Mister Freedom® SCUBA TRUNKS
Army Denim, Tiger Stripes, Frogskin, OD HBT mfsc 2021-22 FROGSVILLE
This here is the one garment that inspired and fired-up our entire mfsc Frogsville concept in 2021! We had felt for a while that the iconic US military “TRUNKS, SWIMMERS” (aka “UDT shorts”) were too good of an historical piece of gear to not be revisited by heritage fashion. So we took the dive.
As the swimwear of choice of the Naval Special Warfare combat skin diver since WW2, the unique silhouette/cut (short length, high waist, double D-ring adjustable strap) has long been associated with the badassery of the Naked Warriors, UDT Frogmen and US Navy SEALs.
The characteristic style spread to other branches and MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), and was adopted by rescue swimmer schools – AIRRs (Navy Aviation Rescue Swimmers), SAR, MCCSSS (Marine Corps Water Survival School) – at times worn as PT uniform in USMC Recon Units, as daily uniform (matched with a green skivvy aboard a ship on deployment during Desert Storm source), even as General Purpose trunks.
The style was adapted from 1940’s civilian athletic/sport trunks, see vintage satin 1930s-50s belted basketball/boxing shorts. The utilitarian pattern of the trunks evolved very little though the years. The original regulation model, part of the frogman’s sea bag, were issued in khaki carded cotton chino twill, and this is how “UDT shorts” are still commonly known today.
However, vintage specimen suggest that several distinctive models and patterns were produced for the military, some more or less obscure. Trunks cut from a wide variety of fabrics also exist, showing in-the-field creativity. Those non-reg versions were usually rigger-made or tailor-made, using recycled uniforms, surplus shelter halves/ponchos, or locally-milled fabrics. Popular in South East Asia during the Vietnam War were camo versions, flashing all kinds of disruptive patterns, a plethora of tiger stripes, Beogam, Mitchell, ERDL, etc. In-country made embroidered trunks featuring custom “moral patches”, in the non-PC “Party Suit” tradition, are coveted items for collectors today.
For our Mister Freedom® interpretation, the SCUBA Trunks, we combined details and cuts from several military-issued swim shorts from our archives, the oldest being a 1943 US Navy contract pair (NXsX-35162) issued to a “NASH, R.D”, and the most unusual one a 1940s-50s private purchase pair labelled “Frank Bros. Military Uniform and Civilian Clothing, San Antonio, TX” featuring an interesting underwear “diaper” back pattern. We applied the usual MF® twist, blended all the vintage references into a contemporary wearable garment, and, yes, steered clear of the Frank Bros style. With updated pattern/fit/fabrics, our swim trunks are not replicas, yet respectful of the DNA of vintage military originals.
The waist strap allows for a ½ to 1 inch cinch. Many period photos of SEALs in the 1970s show the trunks being worn with the top waist button undone, belt un-cinched, waistband rolled down. This practice may show a tendency at the time to prefer a lower rise than the old 1940s high-waisted cut, amongst other concerns.
Our friend John T, of @Mosquito_Boat IG fame, a salty USMC veteran and knowledgeable preserver of military History, confirmed the practice during his time serving as a proud US Marine in the 1990s-00s, with anecdotes I won’t relate here.
Personally, the SCUBA Trunks have rapidly become my go-to PT beachwear, as hinted by the 38,779 photos on my IG feed, cosplaying as a half-naked weekend warrior peddling wares.
The MF® SCUBA TRUNKS are a re-imagined classic designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
FABRICS: The MF® SCUBA Trunks are available in four distinct fabric options, all milled to vintage Mil-Specs in Japan: a) 10 Oz. “Army” 2×1 selvedge denim, 100% cotton (same fabric as our Denim Raiders Fatigues)
b) BR (Buzz Rickson’s) Gold “Tiger Stripes” camo printed all-cotton twill, 1960s-inspired TSP pattern (same fabric as our Tiger Advisor Jacket). Inside waistband cut from contrast signal orange NOS cotton twill.
d) BR (Buzz Rickson’s) P42 “frogskin” double-sided camo pattern, all-cotton HBT, reversible, constructed jungle (green) side out, also wearable with beach (beige) side out (same fabric as our Map Shirt)
SPECS: * An original MFSC pattern, inspired by vintage military Swimmers Trunks, UDT shorts, revisited in the US military tradition of in-country local-made custom garments. * Old school high rise and short length profile. * Adjustable waist strap with double D-ring buckle. * Single square rear pocket. * Button fly, classic USN-style “fouled anchor” CPO plastic buttons. * Chainstitch seams construction. * Tonal stitching (with “rainbow” stitch accent on the inside for the Tiger Stripes & OD HBT model, in old USN “Liberty” fashion.) * Original mfsc Frogsville woven rayon label.
SIZING/FIT: The MF® SCUBA Trunks are true-to-size after a cold rinse/machine spin dry/line dry. Although the four fabric options have varying shrinkage specifics, all four models will fit similarly after the initial rinse/dry. We recommend the following simple initial process.
