Over the past 30-odd years, if you wanted a pair of Sundek trunks – the go-to baggies for soul surfers since 1958 – you had to cross the Atlantic. That's because the San Francisco clothier, after years of internal conflict and mismanagement, closed its domestic operations and licensed its brand to an Italian corporation that exclusively distributed in western Europe. But bless our surf wax, you don't need to summer in Saint-Tropez any longer to make waves in these authentic left-coast britches.
Our favorite pair, pictured above, are an exercise in minimalist restraint. Unlike most of the line, which fold a bold tricolored arch around your rear, these wrap that trademark, subtly, around the waste. And true to most Sundek swim shorts, these are free of rope ties and elastic bands – instead, a hidden Velcro fly. That seems commonplace now, but it was pioneering when Sundek introduced it in the early 1960s (when its competitors were still using finicky zippers, which were subject to constant abuse from the ocean's corrosive salt water). The dual-ply nylon is triple stitched (for guaranteed durability out on the line) and dries quickly, so you won't leave a trail of salt water behind you while cruising the cocktail hour circuit.
Sure, these baggies sit high – eight inches above the knee to be exact – but don't shy away too quickly. After all, this is the look that guys like Ken Bradshaw, Kelly Slater, and the late Mark Foo made famous in the early eighties. So whether you're a toes-on-the-nose kind of guy (or a laid-back, rum-in-hand beach bum), you can pair the navy trunks with a gray tank top and Ray Ban Clubmasters for a classic ensemble. [$130; shopsundek.com]