It mightn’t be the most obvious item to upgrade right now, but quality swimwear is a godsend during Hong Kong’s hot summer months. If wisely chosen, the right pair of trunks can take you from boozy brunches out onto the open water, and all the way back again.

Naturally, if you’re shooting for something that’s versatile and ever-flattering, you’ll want to avoid the dowdy ‘ambiguous length’ shorts which are an all too common sighting on junks everywhere. Fortunately it’s 2019, and that means it’s never been easier to find labels to suit your build, lifestyle and stylistic sensibilities. Below, we’ve cherry picked the best of the bunch, so you look even sharper during your next visit to the beach, marina or pool.

1
Orlebar Brown

Inspired by the genteel sophistication of 1960s Riviera style, British swimwear brand Orlebar Brown launched to immediate acclaim some 12 years ago. It has gone from strength to strength since then, having recently released both its Summer 2019 collection and an exclusive James Bond-themed collaboration with Danjaq. Nowadays, the brand offers an end-to-end solution when it comes to clothing — admittedly, of a kind best imagined in a laidback resort environment — but at heart it’s still very much about swim shorts. Its best-selling Bulldog and Setter styles were among the first to tap the spirit of tailored clothing, using everything from side tabs to trouser-style darts in order to create a universally flattering silhouette. If it’s good enough for Daniel Craig, it’s good enough for us.

2
Hartford

Founded in 1979 by Yves Chareton during a sojourn to California, Hartford began life as a shirting specialist but quickly grew into a complete clothing label which offered what the French designer dubbed ‘alternative classics’. The menswear marries ’60s West Coast style with technical references that are inspired by Chareton’s home region of Landes. The Kuta — a shorter-length trunk emblazoned with native prints — and the Boxer — a versatile all-purpose short that’s particularly good in seersucker — are good choices in all seasons, but for something more unexpected we recommend these vintage-inspired shorts, made as part of a capsule commemorating the brand’s 40th anniversary.

 

3
Loewe x Paula's Ibiza

While Loewe‘s latest collaboration with iconic ’70s boutique Paula’s Ibiza possesses a fairly broad stylistic remit, designer JW Anderson’s central urge was to capture the flamboyance of seaside dressing in the Balearic boutique’s heyday. Swimwear is an essential wavelength of that vibey coastal energy, and Anderson succeeds in concocting a variety of twists on garden-variety trunks. White shorts emblazoned with Paula’s archival prints are bound to satisfy lovers of ‘fun’ resortwear, while tangerine-orange briefs — dainty to the point of hilarious — are perfect for those who’ve been working hard on leg day. There’s even a full wetsuit, because of course there is.

4
Love Brand & Co

Sustainability in luxury has become a make-or-break topic for most fashion brands — even niche producers of men’s swimwear aren’t impervious. Enter Love Brand & Co: specialists in high quality beachwear, built around a core of versatile linen shorts, espadrilles and polos. The brand’s secret weapon is the Staniel — a collection of mid-length swim shorts decorated in geometric prints, sure to illicit an awkward chortle or two. (With names like Change Your Tuna or Crazy Coral, need we say more?) The best part? Every pair is made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles in Spain, with 5 percent of each pair sold going towards the brand’s various wildlife conservation projects. Now how’s that for ‘looking good and feeling great’?

5
Debayn

Like many similar brands that have emerged over the past five years, Debayn was established to capitalise on the gap in the market for quick-drying and practical swimwear. The brand is so committed to a streamlined aesthetic that they don’t even offer designs with drawstrings (both their Shorts and Bermudas are equipped with a trouser-style waistband). Many of the details will be familiar to men who are picky about swimwear: the cut is ‘beach to bar’ appropriate, materials possess 4-way stretch and detachable waterproof pockets are included so you can take your valuables with you.

As it turns out, the edge Debayn has over the competition is technological: All of their trunks are made with a fabric ‘double skin’, which offers superior comfort to the polyamide netting that’s otherwise commonplace; and fabrics themselves are treated with a hydrophobic coating not dissimilar to what you’d find in a well-made raincoat.

6
OFF-WHITE x Vilebrequin

Earlier this June, Virgil Abloh — fashion’s most infamous multitasker — enlisted French swimwear brand Vilebrequin to create a 5-piece capsule of shorts that brings the familiar iconography of OFF-WHITE to a beachfront setting. The collection has long since sold out online, but makes our list nonetheless thanks to its conciseness and surprising wearability. For gents looking to experience a piece of the fashion zeitgeist (without necessarily going all in on Abloh’s cut-and-chop aesthetic) these shorts are a great solution. They’re still available at select Vilebrequin boutiques including those at Pacific Place and Harbour City.

Randy Lai
Watches Editor
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.