Sartorial historians might date swim shorts’ history back to a balmy day in 1971 in Saint Tropez when a young itinerant motoring journalist by the name of Fred Prysquel, in the throes of some romantic endeavour, became self-conscious of the tight trunks so popular at the time. The alternatives he made for himself, based on what surfers in Borneo and Australia were wearing, became one of the brands featured below, Vilebrequin.
Things have clearly moved on over almost five decades: and if you’re not in the market for a bespoke pair (Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson offers a huge variety of colours and designs in wool, linen and cotton fabrics for around £1,400), then these are our pick of the bunch.
Embroidered Swimming Shorts, by Vilebrequin
What has Serge Gainsbourg’s Sous le Soleil Exactement got to do with the pair of turtle-embroidered swimmers from the Saint Tropez swimwear brand? Well, Roland Helory – Vilebrequin’s custodian since he became its CEO in 2012 – has said that the quirkily smooth ditty is the perfect encapsulation of the brand’s “irreverencia”. Check it out on YouTube before taking a dip in these.
£430. Available from vilebrequin.com
Light Blue Swimming Shorts, by Trunk Clothiers
If more of a straight-forward, Connery’s Bond-style look appeals, we recommend this pair from the ultra-cool Marylebone boutique. Made from Portuguese fabric, and coming in a variety of colours, they feature a full mesh lining, rear pocket with secure zip closure and internal key/coin pocket.
£95. Available from trunkclothiers.com
Printed swim shorts, by Orlebar Brown x The Setai Hotel
Tongues are wagging about Orlebar Brown’s 007 shorts at the moment, but we’re equally enamoured with the British brand’s striking collaboration with the famous Miami Beach hotel – a pair of limited-edition swim shorts featuring the hotel’s three iconic infinity pools.
$375 (£290). Available from Orlebar Brown’s two Collins Avenue stores on South Beach, The Setai Gallery Shops and Bal Harbour
Tidal Faded Denim shorts, by Frescobol Carioca
A brand that likes to evoke the Tropical Belle Époque, for Summer 2019 Frescobol Carioca has chosen to expand its popular Paisagem collection with pieces (see also main pic) inspired by the curving loops of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx’s sketching style. These classic swim shorts in faded denim, for us, hit their inspiration’s aesthetic notes square on the nose.
£155. Available from frescobolcarioca.com
Aquarium Draw Cord Swim Shorts, by Dunhill
Anyone ever seen those Dunhill lighters from the post-war years, carved from Perspex and bearing nature-inspired patterns? Thanks to the amount of time the house’s Creative Director Mark Weston spends poring over the brand’s archives, we have at our disposal the stunning swim shorts collection seen below, also featuring birds and fish on patterned lounge shirts, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the lighters being launched.
£250. Available from dunhill.com