Boardshorts -Definitions for the Clothing & Textile Industry

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are a practical style of men's and, recently, women's, swimwear. They were originally developed for aquatic sports, specifically for surfing, but in more recent years they have grown in popularity outside of these sports, and have become a popular form of general beach and swimwear.

The name of "boardshorts" originates from their affiliation with aquatic sports that use a board, such as surfing. They are sometimes called "boardies" in slang, especially in Australia, and "baggies" in South Africa.

Boardshorts are especially popular in North America and spread beyond surfing especially as the skater punk fashion trend got underway. They are also typically worn in men's beach volleyball. They are less popular in other parts of the world, where other suit styles are preferred.

Use and design

Boardshorts are designed to be quick-drying, and are generally made from smooth polyester (polyester definition) or nylon (nylon definition) material. They are durable and hold up to wear from contact with a surfboard, yet are comfortable and light-weight. They are well-adapted to their use in various active watersports.

Boardshorts do not have an elastic waist like many swim shorts do; instead they have a more rigid waistband which opens at the front, often with a velcro fly. The waistband is also held together at the front with a lace-up tie. This double fail-safe system is in order to ensure that the shorts cannot be not pulled off the body by the force of the wave when a surfer is tumbled under water during a wipeout. Another common feature of authentic surfing boardshort design is a very small pocket sealed with velcro and vented with a grommet. This is designed to be a secure place to carry a car key or house key while in the water.

Boardshorts are normally longer than some shorts or form-fitting speedo styles of swimwear and sometimes they have a baggy appearance. The length of boardshorts varies according to fashion trends; currently they usually reach from the waist to the knee area or slightly above it. Many designs use vibrant color, Hawaiian floral images and highlighted stitching, however not all boardshorts have these features.

Although the basic boardshort design remains largely the same, some manufactures have taken advantage of new technology. Because surfers and other water-sports enthusiasts commonly wear boardshorts without underwear, one of the major complaints has been about the use of velcro for the fly closure which tends to entangle pubic hair. A solution that some manufactures have come up with is to use a neoprene fly, which does not allow the fly to completely open, but provides enough stretch so that the shorts can be easily pulled on and off. Pubic hair does not get caught on the neoprene fly. To remedy another common complaint, about boardshorts stitching in the inseam area which would rub directly against the wearer's skin, many manufacturers switched to a seamless design, or use welding or glue, rather than stitches. Although it is very common for boardshorts to be worn as is, some male wearers prefer to wear boxers, a jockstrap or briefs under them. Some female wearers wear a swimsuit or bikini bottom under them.


Almost all swimsuit manufacturers and many designer brands now produce boardshorts.

However, some companies which have specialized in creating boardshorts for surfers for many years are:

Billabong of Australia, Birdwell Beach Britches of Southern California, Hurley of Southern California, Quiksilver of Australia, Kanvas by Katin of Southern California, Killer Dana of Southern California, Rip Curl of Australia, Surfstitch of Australia, Volcom of the USA, and Motive Boardwear of Florida.

There are even boardshort-specific retailers, which offer an assortment of boardshorts to the surfing and wakeboarding public.


  1. Richard Woolnough (2008). The A to Z Book of Menswear. ISBN 1897403259. 
  2. 2003. Surf's Up: The Girl's Guide to Surfing. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1741142377.

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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (  7/7/09 Modified by Apparel Search.

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