Last night I went for a ride in a pair of test shorts. Testing is one of the good bits of this business, whether it is a design or in this case a material. Along with other tests that are done on squares of the fabric, we make a prototype using the new fabric and we subject it to the kinds of indignities it will experience at the hands of our customers.
Glen calls me her “crash test dummy”, and that is an accurate description of the part I play. I don't crash on purpose, but given enough trail time, I will crash. During the period before the crash, which could be months, I will be doing other stuff that will inform the eventual approval of the material. Getting it dirty is a given. Rubbing it on the saddle, also hard to avoid.
Other things that we may not have thought of happen too: chafing against pack straps, interfaces with thorns, episodes of ad hoc trail clearance, swimming in hot natural streams and freezing cold lakes, use while doing garden duties, spilling stuff on them while trying to eat and write a newsletter at the same time (30 seconds ago).
We figure out how keep it looking good through multiple washes, and while we don’t do all the stuff you guys do, like washing our shoes in the same machine at the same time (cross my heart, this has been done) or wearing our Dobies while house painting (more common than you would think), we do know what the tricks will be for a given material to keep it good as new for as long as possible.
That is why we get comments like this (verbatim, from Facebook today)
“my NZO shorts have taken SUCH a bashing over the last coupla years (they really have) and every time, after a wash they look, quite honestly, as good as new. Like I'll never need a new pair! Bugger”
“Ill testify to that gaz. ..your shorts are Tom proof!” (from Tom, obviously).
Clearly, selling shorts that don't fall apart is counter-productive given the capitalist’s objective of selling bales of stuff and rolling around in bathtubs full of cash. We have touched on this before: we don’t want to sell you more shorts than you need, but we do need to keep selling shorts. If your Nzo shorts are really good, please tell your mates. And perfect strangers if you get a chance. If you have a problem with your Nzo stuff, tell us!
As the comments above will show, you are crash test dummies too.