By Michael Miller
1:35 PM PST, November 5, 2013
Lian Murray, an influential surf clothing designer whose career encompassed such high-end brands as Hurley, Quiksilver and Billabong, died Sunday at the age of 54.
The Newport Beach resident died at Hoag Hospital several days after suffering an asthma attack, said her daughter, Morgan Murray.
In a career spanning three decades, Murray launched her first apparel company, Lianelyse, while on summer vacation from college and opened a store in Los Angeles. At a trade show, she met Quiksilver founder Bob McKnight and joined his company as a designer.
After later stints at Mossimo and Billabong, Murray served as creative director for Hurley, the Costa Mesa-based company that began in 1999 and has become a world-renowned brand and sometime sponsor of the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.
Murray, who met founder Bob Hurley when they worked together at Billabong, followed him when he left to start the company. She went on to design both men's and women's lines.
"It makes me feel really proud, still, to this day, when I see people wearing a Hurley shirt," Morgan Murray said. "I just stop and I think to myself, 'Wow. My mom started that company, pretty much.' And it just makes me really proud."
Bob Hurley could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but the website Shop-Eat-Surf.com posted a statement in which he praised Murray as an innovator.
"As far as I recall, she was one of the first to introduce low-rise pants for guys and girls, studs on garments, unfinished hems and was the inventor of the patented Velcro-less fly on boardshorts," the statement read. "Lian was a genius at color and how it fits in the context of pop culture for the season."
Murray, whom OC Weekly dubbed "Hurley's Top Girlie" in a 1999 profile, played entrepreneur again several years ago when she launched the apparel brand Aqua VI.
Her daughter, who said Murray sometimes sewed one-of-a-kind clothes for her children, noted that adventure defined her outlook on life.
"She was just such a believer," Morgan Murray said. "Any crazy idea we had, or dream, she was always going to back us up 100%. One time, I told her that I wanted to move to Costa Rica and open a restaurant and live on the beach, and she told me, 'Go. Do that.'
"I could count on my hand how many times I've seen her upset. She always just had such a positive outlook on everything, and she would always find good things through the bad."
A public memorial for Murray is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday at L Street Beach in Newport Beach. The family has requested that no one in attendance wear black.