M Nii trunks

In the early 1950s, H Miura General Store began selling surfers school gym shorts with stripes down the leg in school colors. Red and white Wailua High colors were considered “very cool”. 1960s champion surfer Mike Doyle remembered, “The first modern-style surf trunks I ever saw were made by a Filipino man who had a tailor shop at Waianae, south of Makaha. His name was M. Nii. The surfers at Makaha were always going in here to get their torn trunks mended, and this fellow realized there was a market for a better surf trunk. So he started making his own.

Experimenting around with bright and exotic colors, different panels in varying colors, a wax pocket in back and surfer stripes down the sides. Before long, the M.Nii trunks became famous. Every surfer who went to Hawaii had to have a pair of M. Nii trunks, and more often than not, he had a whole list of orders for M. Nii trunks from his friends.

The big deal

BY 1952, most California surfing transplants were buying custom-made surfing trunks from M.Nii’s in Waianae. Nii’s “Makaha Drowner” is considered by many to be the first, true trunk. Greg Noll confirmed the value of M. Nii surf trunks. “When we first went to the islands, these pants [M. Nii’s custom-made surf trunks] were a kind of trend deal. You see us wearing them in a lot of the old pictures. Eventually, we started going to M. Nii’s  in Wainae and had white shorts made with stripes down the side and a pocket for our board wax. That was a big deal, to go to Hawaii and have M. Nii make your surf trunks. They caught on everywhere we went and were prized on the Mainland. We’d bring M. Nii’s trunks back to our friends.”

Quoted in Legendary Surfers by Malcolm Gault-Williams


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