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DIRECTIONS : FASHION : A Short List of Noteworthy Happenings in the Men's Department

January 21, 1994|WILLIAM KISSEL | Special to The Times


Dirty Hat Tricks

So what if his Miami Dolphins baseball cap is as grimy as the underbelly of a Ford Mustang? Ryan Hurley, 13, of Anaheim, isn't about to send it through the washer and take a chance on a dislocated bill. Or worse, a detached sizing strap. "Besides," he reasons, "grunge is a fashion trend, isn't it?"

Maybe, but not one we usually want to wear on our heads. So Dave Fortney and Hal Finney, two cap collectors from Laguna Niguel, developed a way to clean their hats. They created the Ball-Cap Buddy, a lobster trap-like plastic contraption that gently holds a cap's shape as it spins through the wash cycle.

"Dave saw that his hat was dirty and wanted to figure out a way to wash it without ruining it," explains Doug Bell, whose Sun Gear Marketing Co. in Anaheim placed the $4 product in Target, Sav-on and Wal-Mart. It can also be purchased via Sun Gear, (714) 693-7500.

Although the Buddy has been tested to ensure it won't damage a standard washer, it also easily fits on the top shelf of a dishwasher, which generates less turbulence than the average Maytag.


Shell Shocked

We may be sticking our necks out here, but it seems puka shells are back. Oh, come on, you remember those round, fingernail-size Hawaiian beads that mainlanders appropriated about 1975 and paired with Reyn Spooner floral shirts and OP corduroy shorts.

International Male featured the bleached shell beads in its spring catalogue. Garrett Locker, the clothing chain's catalogue buyer, says what started as a fluke may become a major statement. "It's part of a trend we call the South Seas look," he says.

Stephen Sotnick, a Placentia-based jewelry maker and West Coast puka supplier, says his business has jumped 50% in the past six months, with orders from Millers Outpost and Nordstrom, among others. Incidentally, he says, most of the pukas come from the white sands of Mexico, not Hawaii. "Everyone seems to be interested in these things now, especially young men."

Sotnick's inventory includes necklaces, bracelets and pendants, many in new variations on the old theme. "We've had the most interest in puka's combined with African beads, penn shells, bleached clam shells and heishis (a rough, tortoise-like shell)."

Could reverse-print aloha shirts, like the one from Pendleton shown here accompanying Sotnick's pukas, be far off?


A Dry Idea

If you love the idea of an aquatic workout but can't squeeze a lap pool in your apartment, rejoice. Stanford University's Richard Quick and Skip Kenney, who trained Olympic medalists Summer Sanders and Pablo Morales, and USC's Mark Shubert, who coached superstar Janet Evans, say the Vasa Swim Trainer can be just as effective as a cool dip.

Developed by Williston, Vt.-based Rob Sleamaker, an exercise physiologist and author of "Serious Training for Serious Athletes," the $695 Vasa--similar in size and shape to a rowing machine--offers a multiple-muscle aerobic workout. Users such as triathlete Ray Browning (pictured) can practice a variety of strokes, but not kicking.

Sleamaker, a onetime director of sports medicine for the U.S. Biathlon team, believes using the Vasa may be even better than a pool workout. "It actually improves your swimming ability because it forces you to use the correct technique," he says. "For instance, if you drop your elbows when you swim, your hand changes pitch and you lose your grip on the water. . . . With the Vasa, you can actually see if you're dropping your elbows."

Athletes such as Sanders, Morales and Evans use the Vasa to improve the strength of the triceps, lats, pectorals, rhomboids and deltoids. "(But) even if you are not an Olympic swimmer and want to develop your upper body, with one easy motion you can do it," Sleamaker says.

The Vasa Swim Trainer is available through Competitive Aquatic Supply of Huntington Beach or by calling (800) 488-VASA.


First Refusal

Ever wonder what happens to discarded license plates, bottle tops and punctured tire tubes after they've made their way to the landfill? Well, if Jorge Hansen and his wife and business partner, Suzanne Deputy-Hansen, intervene, such trash winds up at Nordstrom.

The couple, who met in Los Angeles "sometime around Earth Day" but now live in Bowling Green, Ky., have found a way to reduce, reuse and recycle garbage into wearable art. Their company, Recycle Revolution, gets most of its materials for belts and backpacks from America's wastelands. Scavenging adventures have taken the couple to junk stores, through run-down gas stations, down alleys and old country roads, even to a few landfills.

"We said to one another, 'Why create more materials, more fabrics when you can use what's already out there?' " recalls Hansen, who had studied architecture before discovering recycling. But it was Deputy-Hansen, a fashion designer, who seized on the notion of transforming common objects into new and useful items.

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