Amsterdam - Up until recently, the combination of denim and the ocean was impossible to imagine. No one in their right mind would go swimming in a pair of denim jeans (unless they are looking to break-in a pair of virgin jeans) as once they become wet, they become extremely heavy and stiff and take hours to dry. “Surfers love denim, but we could never wear it at the beach,” said Jan Lindeboom, category manager surf & snow performance at O’Neill. But now all this has changed with the launch of the world’s first denim board shorts, the fruition of a collaboration between O’Neill and denim producer ISKO.
O'Neill and ISKO capture the pioneering spirit in the world’s first denim board shorts
O’Neill could not have found a better timing to launch its first pair of denim board shorts to the world. The two companies came together on the first summer day in Amsterdam, to present the denim board shorts to the world - the same week the denim industry flocked to the city to attend Kingpins. FashionUnited met with Jan Lindeboom from O’Neill and Fabio di Liberto, brand director of ISKO, to learn more about the denim board shorts, which have been two years in the making. “It feels like our child is being born now,” jokes Lindeboom.
The collaboration between the two companies first came about when O’Neill started searching for a way to create a denim garment that could be worn at the beach. “We love denim at O’Neill, but we do not know anything about it. We wanted to bring it to the beach because it is such a large part of everyday life, but it was not possible, or rather had not been done yet.” O’Neill pitched its idea to ISKO, which is widely known for its innovative approach to denim. The partnership between O’Neill and Ikso then came naturally, said di Liberto. “We both suffer from the ‘pioneer syndrome.’ We both want something new, something better.”
“We do not think in terms of what denim can or cannot do”
However the development of the world’s first denim board shorts faced its fair share of ups and downs, admit the two men. Their first idea was to actually make a denim bikini, but in the end it seemed much more logical and natural to develop a pair of board shorts, said Lindeboom. However, the companies had to keep several different areas in mind during the development phase of the board shorts: the design has to be light weight, the board shorts had to hold its shape, yet still be flexible to ensure freedom of movement and the fabric had to be water-repellent.
ISKO already has experience fulfilling several of these requirements - for example, the company developed Blue Skin, a denim fabric which guarantees 100 percent freedom of movement and can always be used for activewear. "We look at what denim means to people," added Di Liberto. "We do not think in terms of what denim can or can not do." In the end, the Blue Skin was used as the starting point for the denim board shorts. The two-year project lead to the denim board shorts unveiled this week. The denim fabric is 50 percent lighter than normal denim fabric and is water-repellent thanks to O'Neill's Hyperdry treatment.
The denim board shorts are available in two colours, washed blue denim and washed black denim. The board shorts retail for 99.99 euros and are now for sale online via O'Neill web shop as well as O’Neill’s retail locations in more than 30 countries. "It is much more a lifestyle item than just an item for surfing," noted Lindeboom and Di Liberto. "People no longer have to think about it. They can put on these shorts in the morning and if they want to surf in the afternoon, then they only have to bring their board. "
“The fabric we make is just an ingredient. Who knows what type of recipe a different brand will this ingredient"
Whether the collaboration will continue with the launch of new products remains to be seen, the two men decline to say. "We are looking at the possibilities to develop more products with this technique, but nothing is certain," said Lindeboom. ISKO could not foresee this being the end result of the collaboration, said Di Liberto. “Now we are thinking why didn’t we do this earlier? But the fabric we make is only the ingredient, O'Neill has come up with the recipe for these shorts. Who knows what kind of recip a different brand will make this ingredient. "
Article was originally published on FashionUnited NL. Edited and translated by Vivian Hendriksz
Photos: Courtesy of O’Neill