The history of Quiksilver boardshorts started with an idea around about 50 years ago . They have been at the height of surf fashion and performance ever since. Come with us on an amusing whistle stop tour through the decades.
The ‘70s were simpler times in terms of boardshorts. Most people had one pair and wore them in the sea, on the beach, at home, in the pub, at work, swimming, surfing, drinking, sleeping… In some cases boardies had to be surgically removed from groms who put them on at the start of summer holidays and forced into normal clothes at the end of them.
“I got my first pair of Quiksilver boardshorts in 1970 and I remember thinking they were revolutionary. They made surfing in boardshorts a pleasure.”
Revolutionary, back then, meant a waistband that fit right and a scallop design to prevent them from getting hung up on your thighs every time you did a turn.
I got to pick my own colors and they would custom make them to my design. I wasn’t sponsored, but I wore them because I loved them. They may look a bit short and tight by today’s standards, but that was the height of fashion back then.
So, there you go. Boardshorts in the ‘70s. They rode high and they fit tight. They were one color…
well, sometimes two or three.
Boardshorts in the ‘80s took a sharp turn from the modest days of the ‘70s. New styles was born, in terms of both surfing and surf fashion in all its neon glory. A new breed of professional surfers was spawned. Until then, the only people making money were the ones winning contests, marked the first time people could make a career out of getting photos ran in surf magazines. Thus, the “photo pro” was born.
In terms of style, Echo Beach ushered in a new era of boardshorts. Nobody had time for predictability — especially not Danny Kwock – a flashy Newport Beach ripper. He introduced a style of boardshort that defied the very concept of boring. They featured colors bright enough to blind the sun, lengths that avoided the knee like a plague, tight fittings and patterns that were half pop, half art and all in your face. With polka-dot Quiksilver boardies tearing the hell out of small waves on a short polka-dot board he was all over the US mags.
What was so remarkable about the whole Echo Beach thing was that it grew out of a bunch of young people having fun and being creative about their personal style, it was colorful and fun, and it was all centered around making people happy. That’s what surfing is all about.
Oh, the ‘90s. When neon died and grunge was born. Cool time, right? Maybe not.
It wasn’t about how cool you were, nobody was trying to be anybody or anything like that. It was all about being yourself and owning it.
Sometimes being yourself and owning it meant growing your hair long and getting a tattoo. Sometimes it meant surfing as fast as you could and turning the volume up to 12. Sometimes it meant wearing boardshorts so long you’d forget you had knees. What was that all about?
I remember boardies kept on getting longer and longer and longer, and they’d get more and more and more uncomfortable as it went along.
I think they went from being so short you’d be falling out of them in the ‘80s to being so long you’d catch your knees on them and trip over yourself in the ‘90s. It went from too short to too long!
Too short to too long. Too bright to too dark. Too loud to too subtle. So on and so forth. There was a certain beauty hidden in all the drastic diversity of the ‘90s. And, if any of it proves anything, it’s that sometimes the in-between moments are when everything seems to feel just right.
Indeed, it was not. Out with the below-the-knee, loud and lucid prints of the ‘90s. In with the more refined aesthetic of the 2000s. It was also time to really focus on technology. And why not? We had, after all, survived Y2K. Fashion wise, there was a lot of deja vu.
Boardshorts had finally been around for long enough to start drawing inspiration from the past. You could look back and move forward at the same time! Take, for example, Slater’s Star Trunks. Design wise, those infamous boardies were only slightly different from a pair that 1978 World Champion Rabbit Bartholomew had been digging decades ago — they were simply reinterpreted with modern materials. New or not, they certainly became a piece of Slater’s stardom especial the they feature in “Kelly Slater Black and White.”
Beyond that, most designs were relatively simple. Patterns. Shapes. Stripes. More patterns. There was no time to fuss with creating a generation defining style. This was a new millennium. This was the era of technology.
And so the 2000s spawned some new boardshort fabrics. Stretch became king and Quiksilver came out with Diamond Dobby — a raised inner lining that eliminated rash by exposing you to 30% less
fabric. Welcome to the future. Make yourself comfortable — literally.
Which brings us to now. Boardshorts are no longer just for surfing. They’re for going, doing, eating, drinking, sleeping, living. They’re for anytime, everywhere. And since you’re so busy, you need two things: style and comfort.
So where does it go from here? True to the original vision means mixing style and innovation. It means creating generation defining designs and using materials that are more comfortable than anything you’ve felt before. It means fusing performance with art and art with performance — that’s what this decade is all about.
Everybody is going to keep pushing each other. There’s going to be a lot more progression with materials and construction, and of course they have to look really good.