House of Quinn

To Live | To Wear

HoQ : History of Shorts

Julius ArthurComment

HoQ began with shorts. In fact the shortest shorts and as we move through to the launch of the newest collections and the start of the House of Quinn's new journey into modern, effortless and sustainable products. We thought it would be a nice idea to delve into the history of men's shorts. 

In modern Britain, the short as everyday dress was seen a rebellious garment. Going against the notion of formal wear and conservative dressing for men. It existed purely as a garment to play sports and for leisure occasions, such as vacations for the higher classes. 

Today the short as we know it has many different shapes, forms and uses and all stem from the very first notion of short trousers. 

Shorts - a rite of passage

In most of Europe and America the idea of shorts was associated with young boys, worn as a practical garment until they reached a certain age or height. They would receive their first pair of long trousers when they reached these milestones in their lives and were seen to be adult enough. Adult men also would avoid wearing shorts as not to be seen as "immature" or "infantile". 

Shorts and the war 

In world war II, shorts were more accepted by the adult male, purely for the practicality of the garment. with movement and with air flowing around the legs, the military short soon became uniform and manufactured as part of military specifications. 

1930's Britain

Along side the well documented women's clothing evolutions of the 1920's to 1930's where women fought for a looser silhouette, doing away with restrictive undergarments. Menswear was also under fire for revolution. 

In 1929 the MDRP or Men's Dress Reform Party was a reform movement started in interwar Britain. The group wanted to emphasise the need for a better way of dressing, to promote a more free aesthetic. Where men could experiment with a more casual approach to dressing.

Doing away with stuff suits, high collars and neck ties the MDRP promoted a way of dressing that would shape the future of the modern man's wardrobe. 


This statement, was advocated through the MDRP by wearing more casual garments, and shorts were a major part of this new way of dressing. A design committee was formed to advise on the "acceptable" clothing of the movement and national coverage of the MDPR's way of doing things would cement its new look in history. 

Sources have traced the history of the MDRP back to the early 1920's, and a gentleman called Dr. Alfred Charles Jordan, who was photographed cycling to work in a pair of tailored shorts. This was quite controversial for the 1920's gent, shorts were seen purely as leisure attire. To wear shorts as part of your everyday outfit was revolutionary and paved the way for the shorts as the new silhouette for men.  


Not only was Britain at the forefront of proud short wearing, the shorts movement was sweeping America thanks to the college students of Dartmouth University. 

In May 1930, the shorts protest of Dartmouth saw the student body free the leg. In protest of men's dress, they came together in force. Cutting up their suit trousers, and putting on anything that would expose their knees and provide comfort and ease to their daily outfits. More than 600 students joined the cause and the protest was the start of a shorts rush. Local merchants saw sales of shorts rocket to 300 pairs in one day. Champions, Dudleys and the local College Co-op sold out of the readily available sports shorts of the time. 

The Dartmouth paper announced "Emancipation is complete" but also made a statement that they realised that wearing shorts was a youthful look, and in time they hoped that the garment would become a valid item of clothing for the everyday man. 

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The Death of Short Shorts 

Short shorts, know to us all are shorts typically with an inseam of 4 inches or less and were orginally created to play basketball. The short shorts provided ease of movement for the players to make elongated jumps and make their way around the court quickly. 

Micheal Jordan, was the man who killed short shorts. He wanted to wear his college team shorts under his new appointed team, but couldn't. So requested his sponsor, Nike, to create some looser longer shorts for him. The end of short shorts and the beginning of basketball shorts as we know them today. 

A "short" insight into the history of shorts as we know them, we will add some more short history facts over the course of blogging to fill in the garments back story and open up the world of the common short.