Didn’t Billabong and Quiksilver just create and popularise the surf trunk worldwide?

Billabong (founded 1973) swung into life a few years after Quik but their master, Gordon Merchant, a shaper-inventor and beautiful surfer, was quick to provide surfers with a trunk that gripped the hips and didn’t spray the thighs with rash. Forty years on, Billabong still got game and they take the process of building trunks as seriously as you’d expect...

STAB: Talk me all the way through the construction process, who touched ‘em, who worked on ‘em, how long it took, everything...
BEAU: The whole process took close to eight weeks. And most of the techniques we used were done for the first time, completely experimental. These trunks passed through six hands, all in Oz. The bleaching of the denim took the longest as it was done purely by sun, saltwater and lemon juice which was applied every day for five weeks to achieve the bleach affect. This process dates back to the old egyptians. That was one of the biggest gambles. With so many uncertainties something could have gone terribly wrong. It actually turned out better than expected in look and feel. In that same time, the concept art was created and an artist executed it by hand. Applying the art was the test ‘cause I still wanted the original hand-done look. We tried having the artist paint direct to fabric, but it bled and when dry became very stiff. Long story short, we ended up printing direct to fabric with a large-format digital printer. I wanted these to be functional trunks, not just a show piece. Working with the pattern maker, we had the tailor make a proto-trunk from plain calico ‘cause we had no room or fabric for error. I made some alterations and reduced the leg opening and perfected some of the internal finishes. It took three working days to cut, sew and trim one pair of trunks. And, tadah! The Pleasure Town trunk was born.

Wanna give me a little juice on the lil things that may not be immediately apparent on the page? Denim is such a timeless fabric. The bleaching process showed so many characteristics from dark to light, streaky and patchy, even pulp imperfections. I wanted to showcase them all and have that special unique, ‘one off ’ and ‘hand-made’ trunk. Every single panel, waistband and bind I hand-picked. From the bleached fabric, laying down the paper patterns and pinning it all into position. Twas no mistake that the waistband and binds where were cut from a darker shade of the denim. Adding the fabric mixing helped to break and soften all the denim and I also wanted the trunk to look as good on the inside as the out. It was all about premium finishes, from the mini-gingham internal bind-seams to the hand-spun tips on the drawcord. What I wanted out of this was the opposite from my usual day to day. I wanted to get my hands on and involved in every process, big, small, basic and hard. It’s a satisfying feeling when you succeed outside your comfort zone.