Surfing a fashion....
People, this is something I can comment on. I was a passionate Surfer until 1984. At this time other serious sporting interests took over and it was only in 1998 I returned to Surfing, after retiring from my other sport. I am able to look at surfing objectively due to my complete absence of 14 years.
My observations returning to the sport are (were?)....there are good & bad things about where Surfing has gone.
The positive...gear is way better.
1) Wetsuits are so much better now - wetsuits are well designed and actually designed to last, back then they were poorly made, poorly fitting and cold. I don't care how romantic your rose-coloured glasses are, face facts & remember -Wetsuit rashes were a daily pain, as were buggered zips, faded materials and ripped knees.
With modern design & materials, seams don't leak, wetsuits actually fit you properly, they're thinnner, warmer and I can surf longer as a result. And they're (inflation adjusted) way cheaper...
2) Board Design - Boards are so much better now, there is more choice, there are designs specifically made for beginners (hybrids, mini-mals etc) there are boards for guns, there are retro designs, you name it...you can buy it off the rack in a moment - boards are way cheaper (inflation adjusted here guys), and we've learned lots in the ensuing years.
I gather there was a real mid 1990's thing going on with most people on under-volumed & heavily rockered hot-rods that most just "pushed-water" on, but things seem to be swinging back to more common sense designs - for most people.
3) Localism, it's history now - people are more tolerant. I don't know where you live but at the break I grew up near it was a war-zone, this infact actually helped me steer towards another sporting interest, and I was lost to surfing for years as a result. As a young teenager how many times did I get my clothes stolen, my car windows waxed, I saw people getting assulted in the water, beaten on the beachfront, cars torched...you name it. Back then surfing was a basically unfriendly, intolerant, anti-mainstream activity persued by drop-outs, dole-bludgers and nasty types. I never once saw a woman in the line-up, an older man on a mal, nothing other than type "A" w_nkers in the water.
(This is my own personal experience - yours may be different).
Surfing is much more women, teenager, learner and "average guy" friendly than before. Nostalgia is a funny thing - you forget reality.
The bad things...
Most trends now like the current one for Retro boards for example - are just ploys to get you to buy more stuff. Really guys, Fish wern't that good (I own two real ones and can be objective) there are reasons why board design has moved on - have any of you actually ridden a pre 1975 single fin ?? Nope, guessed not. Older surfers know it is to learn from the past & move on - Notice who buys Retro Boards now...why is it no surfers who used the gear first-time around are going back for seconds????
When did surf companies get hijacked by the clothing industry ? I missed that bit. I guess now they sell image & bling to kids who need it, to teenage girlies who've seen some stupid Cameron Diaze (is that how you spell it?) movie & like the idea of surfing..., they've sold their soul. Period.
Mind you, I do like being able to buy a good legrope, for a reasonable price, at a convienant local store....and be served by a pretty young teenager, despite the fact she knows nothing about what she's selling :-)
This never happened back then...
It's only as you get older you understand this stuff.