The Beginning | History of Straight Down

Straight Down got its start in two places that golfers try to avoid, the water and the sand. But the company’s origins explain why today we create versatile products that can quickly transition from the course to wherever your next adventure may take you.

Straight Down was founded in San Luis Obispo, an idyllic coastal community in California, and we like to think that the town's unique ethos has had a strong influence on our brand. Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo offers the best of what California has to offer, with picturesque beaches just miles from scenic mountain hikes. Thriving wine and agricultural industries contribute to the town’s appreciation of the outdoors.

Our founder, Mike Rowley, got an unexpected start in the clothing industry while serving as San Luis Obispo High School’s head water polo coach from 1986 to 1988. When his team hosted the Junior Olympics, Rowley’s design for the Tigers’ T-shirt was so successful that it got him thinking about starting a company of his own.

His dream became a reality, and, like so many successful and innovative companies, it began in a garage. Making T-shirts for Beach Volleyball Monthly served as the inspiration for the company’s name, as “Straight Down” refers to the spiking of a volleyball. Straight Down’s product line quickly expanded to shorts and windbreakers that featured the bold, neon colors that were popular at the time.

 Growth came organically for the new company, with exposure coming at surf show booths, trade shows and beach stores. While we may have moved on from the highlighter shades of the ‘80s, those early days set the stage for today’s success. We still focus on bold patterns and colors, and making shorts, pants and outerwear that are suited for a wide variety of outdoor activities.

We’ve transitioned from selling our wares at surf shops to some of the finest clubs in the country, as well as on our website, which, of course, wasn’t even a figment of Mike’s imagination when he began. After those early years, the company would soon make a foray into another sport that Mike is passionate about, golf… 

3 comments

How did your Mammoth Mt. days go.

Rick July 29, 2022

Great start to a story. Can’t wait for the rest!

Kathy July 29, 2022

Got my first straight down shirt at
Ko’olina golf course. Love it I get positive comments all the time.

Tom July 28, 2022

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