Dorsal is a new clothing brand created specifically to help efforts being made to research and protect sharks around the world. Dorsal’s distinctive and unique designs not only look great, it gives you the opportunity to help sharks and raise awareness too. The dive hub got in touch with Chris Milnes, the founder & designer of Dorsal to find out more…
What’s the main inspiration behind Dorsal? What’s it all about?
Dorsal was essentially born out of love and exasperation – for sharks and their predicament. I too often felt helpless and overwhelmed by the whole situation so wanted to do my bit to help keep shark research and protection efforts going – 50% of Dorsal profits go to projects. I currently sponsor research projects in South Africa and the Maldives, as well as the UK based Shark Trust, and have recently been contacted by an organization carrying out research whilst tackling finning in Costa Rica, who I will be adding to the list. I have also started up a sister charity called CoExistence, which aims to create its own money rather than receive donations. Its new, and so far I’m selling waterproof stickers of the logo in dive shops for a pound, with the whole pound going into the fund. This covers the wider realm of marine conservation and aims to support communities in their efforts to protect their waters whilst making a living themselves.
Where did the idea for the designs come from?
I got the idea for the name whist volunteering as a Field Research Assistant with the White Shark Trust in South Africa. The primary focus on the boat was to get photos of each shark’s dorsal fin for identification (they are unique). I absolutely loved that job and did it over a period of 2 years so I heard the word ‘dorsal’ a million times whilst also taking thousands of photos of them so my brain was well and truly bombarded – I don’t think I could’ve thought of another name if I tried…other than Monty Python quotes…I heard those a lot aswell.
For the logo design I thought it would be cool to make the word ‘dorsal’ out of dorsal fins so I set about designing a font – I was chuffed to bits when I finally came up with a system to create my own alphabet. The shark part of the logo is based on a white shark for strength and recognition, but designed in a way to reflect that sharks are vulnerable and disappearing. Generally though, I meant for the designs to be accessible to a wider public as well as enthusiasts, and so create awareness in the process.
What are your thoughts on diver’s responsibility to protect the oceans we love to enjoy?
A diver’s responsibilities should be instinctive and acted upon. There is a whole spectrum of ways to help out, from picking up reef/ocean litter during your dive all the way up to….who knows…?!
What’s your top responsible diving tip (apart from buying lots of Dorsal clothing!)
Research and book your trip with an ethically minded dive operator who is active in conservation if you can. On top of your own beautiful behaviour in the short term whilst diving, choosing the right operator will have long term benefits after (and because of) your trip, whilst hopefully weeding out the less scrupulous ones or encouraging them to be more active themselves. Lovely.
On your website you talk about helping the sharks in the area where each customer went diving – can you tell me any more about this idea?
Dorsal Diving is something I’m in the process of setting up but the plan is to donate 100% of profits from the shark dives straight back into shark conservation in the area, so the divers are directly helping to protect the sharks they swim with. The added bonus is that they will probably be amongst the cheapest dives around. There is a lot of theory on this one so I hope I’m not being naïve, but I’m in the midst of it and we’ll see how it goes…!!
Is there anything you want to tell the dive hub readers about?
There is a guy called Daryl Farmer who emailed me recently and is doing a series of insanely huge runs (totalling the length of the Great Barrier Reef) to raise money for shark and coral conservation. Its called Running 4 Reefs and you can find it on Facebook. It’s a mighty effort and if you’re readers could support him and spread the word that would be amazing.
For all the latest news and updates about Dorsal check out the facebook page http://on.fb.me/mHNKVZ and don’t forget to have a look at the website http://www.dorsalclothing.com/ *warning* you will be seriously tempted to splash out on some new kit!!