Wow — after a week in “dark mode” we are back from our top-secret Blackbird SpyVisit to NYC, where we did deep “boots on the ground” recon at elite shops; headquartered ourselves downtown but checked in on what the f**k was really good all the way from Sunnyside, Queens, to St. George, Staten Island; and “linked and built” to a degree that was frankly legendary with some of the most elite members of the Blackbird Spyplane extended universe.
As promised?? We came back refreshed…✔️ rejuvenated…✔️ resplendent…✔️ and ready to go HARDER THAN EVER for you, the Blackbird SpyFriends who make this rare, 100% reader-supported miracle possible.
Every so often we put out open calls on IG for “Personal Spyplane” questions. Here’s an esp. timely one that came in the other day:
“What are some banger shorts we should know about for the upcoming sweaty seasons?” — @nicotie1
We’ve gotten versions of this Q a lot lately, in a clear indication that we needed to do a MEGA-TURBO “COOL SHORTS” REPORT … so today we R doing exactly that !!
Let’s start w/ some DEEP-CUT PIZZAZZ … Our Cla$$ified-Recon-Tier SpyFriends have known about Jaipur handcrafted-jawn-wizards Harago for a minute now, because we wrote about them behind the “unbeatable paywall” last October…
Recently Harago designer Harsh Agarwal sent us his new “summer shorts” lookbook PDF, and it’s stuffed with beauties like the fantastic cotton handwoven quilted kantha shorts above, which we would rock the f**k out of... ($150 USD // UPDATE FROM HARAGO 9:43 a.m. PT: “Can you please change the price to $200? We are sold out on vintage style and now only making more on pre-orders hence the price difference”)
Above left are Harago’s cotton handwoven “Sujni Embroidered Shorts” … they’ve also got some great khadi silk joints & hand-block-printed gems, so peep the lookbook, and to order U can drop Harago a line here. (Matches and &Son carry Harago now, too — the “Spyplane bump” in action!!)
Speaking of Indian hand-block-printed beauties, New Delhi’s Kardo also has some nice ones, like the pair above right, made in Rajasthan: $140 here, click thru to check the close-up shots.
While we R saluting “artisan” shorts we would be fools to not mention Blackbird SpyFriends Graziano and Gutierrez, whose unisex elastic-waist shorts, cut in Portland from traditional pedal-loomed Oaxacan textiles, are consistent slappers — most are gone at the moment but these red & tan beauties are still live.
MEANWHILE… There may come a day, sooner than U might think, when Blackbird Spyplane makes “The Case for JORTS”…
Today is not that day, but we will say that last week on IG we clocked SpyFriend Seth Rogen (who we interviewed for the ‘sletter here) rocking monster stonewashed jean-shorts, above left, on some Kenny Powers s**t, then we popped into Blue In Green and saw OrSlow’s “one-wash linen denim climbing shorts,” above right, in a whole new light. They’re just a little on the long side, very soft but structured, and a perfect way to go jort mode circa Summer 2021: JORT-GORP!! (Acne and Paa both make “elevated” light-blue jorts much closer to the ones Rogen’s rocking, FYI.)
If you are on that Mach 8+ shorts wave?? U will find a way to rock ~23-inch-inseam 2005-era Dipset jorts like the ones Juelz Santana accessorized with a PlayStation controller in the iconic pic all the way up top … spectacular yes!!
HOWEVER, maybe U R a simple-hearted devotee of Patagonia Baggies & don’t want to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to yr shorts so much as explore less-ubiquitous possibilities … When a reader asked us about Baggies-style alternatives last summer we shouted out NYC’s Battenwear, whose “active lazy shorts” and thin-wale corduroy “local shorts” remain fire & which pop up for sale pretty reliably. (Gramicci’s Packable G-Shorts and Shell Gear Shorts aren’t super under-the-radar but they are 2 more solid summer options along similar lines that u can cop new or on eBay with ease.)
We’ve also clocked Mollusk’s unlined, drawstring “Vacation trunk,” which has a vibey little logo treatment & which comes in a few colors — $68 here. And Spyplane-approved rare Tokyo gorpsmiths Comfy Outdoor Garment just dropped their very sick mesh-lined “Bug Shorts,” coppable here or thru proxies like FromJapan.
