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Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Other than swim trunks, I do not wear shorts.  I cannot, therefore, recommend or otherwise comment on any not-swim-trunks shorts product.  Please note, however, that all of the below-discussed swim-trunks makers also manufacture a full line of shorts.

Birdwell Beach Britches:  Birdwell designs and manufactures California surfer shorts in Santa Ana, California.  They are simple.  They are durable.  They are classic.

Image result for body glove shortsBody Glove: Redondo Beach-based Body Glove claims that its founders used insulation from the back of a refrigerator to invent "the first practical wetsuit."  I have no idea whether that's true.  But I have worn enough of Body Glove's offerings over the years to trust them to provide me with a solid surfing-related product at a fair price. 

Pangea Swimwear: Los Angeles-based Pangea makes reasonably priced, well-cut men’s swim trunks with eye-catching prints.  I own two pairs.  Warning!  These shorts shrink if put through the dryer – hang dry only!

Volcom: Orange County-based Volcom is a one-stop shop for skater/surfer/snowboarder fashion, from board shorts and streetwear shorts to two-piece suits.  Because they target skaters – who shred clothes quickly, no matter how high quality – I did not expect Volcom to put much effort into the second-thing-to-go elements of clothing construction.  After all, why double-stitch a garment that’s going to be rags within weeks regardless?  But I was pleasantly surprised.  A few years back, I bought a Volcom button-up. It was a good purchase.  The shirt had a clean silhouette, but with slightly skewed seams that bent people’s eyes just enough to prevent them from looking past me.  And – because I do not lead a tear-through-fabric lifestyle – it lasted for years.

Image result for chubbies shorts
Chubbies: San Francisco-based Chubbies makes well-cut swim trunks with anti-fashion prints for the Weekend At Bernie’s crowd.  At first, Chubbies only made crazy-print shorts that I never could picture myself wearing.  Their Weekend Love exuberance kept me returning to their site, however, and now they’ve added some more dignified offerings.

Patagonia: With Ventura-based Patagonia, you get what you pay for.  What you pay is a lot.  What you get is exactly what you want.  Patagonia’s gear and clothing looks great, it works perfectly, and it is manufactured as ethically and sustainably as reasonably possible.  I do not yet own any Patagonia swimwear.  But my family and I do own a wide cross-section of Patagonia clothing and gear, all of which may very well last me forever.  

Mountain Hardwear: Richmond-based Mountain Hardware has been my go-to supplier for camping-and-backpacking clothing and gear for more than a decade.  They do not make swim trunks.  But they do make climbing/hiking/backpacking/travel shorts, which would work well for swimming. 

North Face: Alameda-based North Face makes pretty much everything an outdoors-enthusiast could want, including a few swim trunks, and many shorts which are designed for hard use and fast drying.

Chrome: When I lived in the real Bay Area (i.e., the Bay Area in which you can see the Golden Gate and/or Bay Bridge with minimal effort), Chrome was the most ubiquitous brand of messenger bags and backpacks.  Now, they've expanded their line to include everything a bike-messenger-type urbanite needs for day-to-day living, including shorts.
BedHead Pajamas: Los Angeles-based BedHead specialize in making fashionable, tailored pajamas for men, women, and children.  They also make some unique-looking board shorts.  

Olivers Apparel: Los Angeles-based Olivers makes exercise and streetwear clothes for runners and gym-goers.  Their offerings include shorts perfect for those of us who like to conclude a run by jumping straight into the pool.

7 For All Mankind: Los Angeles-based 7 For All Mankind makes the streetwear that Hollywood stars are wearing in paparazzi photographs.  I own a wine-colored pair of 7FAMK’s Luxe Performance Sateen pants. They fit well, the fabric is comfortable against my skin, and they make me slouching loll like Johnny Thunders.  7FAM also sells slim-cut, knee-length jeans shorts. 

DSTLD: Los Angeles-based DSTLD is an online-only, direct-to-consumer designer and seller of denim and chino shorts.  

American Apparel: So here's the thing about Los Angeles-based AA: It's well made, and it looks great on the people who it looks great on.  For everyone else, AA seems designed specifically to highlight the ways in which it does not look great on them.  Don't know which category you fall into?  Well, the folks around you do.  Ask someone you trust if you're one of the people who AA designs its clothes to fit.  If the answer is yes, then lucky you -- you have a one-stop shop for relatively inexpensive, ethically manufactured, long-lasting basics.  If the answer is no, walk away from this brand forever. 

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