Olasul boardshorts.

Boardshorts are one of those beach culture fashion categories that have undergone tremendous change since the early 2000’s when everyone was wearing them during the summer months, whether they were at a beach or walking the mall. These were the fat days for brands like Quiksilver and Billabong, among others, when youth culture, especially guys, wouldn’t be caught without a quiver of styles and colors paired with graphic T’s and skate sneaks to complete a summer wardrobe.

As we’ve tracked at Label Networks over the years, styles changed fast in this category, and within 1 year, circa 2003-04 (and starting even slightly earlier), suddenly the boardshorts craze (and corresponding brands leading the charge) started to diminish in leading-edge cities on the East and West coasts, and instead, they became popular pieces for the belly of America, and later, Canada. Not to say that once this happens, the trend is over, but it is an indicator that brands big on the leading-edge scene had better take another look at themselves to check and see if they are trending older (which happened) and where and why new styles and aesthetics were taking place.

Leap-frog to 2011 and we’re still not in the hey-day of boardshorts culture, as most young people prefer to only wear such items at the beach or beach-like locations, pools, rivers, lakes, wakeparks. But there are some styles and brands percolating, and introducing a new generation to another aspect of the iconic boardshorts scene -which has changed as well.

In a not-so-traditional round-up, here are some styles and brands that we think should be noted for Summer 2011.

Based on the surf scene of Peru, Olasul comes with a unique aesthetic and style which corresponds with surf culture in this part of South America. For example, “Ceviche Colorways” are named after the surf team from the Peruvian coast’s favorite after-surf snack. Each boardshorts’ has a story. And Olasul means “wave” and” blue” which together, makes sense for a boardshorts brand.

Peruvian coastal surfer%uFFFDs influences in colors and shorter shorts styles.

As Olasul weaves their story, it goes back to the Viru Valley and the people during Pre-Columbian times who rode the waves there. The first wooden board introduced in the area was in the 1930’s brought from Hawaii, and surfing has since spawned. The brand, created by Lorenz Korder Fort, who was born in San Francisco, but raised in Peru, came from a background of luxury goods, but went back to his roots with Olasul and spends time between his homes in NYC and Lima.

Ceviche Colorways from Olasul.

Like many new apparel companies these days that are involved with beach culture, Olasul leans towards eco-friendly practices using mostly local textiles, fair-trade labor, and Peruvian pima cotton.

Quiksilver%uFFFDs Custom Boardshorts 2011.

Quiksilver’s Custom Board Shorts
A forerunner in the scene of boardshorts, obviously, Quiksilver has been doing several things to regain ground, including their latest innovation of custom board shorts. We went through the process of “building our own” online and it works very well, if you like the selection of colorways, patterns, and styles. They are leaning towards the saturated trend of neon brights, which are very rave/electronica, with some retro patterning such as polka dots (but oversized).

The thing with Quiksilver is their 40-year-history of making a technical pair of shorts, i.e., 4-Way Stretch Diamond Dobby material which means rash-resistant, quick-dry, and super light, so you know that the quality will be there.

The Quiksilver Custom’s go back to their roots of double-snap closures, drawcords (which you can choose your own color), and even the ability to monogram a personal message on the pocket.

Warriors of Radness tribute boardshorts for the Gay and Lesbian Surf Association.

Warriors of Radness
This brand falls in-between coastal heritage (think the Riviera Club) and Lightning Bolt but with an interesting modern twist. They also do apparel, but their recent boardshorts campaign has caught our attention for both the bold statements and subdued sherbet colors and shorter-shorts styles. Their latest, for example, is their dedicated pair for the Gay and Lesbian Surf Association in Pride colors featuring surfer Kyle Robbins. They have a link to Kyle’s likes and favorite surf breaks, but obviously this is not a brand touting the successes of their “pros” at Teahupoo but rather average gay joes that rip on surfboards. Warriors of Radness do a great job of tapping into the post-gender asthetics of today’s youth culture. (It would not be surprising if girls wore WOR also.)

Boardshorts from WOR featured here are the GLSA Ganzer Short.

Patagonia Wavefarer Boardshorts.

Patagonia’s Wavefarer Boardshorts
Patagonia is legendary in making eco-friendly apparel and their boardshorts of course hold the same tradition. What we like about these shorts are their intention for long hikes to secret surf spots, which also means you can wear them for long hikes not to secret surf spots. They also have a low-rise which is rather sexy, and DWR meaning durable water repellent finish which is nice if you’re wearing them at an outdoor concert and it starts to rain. Self-drainage side-zip pocket is also key.

Patagonia Wavefarer featuring geometrics and flower shapes.

We chose these particular patterns because when seen on the Patagonia Surf Ambassadors (they don’t call their team a “pro team” because many don’t compete), they look fantastic. The striped version of Wayfarers especially because they are not that bright and appear more grown-up than some other styles from old-school boardshorts’ brands. They are made for “watermen” if you understand the meaning. However the geometric patterns with flowers, and then the green patterns are excellent crossover styles that appeal to many in a variety of different types of water sports -not just surfing, but also SUP, wakeboarding, and general beach culture activities.

Classic Lightning Bolt campaign.

Lightning Bolt
A favorite of the %u201870’s Lightning Bolt has been back for a couple of years and taking retro surf by storm. Their ad campaigns and marketing are low-key and feature Polaroid type of imagery, and the shorts themselves range from retro style shorter shorts, and longer versions with the ionic black lightning bolt.

Lightning Bolt%uFFFDs lookbook features long and shorter boardshorts submersed in water.

The line is now overseen by Jonathan Paskowitz who grew up with the famed first-family of surfing, so you know it’s going to continue its retro vibe in some regard. And given that the %u201870’s styles are making a huge comeback, brands riding this vibe will be cresting soon, most likely this summer.

Volcom%uFFFDs 3D Gonzo.

Volcom has such a strong connection to music that you can see it clearly in many of their boardshorts styles and colors. It’s like you’re in a band by wearing them at the beach. The 3D Gonzo is a perfect example, (although obviously referencing Gonzo journalism and Hunter S. Thompson).

The Volcom Bruce.

The shorts are 96% nylon, 4% elastane with a 2-way stretch grid-dry construction which means they stretch well and dry fast, but durability may not be a huge strongpoint.

It’s the metallix screenprints that make up for this, if you’re into it. Motocross guys and MMA types, not to mention metalheads and punkers with tatts could easily sport these boardshorts.

The others that we like are the Bruce Irons shorts in orange and black. Again, a bit of the bad-boy elements to them, with a stone mesh side panel. Coming from the Annihilator series, these boardshorts are sure to be a big hit among a crossover of core surfers and those that want to look like a hardcore surfer, ala Bruce Irons.

Billabong traditional stripes.


Long known for producing quality boardshorts, to round-out our untraditional round-up we’re not going to talk about their regular boardshorts, but rather their EFX performance shorts which incorporate holograms strategically positioned to help with performance. They help balance, strength, and flexibility and are quickly becoming a sport-performance aspect for many athletes. The stripes and fades from color to color also emphasize a sense of classic style, but also reflection of nature and summer.

Billabong is one of many boardshorts brands that still carries their logo in large print on the side.