The Life Shorts were always about creating a product that we wanted to make, for us, the dewerstone crew.
When we speak about the Life Shorts, we always mention how we left nothing out and that we didn't cut any corners. We started with a blank canvas and if we wanted it on the shorts, rightly or wrongly, it went on the shorts, irrespective of what impact it had to our cost of manufacture.
We wanted to make the World's best board shorts and a few years down the line, we're glad we stuck to our guns.
Let's take a look in to the Life Shorts 2.0 production process and some behind the scenes factory action!
We've worked with the same factory in Guangzhou, China since 2014. We're super stoked to see how they've grown as a business alongside ours and we are always in awe of the advancements in technology each time we visit.
All the photos below were taken by Rory when he was last there (just before Paddle Expo in September 2019) and are of our sampling process, were we are making our complete range of colours at once, ready for trade shows and showing retailers.
All of our design work is created in our Dartmoor office, whilst all sampling and production is completed at the factory in Guangzhou.
On average, we work 18 months ahead of the current season; so although our Life Short 2.0 2020 are about to hit the stores, we’ve just finished finalising our Summer 2021 range, which will be in sampling soon!
So how does it work?
1. The graphics are printed on sublimation paper. At this stage the colours are muted, but they'll come to life later.
We do have a choice regarding the printers and quality of inks that are available, but to ensure the best quality, we’ve always worked with Epson – the colours definitely pop more and don’t fade!
2. The paper is then heat pressed against the fabric (that super nice stretchy one made from plastic bottles). This is a super satisfying part of the process; the graphic goes from being dull and lifeless, to becoming alive and vibrant.
3. The pattern is cut out by laser. YEAH, we use lasers!
Due to how samples are produced, it can look like there is a lot of wastage. However, we can guarantee that in production, there is almost ZERO wastage! Just imagine how creative you can get laying up the shapes of thousands of bits of shorts taking up as much room as you can on the fabric - and then imagine there's a computer program that can do that job a 1000 times better (which there is)!
4. Does it look right?
Unfortunately, designs don’t always turn out the way that we envisioned at the design stage i.e. fades don’t align, the graphic is too complex, or even our colour choice when combined don’t work with each other. For every short that makes it in to final production, there's always another that did not make it out of the sampling stage.
By this point the shorts are starting to come to life, the fabric is bursting with colour and we're reaching the most complicated part of the process.
5. Stitching the shorts together.
It's an incredibly skilled job that takes time. The pattern used for the Life Shorts is complex, much care is taken to ensure every step in the process is done correctly, with multiple quality inspections throughout the various stages.
Much of the process up till this point is done by computer, but at this stage various parts of the shorts pattern are marked up with tailors chalk, by hand, before then being sewn together.
6. Final quality control. There's so much satisfaction in seeing a product you've spent so much time on come to life, being able to hold it in your hands for the first time is quite amazing. We hope you love the Life Shorts 2.0 as much as we do.
From this factory visit we went straight to Paddle Expo and showed the Life Shorts 2.0 to retailers from all across Europe!
We also sent a few sets to the SEND crew for testing.
We're always super excited to talk all things Life Shorts, if you've any questions be sure to drop us a DM on our Instagram or the WhatsApp chat here and we'll do our best to answer!