Cold soak for about 30 mn in tub or machine, with occasional hand agitation.
Spin dry (spinning cycle) if using a washing machine.
The D-ring waist strap allows for a one inch ~ ½ inch cinch. I wear a W32 in all models, and can get away with a W31 in the “Army” denim version. I’m about 5’7 / 145-150 lbs. Wear underwear.
CARE: Low maintenance. Machine wash when needed. Cold water, eco-friendly detergent. Line dry.
After scoring a nice assortment of royal blue/sienna/coral selvedge canvas fabrics from a dusty warehouse, we decided to go for a “Skipper” version, for dudes, hodads and barneys.
This one took a little time to complete as the cut/saw process had to be interrupted by a fun silkscreening session. The canvas fabric was originally solid and we decided to print one of the leg panel with an original Polynesia-inspired motif. As with the MF® Shop Tees, we are using water-based ink, so the graphic will gradually fade with wear and water sport activities.
Please note that, although adequate for swimming, these are vintage-style 100% cotton beach trunks and will not dry as fast as modern polyester trunks or spandex speedos.
The Skipper Board Shorts are designed and manufactured in California by Mister Freedom®.
FABRIC: NOS 100% cotton selvedge canvas, about 9 Oz., origin USA. Three color combinations available: a) Royal Blue, with Sienna (or Coral) waist band & pocket. b) Sienna, with Royal Blue waist band & pocket. c) Coral, with Royal Blue waist band & pocket.
SPECS: * Inspired by late 60’s to 1970’s classic swim and surf trunks. * Paracord/eyelet waist closure system. * Contrast Velcro® fly closure. * Fabric selvedge featured on the waistband. * Side pocket with Velcro® closure flap. * Rear concealed pocket. * Poly-cotton contrast stitching.
* Comes with TWO amazing MF® desktop wallpaper options, downloadable for freehere and here. Like, dude, whoa... * Made in USA.
SIZING/FIT: The board shorts are only available raw (unwashed) and are cut to fit the tagged size after an initial cold rinse and line dry. The paracord/eyelet closure system allows for some slight adjustment to the waist for a tighter/looser fit (about ¾ inch play). Please refer to sizing chart for cold soak/line dry measurements. (Please note that further shrinkage may happen with hot soak and heat dryer.)
Machine wash, cold water, hang dry.
Available Raw (unwashed) ONLY Tagged Sizes W28 W30 W32 W34 W36
Brigitte Bardot & Alain Delon wearing a winner (on Eric Tabarly’s boat, Saint-Tropez, 1968) Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)
“Aventure Beach Trunks”, made in USA. Sportsman Summer 2015
A proper introduction to our “Aventure Beach Trunks” will require the assistance of the action-packed movie provider of your choice. Put a little umbrella in your drink, and indulge in “L’Aventure c’est l’Aventure” (Claude Lelouch, 1972).
Spoiler alert, you might not learn much about jungle guerrilla warfare, but the art of working the beach will no longer hold secrets for you.
Aldo, Lino, Charlot, Jacquo… pick yourself a winner.
The “Aventure Beach Trunks” borrow the general pattern of our classic Sportsman Board Shorts, the original indigo version or “Saigon Cowboy” tiger stripe model, and feature Velcro closure, side pocket, cord waist adjustment… Please note that the tiger stripe option of the “Aventure Beach Trunk” is not made from Buzz Rickson’s gold tiger stripes, but from NOS selvedge camo fabric.
We have carefully selected vintage selvedge cotton fabric from our vault for this project. These NOS sixties/seventies novelty print textiles have been purchased over the course of many years, some collected as far back as during MF® early trials under the name Cricri Le Matelot in the early 2000’s.
Each pair had to be cut individually, a time-consuming requisite when using all different width of fabrics that cannot be stacked under one cutting marker. With very limited yardage of these fabrics, each design only yielded a few waist sizes. When possible, the selvedge was used on the inner part of the waistband.
For your beachcombing pleasure, we have made dozens of assorted eye-pleasing combinations, emulating what an old 1970’s Californian beach shack on the Venice Boardwalk might have offered during its hippy days. Due to variations in vintage fabric weight and texture, some options might be better suited for strolling on hot sand than coming out of chilly water. For the sake of your friends, and your reputation, we recommend testing at home.
Rumor has it that there is an embarrassing video on the interwebs highlighting the unforgiving fit of our beach trunks… but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
The classy “Aventure Beach Trunks” are designed and manufactured in California by Mister Freedom®. Limited edition.
Made from assorted NOS (New Old Stock) vintage novelty print cotton fabrics, canvas or twill. Designs, weight and texture vary.
DETAILS: * Late 60’s to 1970’s style
* Cord/eyelet waist closure system.
* Velcro® fly closure.
* Selvedge waistband when feasible.
* Side pocket with Velcro® closure flap.
* Rear concealed pocket.
