May 17, 2023 3 min read
May 4th, 2023
Severson Originals Looks Back to Move Forward
One of San Clemente’s most established surfing families opens a new storefront celebrating surfing’s past, present and future
In the 1930s, a Los Angeles-based traveling auto parts salesman named Hugh Severson was passing through San Clemente and became enchanted by the sleepy Spanish Village by the Sea.
Moving his family to town in 1945, Hugh settled into a slower pace of life and found work at a gas station on the corner of El Camino Real and Avenida Aragon. Meanwhile, the ocean called to his three sons, John, Joe and Jim.
Lifeguards, surfers and artists, they wove themselves into the fabric of the early San Clemente surf scene. Their timing couldn’t have been better. Things were about to explode, as Hobie opened his shop and Bruce Brown released his early movies, both just up the road in Dana Point.
Seizing on the moment, John would famously launch Surfer magazine in 1960. Inspiring generations of surfers, the magazine provided countless wave-riders, writers, photographers, artists and other passionate creative types a platform to showcase their talent.
Over time, the publication would come to be known as the “bible of the sport.”
More than a half-century after Surfer first hit newsstands, the Severson name is once again front and center in San Clemente. This weekend, the new surfwear brand Severson Originals is officially opening its doors in town.
Located at 207 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, the grand opening celebration will take place on Saturday, May 6, from 4-7 p.m.
Launched by brothers Benji and Dan Severson, nephews of John and sons of Joe, the brand is inspired by the ocean, the timeless artwork of the family and those classic surf vibes they’ve been perpetuating for so long.
“It was just one of those things; my brother and I decided if we didn’t do this now, we never were going to do it,” explains Benji, who also serves as the president of the San Clemente Board Riders. “We had so much original artwork from my dad; my brother’s a photographer and graphic designer, and I’ve been working with brands all my career. It felt like this was something we had to do.”
Severson Originals first got off the ground with small orders, sold at iconic surf shops including Hobie in Dana Point and Harbour in Seal Beach. The brand’s aesthetic is on point with T-shirt art being eye-catching and surfy, but still sophisticated and classy.
Offering a variety of hoodies and sweatshirts, there’s a style for everyone—the “Dana Point” hoodie is especially rad if you call the area home. One of the brand’s taglines is “products you love to wear,” and that certainly seems to be the case.
The new shop on North El Camino Real is the next big step for Benji and Dan. With such deep local roots and a history of being at the forefront of surfing’s trends and styles, Severson Originals is a welcome addition to our local retail offerings and is sure to be an immediate hit.
“We’re really excited, and a little nervous, to be opening the new space,” Benji admits. “You have to believe in what you’re doing when you sign that lease, but we’re betting on ourselves and feel great about it.”
As far as aspiring surf companies go, it absolutely couldn’t be any more homegrown than Severson Originals. If you love wearing their products, you can feel even better supporting an up-and-coming local business.
Pure surf and stoke, the sky’s the limit for Benji and Dan—and it couldn’t all be happening to a better, more deserving family.
Jake Howard is a local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. A former editor at Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, today he writes for a number of publications, including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.