Tag Archives: birdwell

Birdwell Beach Britches:

In 1961, back in the days of Gidget and the Endless Summer, a seamstress named Carrie Birdwell Mann started making and selling swimshorts at her Orange County home. More than 50 years later the company is still in O.C. making pretty much the same thing, and for the most part- only that one thing.IMG_6570

We call them boardshorts. The world knows about boardshorts thanks to Old Navy and Target, but surfers know about boardshorts largely thanks to Birdwell. Mrs. Mann invented the shorts specifically for them.

Not to take away from what Quiksilver, O’neill, or any other surf brand have accomplished, but when it comes to boardshorts, Birdwell is what all of them are trying to be.IMG_6498

Like any responsible adult, the folks at the factory were a little leary of me when I showed up asking questions. But once they determined that, as they put it, “wasn’t up to any weird @*!!” they were more than happy to show me around.IMG_6492The family sold off the business, or as the current owners say “entrusted” them in 2014. Since then, a couple things have changed, while some other significant things have not.

For instance, they started using actual patters.IMG_6489While this may have removed some whimsy from the whole purchasing experience, it did make predicting if the shorts were going to fit a little more reliable.

They also updated the van.IMG_6597And by updated I mean they painted it not fixed the engine, which is why I found it parked comfortably in the factory parking lot.

What they didn’t change were the people working the floor. They have remarkably low turnover and most of the folks sewing the shorts today, are the same folks who sewed them ten years ago.IMG_6494

This might be in part an explanation for what else hasn’t changed, which is that these shorts are nearly bomb proof. I think these shorts are what the authorities use to identify the victims of shark attacks since the shorts are what always survive.

*I said that not them*IMG_6506

It is interesting that in our modern world of fast fashion and quarterly shareholder returns, there can exist a company and brand that survives without attempting to broaden offerings in order to capture market share or lowering quality to widen the margin and spur more turns.

They didn’t do that and they are still right there.IMG_6566

Like I said before, I don’t surf.

But if taking steps past big box mass retail is a sign- I might be on my way.IMG_6594

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A Wish List: tis the season and all that

I am impossible to shop for. Not because I have everything, quite the opposite really, but moreso because I generally know exactly what I want. In the following posts I will be highlighting things I think are worth wanting. Some big, some small.

Some of the things I already have, some I will never have, and others I may eventually obtain but whichever or whatever, the list is to follow.

Examples:

Membership to the Salumi Society with Boccalone.com

g_mixed_cured__91303

Size 35, 301 Navy boardshorts from Birdwell Beach Britches.

301_Navy_F_9ac36491-4292-4307-92df-eb2ef5e1621a_medium

Cotopaxi tent, black canteen, Tikal shell in gray, Nepal pack, and a Cusco bag in “Alpaca”.

tent

A Navy 2 button suit with side vents from Commonwealth Proper. Hook me up Craig.

craig

An authentic, should probably be in a museum sort of thing, samurai helmet.

samurai

DIY wood surfboard kit.

surf

The list goes on and on. I wish (for numerous reasons) I didn’t have such a list… but I do.

Stay tuned

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