The RL Q&A: Kiron Jabour

The North Shore native and professional surfer on the world’s best breaks, his style icons, and shooting with his surfer-turned-model wife

Kiron Jabour isn’t just a handsome face in the latest Polo Ralph Lauren collection—he also happens to rank among the best surfers in the world. The 29-year-old pro picked the sport up from his dad, who moved the family from their native Brazil to Hawaii when Kiron was still a baby. “What better place to grow up surfing?” he says. “Falling in love with the ocean was just a part of the lifestyle.”

Though these days he lives in Portugal with his wife, Leila De, a surfer, model, fellow Hawaiian, and a regular in Polo’s women’s campaigns (including this one alongside her husband), and their twin daughters, that doesn’t keep Jabour from hitting the waves.

For Polo’s summer collection, he modeled amid the breaking waves and bohemian homes of the California coast—and, once the cameras wrapped, told us a little about his lifelong journey to the ocean.

So, Kiron, how was the shoot?

It was a ton of fun, and definitely the biggest shoot I’ve ever been a part of. Leila and I have been together since before she started modeling for Polo—which is such a timeless and classic brand—and I’ve heard about all the great people she’s met and experiences she’s had. But I was nervous, because I’m not a model. Once I got to the beach, though, I was surprised at how relaxed and amazing everyone and everything was. Once things started rolling, I felt totally relaxed.

Who are some of your style icons, and what do you like to wear when you’re not surfing?

I’m a pretty classic guy. I felt really comfortable in all the clothes I shot in. But I’m no Evan Mock. For inspiration, I grew up idolizing all the surfers around me, like the Irons brothers, Andy and Bruce. And Kelly Slater, of course, and Rob Machado, who always seemed like a stylish guy to me.

You’re 29 now, and one of the best surfers on the planet. Was there a certain age growing up when it all clicked for you?

Surfing was just a hobby until I got into my teens and started competing. All of my friends from the North Shore were competing from age 5 or 6. I started later. When I was around 12, I saw that there was a contest at my home break in Haleiwa and knew I wanted to try it out. I ended up doing well, so afterwards I thought ‘Ok, well, that was rad! Let’s keep trying this.’ I started winning competitions, got sponsored, and just fell in love with the whole world of competitive surfing.

What do you love most about it?

Scoring good waves with my friends and the whole lifestyle around that, waking up early before it’s even light out, looking at the forecast and knowing that the waves are going to be great that day, talking to all of my buddies about what the waves will be like—especially when it’s the big ones, like pipelines and outer reefs and jaws.

Being healthy, being by the beach, being with my friends who are all driven to catch bigger and bigger waves together—I love everything about it. I feel very connected to nature, floating in this huge ocean that’s so beyond the scope of everything else. It’s almost like meditating, or practicing yoga. That connection is such a huge part of my life.

Do you have a favorite time to surf?

I love being the first guy out in the water. Especially if I know that I’m scoring when everyone else is still asleep. The world is calm, the waves are all yours, and you can see all the sea life. It’s an incredible feeling.

What are some of your favorite breaks?

All of North Shore, especially Pipe—I grew up idolizing that spot. Teahupoo in Tahiti. And there’s this spot in Namibia called Skeleton Bay that has probably the best waves I’ve ever surfed. It’s like nothing else. You’re in this huge desert, driving through sand dunes to get to the ocean. It’s a trip.

Andrew Craig is the men’s concept editor for Ralph Lauren.
  • © Ralph Lauren Corporation
  • Courtesy of Kiron Jabour