History of Boardshorts

Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit
Exhibition at Honolulu Museum of Art
July 12 2012 – January 13, 2013

Hawai‘i’s unofficial uniform is the boardshort—a perfect fit for the birthplace of surfing. Boardshorts in Hawai‘i were initially created as custom-made surf trunks by tailors at popular venues such as the H. Miura Store in Hale‘iwa, Take’s in Waikīkī, or M. Nii’s in Mākaha during the 1950s. These early boardshorts were first designed for fit and comfort, maximized for the ultimate wave-riding experience. Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit, chronicles the fascinating evolution of a single, simple garment that today is a symbol of extreme sports and a counterculture lifestyle.

Historic photographs and vintage film footage of early waveriders, fast-forwarded to clips of contemporary competitive surfers, will set the stage for what has become a graphic expression of style. From cotton twill to nylon canvas to stretch polyester, boardshort fabrics were dictated by a need for speed, comfort, flexibility and durability in surviving unforgettable pounding surf and epic waves. The line up included palaka, plaids, Hawaiian print florals, skulls, sharks, solids or stripes ablaze in a spectrum of color palettes marking the current trends of the day. Coconut buttons, grommets, snaps and Velcro® closures, along with triple-stitched seams have been transformed with the newest technology in a move to a more dynamic, lightweight, sleeker profile with innovative fused seams and trademarked water-repellent finishes.

Nostalgically remembered as surf shorts, bathing suits, swim trunks, bun-huggers, baggies, boardies or Jams, boardshorts are here to stay. Industry giants such as Quiksilver, Billabong and Hurley have revolutionized this trade, which has exponentially exploded on a grand scale in reaching global markets. Whether these were “Made in Hawaii,” “‘Made in the USA” or “Made Abroad,” boardshorts are an intersection of fashion, art, entertainment and athleticism.

*Description from Honolulu Academy of Arts Website.  Find out more here.

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