The signature piece in the Olivers lineup is constantly moving
At Olivers, we spend a lot of time with our eyes focused on the road ahead. We focus on small, incremental improvements - both in ourselves and in each of our products. These seemingly minor refinements, we believe, are what make a difference when pursuing excellence. And no product exemplifies that theory better than our All Over Shorts.
We originally launched the Olivers brand in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign to produce our first design - what we deemed were “the last pair of athletic shorts you’d ever need.” The prototype was a minimalist short tailored with a slimmer fit, cut from high-quality water-repellent fabric with ballistic mesh pocketing. The performance specs were important, but so was the understated style.
“We really value the process of continuous improvement.”
“In many ways, we were out in front of the activewear trend,” says founder David Wolfe. “You weren’t seeing much high-end performance clothing that you could also easily wear outside of the gym.” And it obviously spoke to men. Not only was it one of the most successful apparel campaigns ever, but the first run of shorts grew to exceed over 10,000 pairs.
Yet almost immediately, we started thinking about ways we could improve. Like a quality piece of technology, it was clear that there would always be room to iterate. “We really value the process of continuous improvement,” says Wolfe. He mentions the Japanese philosophy, kaizen, which translates roughly to good change. “It’s about constantly evolving for the better - the concept that things should never be static and each day you’re either getting better or getting worse.”
A big step towards improvement was listening to customers. We heard from the athletes who put the All Over Short through its paces and learned what worked and what could be better. Today, you could say that the shorts have been nearly completely re-engineered from the inside out. They’re the same shorts and yet every component has been tweaked and improved.
“From the beginning, we knew the base fabric had to have three things: a great hand-feel, 4-way stretch and water repellency,” says Wolfe. “But the technology here has improved, and we’re now working with a second generation version of the original fabric.” It's about 5% lighter, has a much softer hand-feel, and most importantly it's 25% more resistant to pilling - one of the largest issues we had with the original. It also makes it even easier to wear them all day, in nearly any situation, and still look sharp.
Our design team updated the paracord drawstring to a flat laced style with a single, slimmer and sturdier end cap that doesn’t fail as easily. We switched out the pocket bagging from a rather coarse ballistic mesh to a softer version that didn’t catch on keys or other items. Details like the bar tack reinforcements stuck around but a secure inner pocket was added.
And after three years of solely producing one signature style, we started expanding the All Over Short into a collection - slight iterations on the original - to suit a variety of tastes. We expanded the colors, relaxed the fit and introduced a version with a 5.5-inch inseam. If you don’t want to flash as much thigh, there’s a longer 9.5-inch option now. And an all-in-one version with a moisture wicking liner included. Our newest version, the AOS Zip, includes the one feature that’s been most requested in the past 18 months - a side zip pocket. The subtle tweaks let you find a custom fit and finish that works with your personal style.
So what’s next? We were asked recently if we’d ever be done with the All Over Short. “It's hard to envision the product not being a part of Olivers,” admits Wolfe. “But we're also continually working to improve, so who's to say we won't reinvent or outright replace the AOS with a better version down the line?” The truth is, what the shorts stand for - function, ease and durability - is entrenched in our brand’s DNA. But we want to hear from you, the guys who wear them day in and day out. Let us know what you like and what you don’t and you’ll be a part of how these shorts will inevitably evolve in the future.* FYI: The original prototype was manufactured at the same Bay Area factory that once made technical garments for The North Face.