Style | May 5, 2021 11:20 am

Are We Witnessing the Renaissance of Basketball Shorts?

Adam Sandler had it right all along

Adam Sandler wearing basketball shorts
Do as the Sandman would do and invest in a pair of basketball shorts.
Gabe Serrano / InsideHook

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At some point this year — probably June or July, according to most state legislators — coronavirus restrictions will ease and we will all re-emerge, like bears from their slumber, into polite society. To help you readjust, we’ll be sharing some advice on grooming, fitness, getting dressed in something besides sweatpants (but also sweatpants), how to manage your stress and mental health, dating, concert and bar etiquette, and more.

Somewhere, Adam Sandler is smiling. The fashion industry he’s clearly ignored for his entire career has suddenly embraced his preferred bottoms, the basketball short. True to the strange and mysterious machinations of the industry, the fashion powers that be have cast their favor on yet another unlikely, or even ugly, garment (i.e. Crocs and Birkenstocks), but for some the basketball short might seem like a new low. But why?

The answer, in part, could lie in the short’s length. As hemlines continue to rise and men are increasingly encouraged to expose huge expanses of thigh, the sometimes egregious length of basketball shorts feels ill-timed for the current moment, despite what the designer iterations might otherwise indicate. But basketball shorts didn’t always use to graze or even hang past the knee, with the original design hitting about mid-thigh, until one Michael Jordan requested Champion, manufacturer of the Chicago Bulls’ uniforms, drop the seam of the shorts to prevent him from constantly having to tug at them. Soon other teams began to take note, not only adding considerable length but width, the leg opening widened to create the baggy silhouette we’re most familiar with today.

There’s also, of course, something juvenile about them: you wore them in high school and maybe college, and you were compelled, perhaps rightfully, to retire them once you hit a certain age.

But the designer basketball shorts populating the market today aren’t of the same variety as those scored for free in gym class or relics of time spent on sports teams. They largely maintain the same cut and mesh fabric customary to the shorts, but they’re outfitted them with patterns and logos to elevate the design to an entirely new level. Still, there remains something ridiculous to the concept of Bermuda-length mesh shorts accompanied by the interlocking Gs of the Gucci logo. The two disparate aesthetics joining forces is what makes them so appealing.

As we attempt to navigate a post-quarantine world and begin to determine how much of our quarantine style we wish to relinquish and which aspects we’d like to hold on to, designer basketball shorts present themselves as a great compromise, still offering comfort while allowing us to once again have fun with our wardrobes. And if you need tips on how to style them, we’ve got you covered.

John Elliott Tie-Dye Track Shorts
Farfetch

John Elliott Tie-Dye Track Shorts

Fendi Panelled Mesh and Jersey Shorts
Mr Porter

Fendi Panelled Mesh and Jersey Shorts

Burberry Logo Print Jordan Shorts
The Webster

Burberry Logo Print Jordan Shorts

Amiri Bandana B-Ball Shorts
Forward

Amiri Bandana B-Ball Shorts

Gucci Patch Detailed Mesh Bermuda Shorts
Farfetch

Gucci Patch Detailed Mesh Bermuda Shorts

And if you still can’t justify dropping a grand on a pair of designer basketball shorts, consider these more affordable but equally fashionable pairs like these Gym Shorts from indie production label A24, these Stadium Goods Mesh Shorts, Nike’s Standard Issue Basketball Shorts or this dyed pair from Supreme.