Interview with the founder of Noon Goons
"My social life is nothing. I don't do much. In my spare time, I want to be surfing or skating. I don't go out much because I'm up so early."
Kurt Narmore isn't exaggerating. Narmore is the founder and creative director of the Los Angeles menswear brand Noon Goons, but his schedule is more akin to that of a morning news anchor. He wakes up every day at 4am. "I'm out the door by 4:30," he says. "Because I love sunrises, man. I get high off that." He runs 3.5 miles, works out and then skates to his office and works until 9pm.
But this all makes sense. Skating and surfing are the foundation of the brand, but so is getting up early. "Noon Goon" is basically surf parlance for a poser. "It's people that show up to the beach at noon when it's warm out—tourists," Kurt says. "So, surfers, we go early dawn patrol. We should leave by noon because it gets blown out." He learned the term from his mother, he recalls. "She'd say, 'Okay, the noon goons are here, let's go.'"
There is no better brand ambassador for Noon Goons than Narmore himself. With his Jeff Spicoli vibe and close-cropped, bleached hair, it's like he's the quintessential surfer dude straight from central casting. The 32-year-old certainly stands out from the crowd in the enclosed brick patio of the Bowery Hotel (Narmore was visiting New York for some meetings). He's wearing a denim jacket from Noon Goons' upcoming spring season covered in bleached hearts he did himself by hand (each iteration will be slightly different) and some refined trousers of his own design. A safety pin holds together a silver chain with a dangling bling crucifix.
The Noon Goons fall/winter collection is at Nordstrom, featuring classic pieces and some wild cards like an iridescent jacket. "I found dope fabric and I flipped it in a way that a skater would want to wear, and a mature guy would wear on a night out, or something Tyga would wear," Kurt says. "We always include animal prints, plaids and tartans, and keep it very punkish." There are also some exclusively designed T-shirts and hoodies for Nordstrom and a clever jacket with a safety pin that can be used as a zipper pull or to embellish however the wearer chooses.
"Our clothes are meant for the more mature and grown-up skater/surfer dude who doesn't want to wear branded stuff or logos and they also don't want to wear corporate stuff," Kurt explains. "But they want to still feel cool."
Narmore's preferred sports are perennial go-to themes for coolness in menswear. But what makes Noon Goons different is the level of authenticity. It's in everything from the brand's organized beach cleanups (the latest was in Newport Beach) to its nonaggressive Instagram that features old punk flyers for bands like Bad Brains to the street-cast models Kurt finds for the lookbooks (though he actually mostly scouts in the ocean and not on the pavement).
"I find them either in the water surfing or at punk shows," he says. "A lot of those kids, you got to come in at an angle, especially when you're surfing. They don't give a fuck. 'You're in my way.' That's their attitude. I have to be cooler with them. 'Oh, that was a sick one.' And then paddle back out. 'What are you riding? I got this brand, maybe we should shoot some time.' And they're, Yes, here's my Instagram or whatever. Yes, all of those kids we try to reuse them and keep them stoked. You can see them grow up."
Kurt fondly remembers some other discoveries who are members of a local punk band. "The last show, this kid jumped off a roof, broke his leg and they kept playing," he says. "An ambulance came."
Kurt can probably identify with the roof-jumping punks. His dad was a manufacturer of skateboards, surfboards and snowboards and passed away when he was 13. It led to a difficult phase. "I was really rebellious," he says. "I was just surfing and skating with a fuck-you attitude, just being a punk kid. I lived with my grandma, lived with my uncle. I moved around because I was an out-of-control kid. I was just stupid." Clothing was his savior. "Fashion for sure is my medium to let my energy go," he says, "to focus it on something that I like doing." Kurt is close to his mother and speaks to her multiple times a day. "She sees my dad in the stuff I'm doing."
Before Noon Goons, Kurt did production for various LA-based brands (this is how he familiarized himself with the factories there; Noon Goons is wholly produced in the city). Kurt describes the formation of the brand like osmosis. "I started making clothes for my friends because I knew how to do it," he says. "I had a good eye for what was cool and what was coming up. People liked it and it got picked up by a store in Japan, and it sold out and they reordered." He continues, "It's important to control the brand growth. We want to keep it cool and not oversaturate."
And to keep it local. "I'll never leave LA," Kurt says. "I love LA, dude. I have a couple of vintage cars. I got skating and surfing. I'm an avid snowboarder, so I have everything I could want right there."