Beach season is now upon us and whether you’ve already got tickets booked to the tropics or are planning on hitting the pool every chance you get, you might want to take a look at your swimwear and check if your trunks are saying YMCA or Nikki Beach.

Guys don’t generally put much thought into their swimwear. Most likely you’ve got a few pairs of swim trunks that might date back to your last college spring break rager in Cabo. And they do the job just fine, you’re probably thinking.

I can’t argue there. But men’s swimwear has undergone significant change over the last decade, transforming from a utilitarian surf staple to style statement. What was once just a basic choice between Speedo or some boxy board shorts has morphed into a category that’s spawned its own niche design labels (with luxury prices to match).


The current trend in swimwear is for slim fitting trunks that hit the mid-thigh. They’ve got a retro 60’s feel with tapered cuts, novelty prints, stripes or solids, and are updated with fast-drying fabrics.

While visiting Byron Bay, I tested out six pairs of swim trunks at a variety of price points.


This pair from H&M is a solid choice is more ways than one: it’s stylish without being overly trendy and an affordable pick at around $20. It’s one of the shorter pairs I tried so it helps to have in-shape quads if you’re going with a pair of short-shorts.


Retromarine is New York brand known for their (you guessed it) retro prints that have a Palm Springs vibe. This pair is from their “Spanish Vacation” collection that takes inspiration from the tiles and mosaics of the Iberian Peninsula. Another cool detail: the fibers are embedded with SPF 50 filters that both protect the prints and your sensitive regions.


Solid&Striped is another retro brand that brings back the hardware and construction of 60’s design. Their shorts have a zipper fly with snap closures and adjustable waistbands for a distinctly Don Draper appeal.


Bluemint is a company out of the UK known especially for their distinctly awesome prints that look right at home on a yacht in St. Tropez. With a tailored fit, zipper fly and quick drying fabric, they’ve got a high-end construction and are at the higher end of the price scale.


You’ve maybe seen a lot of tropical prints lately everywhere from shirts and sweaters to swimwear. If there’s any place to rock a tropical print…it’s in the tropics, or at least on a sandy beach. French Connection makes these drawstring print shorts that look great whether you’re actually in Fiji or just chilling at the pool.


Orlebar Brown is another UK based label at the luxury spectrum with shorts retailing for $250 and up. They’ve got some unique prints featuring photography from idyllic settings so that you can bring a little Mustique mystique to whatever resort paradise you find yourself basking.