Lian Murray

Lian Murray, 54, an innovator in surfwear design, has died at 54. (Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times / September 13, 1998)

Lian Murray

Surf clothing designer

Lian Murray, 54, an innovator in surfwear design who helped build the Hurley brand to prominence in the field, died Nov. 3 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, several days after suffering an acute asthma attack, said her mother, Elyse Lewin. Murray had suffered from asthma since she was a child, Lewin said.

"She created trends and avoided fads," said Bob Hurley, founder of the company, in a statement. He said that her designs included low-rise pants and unfinished hems. And she broke with tradition by developing a fly closure for board shorts that did not use Velcro.

"She was a genius at color and how it fit in the context of pop culture of the season," Hurley said.

Murray was born Lian Lewin on Feb. 8, 1959, in Santa Monica. Her father, Robert Lewin, was an Oscar-nominated screenwriter who also wrote for numerous television shows. Her mother was a photographer whose work appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Murray graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor's degree in psychology. But before she finished school, she created her first clothing line. In the 1980s she joined the Quiksilver surfwear company, founded by Bob McKnight. "She always had that rare ability to foresee and make exactly what young people wanted and looked good in," McKnight said in a statement.

After about a decade at that firm, Murray worked at the Mossimo fashion company before joining Costa Mesa-based Hurley in the late 1990s. That brand became one of the hottest in surf wear, and was bought by Nike Inc. in 2002.

Because Murray had an ownership stake in Hurley at the time of the sale, she was able to eventually leave the company and establish a home in Hawaii, her mother said. But because Murray missed the creative side of the business, she started a new brand, Aqua VI, in 2008, also in Costa Mesa.

Times staff and wire reports

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