Sticking to that understated register, Lady White Co.’s U.S.-made Japanese-cotton-poly short, above left, is very clean, ditto Paa’s U.S.-made dry-Japanese-grosgrain short, above right — both of which we FONDLED RESPECTFULLY at Mach 3+ NYC jawn depot C’H’C’M (where Paa’s iridescent “windbreaker shorts” and some fire $$$ dirt-hued easy shorts from Australia’s Man-tle caught our eye, too.)
If u wanna go the EXTREME INDIE route, Severed Circles is a new tiny operation run out of an S.F. bedroom by a nice-seeming Cla$$ified Subscriber named Evan, who emailed us the other day to let us know he just launched 2 water-repellent unisex 5”-inseam nylon hiking shorts in navy and orange — “each pair was cut and sewn by me using fabric sourced from the Mission District,” featuring a “reflective paracord drawstring” and “a hand-embroidered logo on the front, as well as hand-embroidered sashiko stitching along the side and underneath the logo.” $65 a pair, and no two are identical — cool!
This brings us to the elephant in the room of any contemporary “SHORTS TALK”: If u are a “5-inch inseam absolutist” then please trust & believe that we understand yr position — in an imaginary binary-decision scenario, small shorts are indeed superior to enormous shorts.
BUT here at the no. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon” we live in a world of nuances, gradations and degrees, and so we are in no way doctrinaire about this inseam s**t … if anything, since petite inseams became a d*mn TikTok meme last summer, we R now actively motivated to find popping shorts that make volume work!
For instance, <No Country For Old Men voice> if the inseam rule you followed brought you to not rocking the fire Issey Miyake mesh pleated shorts above left or the (technically women’s but I could see myself rocking them) wavy KkCo Japanese-crepe shorts above right — then OF WHAT USE WAS THE RULE, friendo??
Both come in a few colors, and the Isseys have an integrated inner short to DEFLECT prying eyes… They are basically a luxe, Isseyed-out version of classic mesh basketball shorts, which have quietly become an au courant short type in their own right, perhaps thanks to paparazzi shots of the billlowing-mesh-god Adam Sandler.
Cinematic SpyFriends A24 sell $48 (non-Sandler-length) 7” inseam mesh “gym shorts,” and Podcast SpyFriends Throwing Fits are re-upping their 2020 mesh “pod shorts” in 3 colors this Thursday, May 20th, with a 5-inch inseam and a death-metal logo treatment on the left thigh…
Another LONG SHORT we R feeling is this South2West8 late-‘80s-vibed skater short…
No matter what the inseam is, though, shorts occupy a relatively slender percentage of a fit in terms of square inches — and yet they can pack a TON of SPICE into that small area.
U can see this principle illustrated above left, where we’ve got some LAVISHLY POCKETED Japanese-made gardening shorts from Sassafras x Mountain Research’s under-the-radar capsule collab — these are rare as hell and (like the OrSlow linen-denim climbing joints) we spotted them at Blue In Green IRL but not online, so call about coppin’: The power of ON-THE-GROUND Spyplane Recon in action! (There’s another cool pair of Sassafras gardening shorts, in nylon, here.)
If u want even MORE SPICE, we are feeling the Elder Statesman Peruvian-knit organic-cotton striped shorts, above right, big time — they are here, they are roomy, and they R not cheap…!! (These hand-knit colorblocked Elder Statesman shorts R also very wavy and even ROOMIER.)
Knit shorts are “having a moment” right now. The hand-crochet Italian-wool Judy Turner shorts above left are all-time stunners (and cost even more dough than the Elder Statesman ones)… the solid merino "board shorts” above right, also from Judy Turner, are on sale right now and come in a few colors…. And Spain’s Monica Cordera makes a nice women’s knit short coppable in natural here. We’d go for something lighter than wool on a particularly sweltering day, but knit shorts are exquisite in a “summer’s breeze” type situation…
Keep it breezy 🌼🌸❀✿🌷 Jonah & Erin
Blackbird Spyplane is the No. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon”
— and we’re 100% subscriber supported. Have fun and treat yrself to a Classified-tier subscription & enjoy instant 47.7% quality-of-life improvement.
Every “Blackbird Spyplane Interview,” w/ such luminaries of the arts & jawn sciences as Jerry Seinfeld, André 3000, Emily Bode, Lorde, Online Ceramics, Nathan Fielder, Phoebe Bridgers, Rashida Jones, John Wilson, Ezra Koenig and more, is here.