* Poly-cotton contrast stitching.
* Few of a kind, limited edition.
* Made in USA.
All of the vintage fabrics were pre-washed prior to the cut/sew process, to even out the shrinkage across the board. Each pair of finished trunks was subsequently cold-rinsed and tumble-dried again. With very slight variations, all models tagged with the same size will fit the same, some fabrics featuring more mechanical stretch than others. Each pair was size stamped after the rinse/dry process, so if your waist actually measures 32”, you would wear a tagged 32.
The eyelet waist closure system allows for about ½ inch adjustment.
Low maintenance, machine wash when needed, cold and delicate cycle.
Tiger Board Shorts
“Saigon Cowboy” mfsc Spring 2015
“Mad Mark was the platoon leader, a first lieutenant and a Green Beret. (…) His attitude and manner were those of a CIA operative. A lover of stealth. A pro, a hired hand. (…) He wore tiger fatigues, not for their camouflage but for their look.”
Excerpt from ‘If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home’ Tim O’Brien (1975)
While Camp Pendleton Marines were chasing SoCal surfers out of Trestles, a few selected men of the Green Machine were board-riding the South China Sea waters of war-torn Vietnam. There it is.
Because eeeeverybody’s gone suuuurfin’, surfin’ USA in the 1960’s, the draft was to inevitably send some wave-obsessed kids to Vietnam. If Colonel Kilgore was a fictional character, several real life accounts testify of that. A certain Private Wyatt Miller Jr even managed to technically go MIA, last seen wiping out off Da Nang, on September 13, 1970…
Quite an interesting documentary, the 2008 film “Between The Lines: The True Story of Surfers and the Vietnam War” depicts the contrasting perspectives of combat vet surfer Pat Farley and surfer-dodger Brant Page, amongst others. Of hang tens and M-16s. Not a ton of period footage for obvious reasons, but insightful raw interviews nonetheless, not exactly highlighting the sanity of the Human race…
Marine confiscating board (1969) Photo Ron Stoner Courtesy SURFER
China Beach MP main gate
China Beach Surf Club, Vietnam, (1968) Photo Dennis Norton
“Between The Lines”, Photo Greg Samp collection
“Between The Lines”, Photo Tom Woods collection
Vung Tau beach (1968) Photo Kerry Seebohm
Colonel Kilgore’s board (Apocalpyse Now, 1979)
Kilgore’s chopper. Courtesy The Surfer’s Journal
To accompany our “Saigon Cowboy” in his endless summer safari, we are issuing a tiger stripe edition of the Board Shorts, a model we originally introduced for Spring 2014. These Mister Freedom® board shorts are inspired by several classic pairs of late 60’s~70’s trunks (Hang Ten, etc…), and feature an adjustable waist closure, Velcro® tape fly, side pocket, concealed rear pocket…
We scored some yardage of gold tiger stripe camouflage from our friends at Buzz Rickson’s. I believe this specific tiger pattern is referred to as TSP (Tadpole Sparse Pattern), but I’m probably wrong on that. The correct answer should be inside Richard Denis Johnson’s “Tiger Patterns” (ISBN 0-7643-0756-8).
For the salty look, we ‘partied-up’ our board shorts in two options, each featuring a single patch:
a) Reproduction “Sorry About That” red arc patch, with a local hand-made look.
b) Original 1970’s New Old Stock “Peace sign” patch.
Those inclined to do so will find many other vintage patches out there to spice this up, or a seam ripper to remove them. The older type machine-made patches are soft and have a cotton gaze-like back. They look much better in my opinion than the modern, rigid, iron-on kind found everywhere. Many eBay dealers offer reproduction or original patches from the Vietnam era.
I personally opted for three patches on my trunks, to take on bust-a-twig patrol while doing the jungle cancan.
lala lalalalala la…
The Tiger Board Shorts are designed and manufactured in California by Mister Freedom®, in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
Buzz Rickson’s 100% cotton twill, printed with TSP (Tadpole Sparse Pattern) gold tiger stripe camouflage. Made in Japan.
DETAILS: * Late 60’s to 1970’s style
* Paracord/eyelet waist closure system.
* Velcro® fly closure.
* Reproduction or NOS patch customization.
* Side pocket with Velcro® closure flap.
* Rear concealed sand pocket.
* Orange poly-cotton contrast stitching.
* Made in USA.
SIZING/FIT The board shorts are only available RAW.
The tiger board shorts will shrink to tagged size. The way the waistband closure is designed allows for a 1-1½ inch play, according to how tightly pulled the paracord is.
Please refer to sizing chart for soak/line dry measurements (please note that further shrinkage can be expected with hot soak and machine dry.)
Low maintenance, machine wash when needed. Color fading to be expected overtime.
Available Raw (unwashed) ONLY Tagged Sizes X-SMALL (approx W28) SMALL (approx W30) MEDIUM (approx W32) LARGE (approx W34) XLARGE (approx W36) Retail $149.95