In 1961 Carrie Birdwell Mann transformed her small southern California home into a sewing room and store, launching Birdwell Beach Britches. It was one of the first businesses specializing in surf wear, making her living room one of the first surf shops. Her first employees were her husband and son. Her first customers were lifeguards in Newport Beach.
Mrs. Birdwell’s first product? Two-ply nylon beach britches built for surfing, her own invention. When Mrs. Birdwell got her first order of 100 pairs of beach britches from a shop in Huntington Beach, she hired one seamstress and put the rest of her family to work. Over the years, all seven Birdwell children worked for the company, sweeping floors, making coffee, and running errands.
And, for more than 50 years, Birdwell Beach Britches have become a multi-generational part of families and the stories they tell: an ocean rescue made possible by red Birdies being waved overhead, the strength of Birdwell’s two-ply britches saving a surfer from being cut by a reef, or the Beach Britches worn by a man who proposed to his wife on the beach 30 years ago.
In 2014, the Birdwell’s entrusted us with keeping their family tradition alive. While we no longer sell out of Mrs. Birdwell’s living room, our original factory and factory store is still a place for family to gather. Seamstresses have worked with us for over 40 years and sons come and buy Beach Britches for their fathers, who introduced them to the brand years ago.
What holds us together is a family pride in making purpose-built apparel and accessories that lasts generations. Triple contrast stitching on the waistband and a Birdie patch may make Birdwell Beach Britches surfing, paddling, and sailing’s most iconic brand. But quality will always be our gimmick.