Jim “Jimmy'Z” Ganzer and his wife couldn’t wait to show us their tucked-away Malibu house filled with artwork, surfboards, photographs, and original sample pieces from JIMMY'Z
collections of the 80s. Last week, Ema and I drove up the PCH, along turquoise blue waters and into a lush green canyon for a visit with the great Jimmy himself. He told us stories of Costa Rica, the grinning woman on Jimmy'Z tags, and his favorite places around Los Angeles.
Christina Kim: How did you get started with the Jimmy'Z?
Velcro got popular in the 60s especially for baseball shorts and I thought to myself, “Why didn’t some surfer do this?” My art dealer’s husband made clothes and said, “You’re the surfer to do this.” Surfwear was big in the 60s after Endless Summer
, and we decided to revive it in the 80s.
We started with the velcro belted shorts, because as a surfer I didn’t like knots or any closures in the front for when you lie down on the surfboard. So we came up with the side closure and our first pair of shorts were made in nylon. I think the shorts speak for themselves and make their own statement.
Ema Hewitt: Where do you get your inspiration?
I read Japanese forecast magazines because they’re inspired by American vintage. I like to reference vintage pieces and retrace our steps to get it right. I’m working on a vest that can be reversible with unique buttons and striking fabric contrasts, similar to quilts that are made of different fabrics and patterns.
EH: What else are you working on these days?
I paint a lot, mostly Costa Rican scenery, and particularly the sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. I had cigar boxes made for me to frame these paintings, and recently I have been creating collages with pieces that go together.
CK: Who is the grinning lady on your tags?
We were in Costa Rica one summer and met an Oaxacan artist whose family members were weavers in a rural town nearby. He took us there to show us how blankets were woven and how the wool was combed by hand. The old lady on the tag is the artist’s 97-year-old aunt who only spoke the Zapotec Indian language. To communicate with her we needed a Spanish translator who spoke that indigenous language to translate into English. We wanted a photo of her before we left and just when we were driving away, we spotted her washing clothes in a creek and pulled over to snap a shot with her. We loved her leathery hands holding a Jimmy'Z T-shirt and thought it was cool to show the original stone wash.
CK: Do you have a favorite place to get away from it all?
We usually go to Costa Rica three months out of the year. When we’re there I like to go out at dawn into the ocean and swim 50-feet out. I paint while I’m there and build huts with materials we find. They're biodegradable so they won’t leave a footprint.
CK: What are your favorite surf spots around Malibu?
Well, there’s Topanga State and Malibu State but you need to know what you’re doing out in the water or else the locals won’t be happy with you.
CK: Favorite place to get a drink in LA?
: Las Perlas on 6th and Main in Downtown LA for Mezcal
CK: Favorite place to get a bite to eat?
French dip sandwiches at Cole’s French Dip on 6th and Main—across from Las Perlas
Images by Christina Kim
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