-edition kicks perfectly. We were on to something.
Junior Designer, Nat Taubman (then ZANEROBE Snr. Designer, now co-founder of Barney Cools), got his hands on the Neilan and re-designed it from the ground up. Minimised the carrot shape, reduced the rise, tapered out the knee to ankle, kept the elastic waist and cuffs - but most importantly - moved it to a cotton-stretch fabric, added flex panels to the inside-leg for increased flexibility and renamed it the Sureshot. If you can recall climbing stairs or jumping in the car wearing carrot-fit, low-rise rigid denim, the new Sureshot was the antithesis of this experience.
Kendrick Lamar courtesy of Terry Richardson, 2013
We felt we had a winner in the Sureshot, a pant that paired back to our top-of-body style and suitably embraced a youth culture of skating, sneakers, and music in a seamless way. Over the short-term, we experienced how popular this new style was going to be, adopted by artists, pro-ballers, and cultural icons alike.
It took a little time to convince our retail partners to give the Sureshot a try, even with online sales indicating it was fast becoming a top ten item. What gave it a little nudge was the likes of a young Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Isaiah Rashad adopting it into their on and off stage looks. Then the big guns jumped on it; Macklemore, Diplo, The Game, Jay-Z, Bieber, Russell Westbrook, Nate Robinson to name a few, we were starting to get decent momentum and more consideration at a wholesale level. The same stores that took in their first orders back then are still ordering the Sureshot today.
The Sureshot didn’t blow-up and die like regular fashion fads, it steadily grew an audience over time despite many (many) similar pants offered over the same period. You have to acknowledge the design personnel, brand reps, stores and ambassadors for their perseverance, hard work and social shout-outs. The main reason for its longevity is that we didn’t pretend to invent or own the style, just the master curator of it.
Sureshot Rebels at Dawn Campaign, 2012
The Sureshot started as a simple design but we made sure it improved in fit, construction and fabric quality every season. By year four, and half a dozen makers later, we finally got to an optimal consistency everyone was happy with. Recognition of this diligence was from our customers and fan base that came back for a Sureshot purchase many times a year. Then we built on it, different fabrics and details, everything to keep our community engaged and tuned in. The Sureshot spun off numerous variations and adaptations - approximately 50 - but one thing remains constant the best possible fit, fabric, and construction quality.
Sureshot 10 Year Development
🔍 Click image to enlargen
So where to from here? What’s interesting is that from a design perspective, we’ve lost none of the drive and enthusiasm since the first Neilan design. The Sureshot is now a wardrobe staple alongside a favourite denim or clean pair of sneakers, so for us, it’s all about pushing fabric, textures, fit, details and construction too. And as our industry innovates, sustainability, augmentation, and biotechnology will turn from buzz-words to functional reality. A Sureshot made from recycled materials, self-cleaning and repairing, controlling body heat, monitoring and adapting fibers according to movement, sending data to smart devices - more a probability than a pipe-dream.
Whatever the future holds, we’re proud of the ten years of Sureshot development and thankful for our ardently loyal crew. As curators, we’ll continue to design with equal degrees of excitement, forward-thinking perspective and of course, relevance. We’ll never take this journey for granted.