Sliding Scale: Swim Trunks

Welcome to the eighth installment of Sliding Scale, a series in which we bring you a single product for every budget. This month we’re rounding up Swim Trunks. Not too slim and not too loose; not too short and not not too long, these 10 responsibly-made pairs are just right. Note: all of the trunks in this list have a lining of some sort. We’ll be doing an unlined / board short round up a little later in the season.

American Apparel

Kicking things off is American Apparel, who has a number of different types of swimsuits, the most basic of which (read: least offensive) are these Resort Swim Trunks, which are made in the USA out of Polyamide canvas and cost $50.

Berg & Berg

Next up is Sweden’s Berg & Berg, whose Swim Shorts are made in Italy out of various fast-drying fabrics, and come in both simple solids and vibrant prints. Prices start at $57.60.


The Pops Volley Trunks from Wellen are cut and sewn in California out of 100% nylon, and then garment dyed to give them a soft, broken-in feel, similar to a pair of well-worn cotton shorts. Prices start at $68.

Lightning Bolt

If you’d prefer something that’s actually cotton, instead of just treated to feel like it, check out the $74.00 Turtle Bay Boardshorts from Lightning Bolt, which are made in Portugal out of a 51% cotton / 49% polyamide blend, and then given a Teflon coating for extra water repellency.

Owner Operator

For those who aren’t afraid to show a little thigh, there are the Swimmers from Owner Operator, which are made in the USA out of burly, DWR-coated two-layer nylon, and look like something straight out of a 1980s Patagonia catalog. Four colors are available, and each is priced at $80.


The all-nylon Swim Trunks from Apolis are designed and manufactured in collaboration with the storied American surf label Katin, come in three colors, and cost $84 a pop.

Norse Projects

Clocking in at $105 are the EU-made Hauge Swimmers from Norse Projects. Like pretty much everything else from the Danish label, these are super basic, but also super high quality, and have a nice egalitarian fit and subtle details.


If you prefer to go a bit bolder, check out the Swimming Trunks from Italian label Sangue. They’re made in Italy out of 100% cotton poplin fabrics that have been hand-screen-printed with various shapes, patterns, and designs. Some of the collection can be purchased from East Dane for $105. The rest can be bought directly from the company for around $110 (minus the VAT / plus international shipping).

Blue Mint

For a couple dollars more, you can snag a pair of Swim Shorts from the British label Blue Mint. Not only do they have a dizzying number of colors / patterns to choose from, they also make several different styles, including the drawstring / elastic waistband-ed Logan and the zip-fly / button-closured Bond. And all of the pairs are cut to fit as well as (or better than) regular shorts, so you can wear them away from the water too. Note: some trunks are made in the UK, others are made in Turkey.


And finally, of the many exorbitantly-priced, EU-made, luxe options out there, including Etiquette Clothiers ($180 and up), Orlebar Brown ($225 and up), and Vilebrequin ($230 and up), my personal favorite is Sunspel. Their Swim Shorts have a super clean design, are excellently made, nice fabrics, great cut – pretty much perfect, actually. But, as always, perfection comes with a price, and in this case, that price is $210.