IN A 1978 photo, Sean Collins strides out of the Pacific, a shaggy-bearded Poseidon with a surfboard -- and a pair of red Adidas surf trunks so short they're approaching Speedo territory.
They look good.
But style wasn't the point back then. Board shorts were performance gear, made of quick-drying poplins, nylons and polyesters instead of the heavy, water-logged cottons. Waistbands and legs were designed with the interaction of surfer and surfboard in mind, and grommets helped drain water quickly.
Of course, by the 1990s, as surf culture was co-opted by the world beyond the beach, performance gave way to fashion, and along with flourishes such as camo prints and cargo pockets came a slow, steady southward creep until some so-called shorts were dipping just below the knee with an outseam of 22 inches.
Then, in the summer of 2006, a curious thing happened: Quiksilver, the board shorts behemoth, dipped into its archive and started reissuing some of its retro styles -- complete with 16-inch outseam -- and suddenly they seemed to be on everybody's short list.