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Vans taps to launch its Era custom boardshort [Updated]

May 17, 2011 | 10:09 am

Last May, when I first saw what the folks at Santa Monica-based Anymatic LLC had launched -- an easy, quick and relatively inexpensive ($99) way to create a pair of custom-printed boardshorts from user-uploaded art (including personal photographs) that would be cut and sewn right here in the Los Angeles area, one of my first thoughts was how long it would be before one of the giant action sports brands would come calling.

It turns out not long at all.

Barely a year after rolling out, the company is set to debut a partnership with Cypress-based Vans, which has long offered customers the opportunity to design their own shoes. Dubbed Vans The Era Custom Boardshort powered by the website, which is expected to go live shortly*, pairs the technology and processes created by Anymatic with the resources and design archives of the VF Corp.-owned skate brand -– including its familiar iconic checkerboard pattern, to allow customers to design their own surf trunks.

Available in a long and short style, the trunks are designed as an homage to the Vans Era silhouette, and Vans_front include a waistband curve and four-eyelet tie in the front inspired by the tongue and laces of that sneaker design as well as a rubber heel tab on the back yoke, and grommets printed with the words: “Vans Off the Wall Since 1966."

The base price of $99 allows users to choose between a long or short style of trunks, customize the left and right legs of the shorts, left and right waistband yokes, the back pocket, and the trim (which includes the stitching, lacing and eyelets). For an additional charge, one of six vintage Vans patches can be added to the front.

Although the Vans program doesn’t allow user-generated art (“Sorry, no pictures of your granny,” quips Anymatic's chief executive and co-founder William Cawley), it does offer 

Vans back four design options: Vans’ seasonal color palette, Vans’ patterns (the stripes, checkerboards and the like) where the colors can be edited to taste, as well as Vans prints and monthly limited-edition artist designs.

Currently the fabric choice is limited to a four-ply technical stretch, but Cawley says a 2-ply cotton/poplin version is coming soon.

And, in a nod to the burgeoning popularity of cloudsourcing, Cawley points out that every design that’s created at the site will be added to a database that will scroll along the bottom of the screen – allowing others the option of purchasing a pair designed by someone else.

Like the original Shortomatic wares, the shorts will be printed, cut and sewn locally and have a minimum turnaround time from order to shipping of 14 days and a maximum of 18 days.

When I stopped by the Anymatic offices in Santa Monica a few weeks ago to catch up with Cawley on the details of the Vans collaboration, he assured me that's not all they have up their custom-printed sleeve.

Grabbing a pinstripe bikini with the words "just married" printed across the bum, and a treasure map printed inside off a nearby rack, Cawley explained that it was a prototype of a new custom-print bikini offering set to launch in June at

He said that will be followed by custom-printed cycling jerseys and rash guards (at later in the year.

When I asked what other clothing categories they might consider customizing, Cawley just cracked a wide smile, pointed at some mysterious boxes in the corner of the office and reminded me of what he told me when we first met -- they named the company "Anymatic" for a reason.

-- Adam Tschorn

*[Updated 5/17/11 8:04 p.m.]: An earlier version of this post incorrectly indicated that the new boardshort-customizing website had already officially launched and included a hyperlink. Since the site is still in a test phase, we've removed the link. When it does launch, it will be accessible from both companies' homepages.

Photos: At top, a sample screenshot of the Vans The Era Custom Boardshort powered by website, which allows users to design their own surf trunks using patterns and artwork from the Vans archives. The eyelets and waistband curve, middle and rubber heel tab on the back yoke, bottom, are an homage to Vans' Era sneaker silhouette. Credit: