We got to sit down with the Creative Director of Reyn Spooner, Doug Burkman, to learn more about his passions, insight behind the Reyn Spooner, how he finds inspiration and much more. Read along with us.
What was your path to Creative Director at Reyn Spooner?
The path to my current role here at Reyn Spooner has been quite the journey. Starting at big brands in the US and Japan, a 10 year run with my own brand in NYC, and finally westward to LA and Honolulu. My entire career has been based on print, pattern and textile design – match that experience with my love for Hawaii and it was a match made in heaven. Over the years, I have always admired Reyn Spooner and have a significant collection of shirts dating back to the 90s when I started collecting Spooners. I’ve now been with the company for four years and feel very fortunate to be working at a brand that has such a rich history and a real personal connection.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Wow, great question. For me inspiration comes in all forms. I love visiting flea markets and vintage shops, browsing ebay for assorted Hawaiiana, as well as time spent in nature in Hawaii. I find a lot of inspiration by looking back through the Reyn Spooner archive. With 65 years of history, there is so much material to reference. I enjoy cultivating relationships with artistic talent since original art is at the core of everything that we do.
(Original Reyn's ad from the 1960s)
How did the design of the collaboration come about?
Slowtide and Reyn Spooner both share a connection to Hawaii and the Island Lifestyle as well as an emphasis on quality. I think that the opportunity felt very natural and organic.
What was the mood / theme behind the shoot?
When going into the creative development process for planning the photo shoot, we knew that we wanted to highlight the towels in their natural environment—on the beaches of Hawaii. We also wanted to have some fun with the ponchos and show how versatile they are in terms of working for surfers of all ages. When shooting Toa, the boy in the poncho on the boat, we were actually hit by a thunder storm and Toa loved being warm and cozy in the poncho.
How do you feel the Aloha Spirit is woven into each collection?
Not many people know this, but the first Reyn Spooner prototype was literally cut and sewn in a grass shack on Waikiki beach in the late 1950s by our co-founder Ruth Spooner, whose business was making surf trunks for the surfers in the area. When going into the collection design process, we always make sure that we are being true to ourselves and the brand which is defined by the Spirit of Aloha. Everything we produce must go through the Hawaii filter.
What’s your favorite place to go to be inspired?
I have 3 favorite places that I enjoy visiting for work inspiration. Southeast Asia and specifically Thailand which has fantastic vintage and a thriving aloha shirt collector/ dealer scene. Japan, where I have been traveling for work over the past 20 years. Reyn Spooner has been printing fabrics in Kyoto for over 40 years. And Hawaii of course! I spend a lot of time each year in the Reyn Spooner Honolulu office with our crazy talented art department.
What’s your most fun or exciting project you have worked on in the last year?
That’s a tough one! And it's probably a tie between Godzilla and Peanuts – 2 of our large shirt programs in 2021. We worked closely with the team at Peanuts to create a three shirt collection that we released throughout 2021. I have always loved the iconic cartoon and to have the opportunity to work with Snoopy and Gang and bring them to life in a collection was really a blast. Godzilla is a pop culture icon. We lined up with the original series of films set in Japan and am quite proud of the artwork that we created.
Shop the collection here + find your favorite that will bring the essence of the island no matter your destination.