My entire life, since my first book-full of scratch and sniff stickers, I’ve been an obsessive collector of one kind or another. For a time in college, I collected board shorts and old swim trunks, a peculiar and difficult collection to accrue in rural Indiana. “All the more reason to do so,” I thought. Among all the Sundeks, Hang Tens, and O’Neills, my prized finds are a pair of wool Jantzen shorts with a heavy brass zipper which I’m guessing are pre-war, a Magnum P.I.-styled pair of my father’s Lacoste jams with palm trees, coconuts and airplanes on them, and a hideous print from Quicksilver’s early days. Because Goodwill typically only stocks what’s in season, most of my collecting would happen in the spring. One spring morning – it was a Saturday – I stumbled into the Goodwill in Plainfield, Indiana, and hit the mother load: a pair of kelly green Birdwells that looked and felt brand new, a faded pair of Villebrequin with lobsters on them and a half-inch hole near the crotch, and a pair of canvas Katins. The Kanvas by Katins were the most well-worn of the three, and they were too small for me, but I held onto them. They were red. They were rad. As far as I can tell, they must have been an old pair from Nancy and Walter Katin’s sail shop in Surfside, California. From the little research I was able to do at the time, I learned that as early as 1962, they were using nylon to make these bad boys.
As with most of my vintage finds in college, these ended up in the laundry bin of a sorority house, another treasure lost on the road to winning a girl’s heart. Those Katins were too big for my girlfriend at the time, but she liked how they looked, slung low on her hips. They looked kind of baggy. Hot, but baggy. And because she wore them a lot, I let her keep them. I saw a pair made with nylon, the tag still in tact years later in a well-curated New York vintage shop; they were priced appropriately – high double digits, $50 or $60. I still have the Jantzens, stored away somewhere in my parents’ house, and the others suffered similar fates to the Katins. I think the Birdwells were left to perish on a vacation, hanged in a hotel shower.
The shorts are available at Context Clothing for $106. They come in three colorways: a Beach Clown blue stripe, shore guard yellow, and Baywatch red. They are made in America of top grade nylon, and as with everything Katin makes, these are built to withstand the harshest, gnarliest waves, as well as the tube slide at your local waterpark. They’re a solid investment for summers to come. Or, if like the Partons, you live in the land of the endless summer, these will never leave your sides.You can bet I will be rockin’ the reds all summer long, whether surfing in Montauk, strolling the boardwalk in Long Beach, or barbequeing in Prospect Park. All images c/o Katin USA and Apolis Activism unless otherwise specified.