ABOVE THE FOLD REVIEW - I give this 4 stars, but that may slip over time (with product usage) to a 3 star rating or potentially lower. The shorts look amazing, and feel great, in fact they are the nicest swim shorts I have ever owned, but two flaws in the construction make me nervous about long term structural stability and subsequent satisfaction. I'm looking forward to the return of summer :)
LONGER REVIEW - First a little bit about me.
I grew up in Ireland and I moved to the US 22 years ago to work for a technology company. A friend of mine from work arrived here a few months before I did so when I moved, he had already arranged an apartment for my family and I before we got here. When we got here, we were so excited about the gorgeous weather that it wasn't long before I said lets go join our friends at the apartment pool. When I called my friend to see what time he was going to be at the pool he shared a critical piece of information with me - No Speedos.
At that time in Ireland, and for the most part, all of Europe, traditional fare for a bloke going swimming would be to don a pair of Speedos.
In saying something good about the self confidence of the person wearing the Speedos, one wore them regardless of your weight or body shape, because that was what people wore. However, I always thought it was unattractive as a garment choice unless one had the body to go with it, and personally, it always made me self conscious on the beach or at the pool. Definitely not a set and forget type of garment.
So taking my friends advise to heart, a quick trip to Target to get knee length board shorts saved my ego for my first appearance at a swimming pool in the US. Board shorts, while never seeming like a garment that has much thoughtful design from a visual appeal perspective, they are very much a set and forget arrangement, and definitely a big improvement on my distant relationship with Speedos.
Until my discovery of these shorts from Parke and Roen, it seamed like you either went with something that looks like you are strutting about in your knickers (Speedos) or a black trash bag (board shorts). Admittedly, this style has likely been around forever, just never an option that I have seen on display when I have gone to purchase new shorts.
FIT - The fit of the shorts is completely smashing for my new and improved shape. Over the last 10 months I went from 189lbs to 163lbs and from a 38inch waist to a 32.5 inch waist. While not yet at my target weight or waist size, as we approach summer, I now not only have a pair of swim shorts that fit (the others are all too lose) but a pair that I really like the look of. This length of short is the perfect middle ground between the past (Speedos) and the present (knee length board shorts).
FEATURES - With 3 pockets (all with a nice stretchy lining - and the back pocket with a button closure), an elastic strap with positions for two lengths concealed nicely inside the waistband, a zipper, and a button and clasp at the waist, these are not your average shorts. They are like 'real' shorts that you can swim in.
MATERIALS - I couldn't honestly tell one material from another in a blind taste test, but I really like how this fabric feels. Additionally, it feels very durable, and I like the print with the nautical look and always prefer that to a solid color. As already mentioned, I like the stretchy lining in the pockets
and believe that will prevent tears from putting keys and other items in there at the same time.
CONSTRUCTION - This is where things get disappointing for me, because as important as it is to love the product today, I want to love it next year and the year after too. The thread used to secure the button in the center above the zipper is already frayed and showing signs of being an area of concern. I have only had the shorts on 2 times for a total of about 10 minutes, so any demise in the structural integrity is not at the hands of any use or abuse from me. Having said that, the two buttons for the strap inside the waistband are rock solid and show no signs of being an area of concern. The last item that speaks to construction process quality is the label sown inside the waistband at the rear. Personally I don't care if that falls off since I already know the brand of the product and the size, but the fact that it is already half off is not what I would expect to see in a product at this price point.
PRODUCT CARE: - not a fan of the sound of hand wash only. I don't even know what wold make a product unsuitable for machine wash, because everything I own is machine wash, but if that's what it takes to look this good on the beach, then lets fill up the sink.
Again - really really love the cut of these shorts - by far, these will set you apart at the pool / beach from the traditional product offerings in this space when shopping at the stores that 80% of the buying public will frequent. These shorts make a statement that you care about your appearance and your purchase decision is not simply utility based.
In an attempt to explain my feelings on the product, I will make a comparison to dating - this feels like you have just discovered the most beautiful person in the world, and every time you go out with them you just feel amazing. Under normal circumstances, they would have been outside your reach, but somehow it all worked out and you are together. Having said that, you quickly discovered that they are quite possibly a bit fragile, and you now know what their flaws are, but, because of all the other positive emotions at play, you decide to stay together and make it work. While that statement could describe many actual human relationships, it is not a statement I want to be true as I think of a product I purchase.
While there probably are very few perfect products in any category, for some reason, for me, and likely many many people, there is this expectation of / desire for perfection, For me, should Parke and Roen (or any designer designer) decide to act on feedback like this, that is likely a process change at the manufacturing plant, and so, a fix with a small footprint versus a product re-design.
Trust me, Ill be wearing these puppies all summer long, and should you decide to take the leap into something fabulous I imagine you will too :)