Stab Magazine | The Stab Boardshort Rule Book - with Rama Mccabe, O’Neill

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The Stab Boardshort Rule Book – with Rama Mccabe, O’Neill

The first rule? The word trunks sounds so much better than boardies. So wordly! So surf! Apart from that little aural aside, we asked a dozen of the world’s best surfwear designers for their take on this, the most precious item, in our summer wardrobe. Scroll down for the answers… Stab: How long have you been […]

style // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The first rule? The word trunks sounds so much better than boardies. So wordly! So surf! Apart from that little aural aside, we asked a dozen of the world’s best surfwear designers for their take on this, the most precious item, in our summer wardrobe. Scroll down for the answers…

Stab: How long have you been designing trunks? As far as jobs go, how is it? You like? Detest? What kind of hours do you keep? 

Rama: Its creeping up to seven years now. Time to move on, I know, but I’m addicted to the things! The only part that I wouldn’t miss is that most of your pay cheque is coming from the sale of 22” boardshorts that will probably never see the open ocean or be pressed against a surfboard. My working day varies on what period of the range we are in. The early design stage is pretty relaxed but when it comes down to the wire and you’re trying to get the designs to the sweat shop things can become a little more intense. All-nighters have been part of the menu in the past, but I hope to never see the sun come up at work again.

What gives you a thrill in the office? We just moved into a new space and set up a little table tennis arena. It’s always a thrill to sneak out the back door and whack a couple sets of pong to release a little case of the deadline blues.


What are the fundamental rules of trunk design? It starts with a measurement that lets the hem hang above the knee. Around the middle it’s always satisfying to have a cute little print on a fabric that isn’t going to rub your knees off. To finish it, I am pretty addicted to internal details to keep the wearer tantalised even after taking the little things off.
Whose trunks, apart from your own, y’diggin? Lorinza do a very forgiving leopard print volley that are a must, if the winter months have been not so kind on the old waist line. Also, Maui and Sons’ collab range with Opening ceremony. If you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with some yacht-owning, Moet-drinking, middle-aged men Ralph Lauren always have some killer colours to suit any summer outfit.

Do you have a design signature? I’m all about the details whether it be in the fabric, trims or fits. I want the customer to feel like they have just purchased a personally tailored pair of trunks. Each time they are worn, you discover a new detail that brings you back for more.

Leg lengths: What works? There is a customer for all lengths but above the knee is by far the most practical whether you’re doing a Jordy Smith waft or sitting at a café trying to impress the cute Filipino girl sitting across from you. What’s popular? From all the well-tanned knee caps out there it seems the 20” trunk is a crowd pleasing happy medium between the ankle war

mers of the 90s and the very revealing trunks of the past few years.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each length:  I can’t really see a disadvantage to above the knee boardshorts. The things are so versatile in and out of the soup. When it comes to be

low the knee there are a couple of advantages, like covering up your chicken legs, but I think the risk of looking like you haven’t been to the beach in 10 years and still think that wearing these horrible things looks “killer” far outways the positives.

Do you have a favourite fabric?  The past few ranges I have been using a polyester-based fabric called Poly Taslon. This weave gives you the ability to use washes that traditionally could only be achieved when working with a fabric that has a cotton content.

A hypothetical: you’re designing the ultimate pair of trunks, with no cost consideration nor retail concern, what would you make? A pair of leopard print volleys. Comfort with a little bit of flair.

Y’travel for inspiration? Where do you go? Travelling for a little design stimulation is the highlight of the job. Most of us do the usual trek for boardshort influnces: a little LA, a bit of Tokyo and hopefully a lot of Bali, so you can sneak in a few shred sled sessions between shopping expeditions. To be honest, I get more out of a few days with a factory in some crap city in China then I do from a week mincing around Hollywood, Venice and Huntington.

Why snaps or a string?  Snaps always look like a dream but unless you’re a perfect size, they are going to be down by your knees after every duck-dive. String is an easy choice, but I think ditch them both and slip into some elastic waist numbers.

Of all the offshore factories, who makes the best trunks? China?  Bangladesh? India? Indonesia? And, if trunks were made in Australian Factories, what would be the string, price-wise? China have been the masters of boardshort wizardry for years, but with the labour shortages in the country, manufacturing in Australia could be a real option in the future. If this does happen, remember to take out a second mortgage on your house before swinging into your local surf store because the price tag will have a sting.

Who or what is the biggest influence in trunk design? 
For prints and cuts, smaller brands are leading the way but it is quite obvious that stretch is a huge part in the market at the moment. This area of boardshort design is being dictated by Hurley and O’Neill.

What’s the best pair of trunks you’ve ever designed that didn’t make it past the sampling stage? Last year when I was in Shibuya, I stumbled across probably the most perfect pair of boardshorts. They were a pair of 17” leopard print volleys by Lorinzo. I slipped into these things on the spot and didn’t take them off the entire summer! To spread my happiness and make the leopards live longer I scanned a leg panel and printed them on an O’Neill pair of trunks. To my dismay, I think we sold a grand total of one. Obviously, the Australian market doesn’t share my love for some leopards rapped around your stumps. -Derek Rielly


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