More than just a bit of Southern California surf history or simply a slogan, “Quality Is Our Gimmick” has become a promise that we live by every day at Birdwell. It’s a commitment we honor with every material we source and every stitch we sew. It begins long before the product is built, at the design stage where every concept first takes shape as a piece of apparel or an accessory.
Before we even start a new design for a pair of shorts, a jacket, or a shirt, we ask ourselves: Does this need to exist? For what task is it built? Will it last to perform its task for years, even decades to come? These questions are the basis of what we call “purpose-built” design. We know that when our customers buy Birdwell gear, they’re expecting to buy a piece that will do its job—and do it well—for as long as they own it or longer. Timeless style is a part of this story. Each piece is created not to last a season, or capitalize on a trend, but to be wearable for a lifetime—even passed down as an heirloom. We put a great deal of deliberation into each creation, and we invite you to do the same when you make a purchase from us.
Without the right materials, design means nothing, so the next step in our process is to select the right materials to realize our designs with durability and style. Inspired by the nylon sails on sailboats in nearby Newport Beach, our founder Carrie Birdwell Mann, created the SurfNyl™ fabric we still use to this day. Working with textile mills on the east coast, she developed a proprietary 2-ply version just as durable as spinnaker cloth, but much softer against the skin and easier to move in. Every fabric that’s followed, from canvas to wool to corduroy to our latest innovation, SurfStretch™, has been evaluated against the same yardstick for quality, durability, and classic style. Almost all of the fabrics, zippers, grommets, and thread we use are manufactured right here in the USA. As a company with 57 years of history, we’ve been had the luxury to build relationships with partners as committed to our quality and our mission as we are. Some have been working alongside us for more than 40 years—longer than most other apparel companies have been around.
Once the materials and design have been dialed in, they’re assembled with great care and attention to detail right here in our Santa Ana, California factory, by some of the same craftspeople that have been working with us for over 40 years. When we say ‘hand cut and sewn,’ we really mean it! The next time you get your hands on a pair of our Birdies, turn them inside-out and you’ll see the work that goes into every pair. Inspect the seams—every one is clean-finished so the fabric won’t fray as you put it through its paces, and most seams are double or triple stitched, so you have a backup in the unlikely case that one should break. Unlike the automatic and semi-automatic cutting machines used by larger manufacturers, our patterns are cut one at a time, by hand, by the same person. The process is laborious, and there are faster and cheaper ways to build apparel, but we firmly believe that the longer something spends in our hands, the longer it will last in yours.