Interview by Josh Barrow | Photography by Jimmy Wilson
We had immense pleasure in cruising with Harry on the back end of last year for the inaugural Vans Pipe Masters. Our time on the North Shore mostly involved waiting for swell to show up whilst consuming many a Fat Tire. No matter how late the previous evenings festivities we would awake daily to Haz already sussing the waves from a tree, fresh as a daisy, binos in hand. With his first Vans capsule dropping this week, we thought it a good excuse to find out what he’s been up to, as well as a little backstory on the collection…
Are you just cruising at home for a bit?
Yeah, I’m actually up in my childhood hometown Noosa at the moment, I saw a swell up here and thought it would be nice to come and hang with my family for bit. I love coming back here, it’s like being on a tropical vacation but filled with memories of being a kid.
You’ve put in some serious Hawaii time recently between the Pipe Masters and the Triple Crown. Any personal highlights for you from this Winter?
Hawaii was epic this year. There was such a good vibe at all the Vans houses and we had a bunch of team dinners and really good hangs. Hawaii has always overwhelmed me but once you submit to the chaos you learn to love it, I have a bunch of friends over there that I always love catching up with.
Highlight for me was being there for the Eddie Day that was easily the best thing I’ve ever seen that’s surf related.
We knew about your injury coming into the Pipe Masters… How was it to come back to surfing in Hawaii and how’s your ankle feeling now?
It was a really hard mental barrier to get over, leading up to the event I had days where I was feeling really confident about the contest then some days I was nervous my body wouldn’t be ready to handle it. As soon as I got to Hawaii and had a few surfs in the warm water and had a morning routine of jogging the beach in the soft sand my leg started feeling really good. I think having so much time to visualise how sick it would be to get a good wave out there almost manifested it happening. That was maybe the best feeling I’ve had in the water, hearing that beach erupt with hoots after coming out of that pit was so surreal.
Seems like you’re cruising with a solid crew when you’re on the NS. Who’s your favourite person on the Vans roster to watch surf out there?
Man, Justin Quintal really impressed me this winter. Last year he really took a liking to a few of my guns, and he ordered a few for himself which was really nice of him to support some core shapers from Australia, then he went and got maybe the best 2nd reef roll in that I had seen in years.
The whole Vans crew were absolutely ripping I was so proud of everyone.
The bigger boards look great under your feet… Have you been riding bigger boards at home at all or was that your Hawaii quiver?
The area of the coast where I’m living packs a punch through the Winter so I’ve been riding big boards a lot, I’ve been working on guns with Paul Gravelle from South Australia, along with Josh Keogh and Kirk Bierke from the South Coast. Mick Mackie also made me a 12 footer that has really helped me feel comfortable riding bigger boards, you feel more of a passenger on the wave, you’re not looking to generate speed, its about positioning the board in the right place of the wave and harnessing the speed.
We just received a box of your new capsule collection with Vans… This is the first Vans products with your name on right? How did it come about?
Yeah I’m stoked with how it came out. Vans hit me up to do a collection through COVID so it was nice to have something to work on while the world was on pause. Since I was a kid every birthday and Christmas was a new pair of Vans, now I have boxes rocking up to my doorstep with my name plastered all over them, its a surreal thing.
You’ve got some apparel, footwear and a wetsuit boot as well as some accessories in the collection. Was there anything product wise you wanted specifically from this capsule?
The main thing I wanted in the collection was durability… gear to last the harsh climates and elements. The Destruct Mid comes in a Work Boot lace which I love plus the Waxed Canvas, and the brown leather panels look really sick. I’ve been wearing the first samples for about 8 months and they are still solid and wearing in exactly how I wanted them too.
Can you tell us about the artwork? Who’s it by and is there any stories behind the drawings?
The artwork was done by Mike Gilotti. I’ve been a huge fan of Mike for ages. He does a lot of the artwork for Baker (Skateboards) and I first saw his art through his skate shop “Lotti’s” which is sadly no more around. He was so good to work with, he basically asked me what direction I wanted to take and I said I just want a bunch of iconic looking characters blasted over the whole range as I love meeting charismatic crew on my travels. I sent Mike iPhone photos of blokes I’d met at pubs through Australia when I drove around the country, so a lot of the faces on my collection have a story behind them. Mike has a real talent of bringing an idea or an image in your head to life. Mike would send me a drawing of a photo I took of a guy that I had a conversation with and I felt like I was sitting back next to him at the pub having a beer and remembered all the stories he told me.
There is a reoccurring brown throughout. Was that your shout? Is it a favourite colour?
Brown leathers and waxed canvas wear in really nicely. After designing the brown mid shoe I just kept the theme running through the whole collection, I reckon the brown wetsuit bootie is pretty classic. That was actually Scott Sisamis’s idea, I was running down to the beach in them one day and stood in dog shit and you couldn’t even tell.
Piece your most stoked with from the collection?
I’m pumped on the canvas utility bag, I think that’s coming out later in the month, I’ve got this Drizabone bag that I’ve had for about 6 years and keep all my wax, fins, keys, lighter, binoculars, speaker, T tool, pocket knife etc. in and I customised it to fit my needs. I left it out in the sun when I went to Hawaii and came back, the thing is all faded and looks so mental.
(You can shop the Vans x Harry Bryant Collection here)
What have you got on your agenda next ?
Getting fit and healthy for the Winter and being organised and ready for anything that gets thrown my way. I’m coming into a time where I want to be peaking in my surf career and I want to push myself in bigger waves and surf as hard as I can.
We’ve heard rumours of a new video project. Can you tell us a little about that? How long you’ve been filming for and who with? Which zones you’ve travelled to shoot? When it will be released?
Yeah I’m working on a full length video with Dave Fox. The video was originally meant to come out with this collection but it kind of blew out into a bigger project than we originally expected. We filmed all through Australia during COVID and then did a pretty insane trip through Europe last year. I’m happy with the footage we’re sitting on but this year I’d like to include some Vans team riders and do a few more trips to finish off some skit elements and tick a few locations off the list. The movies gunna’ be like Cult Classic Horror / Surf movie including a bunch of 16mm skit elements set in the Desert of Australia.
Can we expect you in Europe at all this year?
Yeah I heard there’s a Vans duct tape in Cornwall (England) this year… I have family in Padstow and went to school there for a few years when I was a little tacka, Keen as.
One last question before you go… Can you tell us the story behind the Hasbulla photo?
Hasbulla was coming to Australia. I was at the pub and got so juiced up and bought tickets thinking all my mates would be keen. Four months down the track I get a text saying my Meet and Greet with Hasbulla is tomorrow in West Sydney so I got the train 4 hours solo with Dion’s little Drag pro model and got a photo with him.