Teaching “corporate surfers”, and increasingly their families as well, keeps long-board surf legend Terry Simms riding rip curls year round, from Montauk to Morocco, Costa Rica to Kauai. But chasing the perfect wave was easier, he says, than finding durable board shorts that moved with him in the water and would last more than one season. His clients, meanwhile, bemoaned the lack of interesting visuals in men’s swimwear.
Between surf breaks at Nihiwatu on Indonesia’s Sumba Island in the Flores Sea, Simms found inspiration in the isle’s animist ikat textiles, renowned throughout the archipelago and woven with horses, totems and even Sumba’s now-outlawed headhunting scenes. Five years of fabric and fit testing followed, resulting in Kadu’s first collection of seven board shorts ($225 each) that stylishly double as casual beach or resort wear for those who prefer to keep on a more even keel.
Simms was determined to eliminate the chafing and rash burns that male surfers and swimmers suffer due to standard inseams, as well as the drag – literally and figuratively – of slow-drying materials. His solutions include a high-tech, very durable poly-suede fabric that is lightweight and dries at lightning speed; seams that are covered in ultra-soft Lycra; and top-quality, rash-proof nylon thread – “the only threads more deluxe are made of gold or silver,” says Simms.
Tailored for the next generation of surfers to inherit from their fathers, Kadu designs are timeless. Simms expanded his research to the textile collections at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles Museum of Art, adapting the graphic Black Diamond print (second picture) from the Komering people of south Sumatra, the more sedate Green Shells print (first picture) from the seafaring state of Orissa on the Bay of Bengal and the Skull Tree (third picture) – an allusion to Sumba’s bellicose past – for modern wave warriors.
Back on land, Simms is also “psyched” that a percentage of Kadu’s profits will fund clean-water projects “that help my Sumbanese friends who live on one of Indonesia’s most impoverished islands”.