To be honest, the buttons were the first thing we noticed.
All of the shorts made by Old Bull Lee – and they only make shorts – have button fly openings. And, the buttons that founder Lee Johnson chose to use are very specific; thick, sturdy, branded, and slightly over-sized. You notice them because they are not simply functional, they are part of the overall design.
That these buttons have a quality that is hard to define, but which unquestionably add to the shorts’ overall character, is not by chance. Johnson, a former architect, knows from design and his shorts reflect that attention to detail, construction, and quality.
Depending on what model you chose, Old Bull Lee shorts are either bohemian cool or long-lived classic.
The prints, rendered in lightweight (190 grams-per-square-meter) Italian cotton, have a wonderfully relaxed yet sophisticated look to them. They would be perfect for strolling the weekend antiques market in L’Isle sur la Sorgue, paired with an favorite old white linen shirt – sleeves rolled up in the warming sun.
The solids are cut to the same design, but in a beefier 290 grams-per-square-meter cotton and finished in a Japanese peach finish twill. At first, they have a deeply uniform coloration, saturated, almost. But, with some time, use, and a few washes, a nuanced faded appearance sets in and they take on a look of comfortable familiarity. All of their fabrics are sourced from France and Italy and the garments are made in the United States.
As an added bonus, each pair of shorts arrives carefully presented inside a beautiful, sturdy navy presentation box that makes Ralph Lauren’s look like something from the dollar store. Really, we love the boxes.
Old Bull Lee’s story is one of passion and determination. Johnson sold his house to finance the dream, traveled to Europe to make connections, endured rebuffs and rejections, and eventually wound up producing something that embodies his dedication to craft. Yes, they are “just” shorts. But, they are the shorts we want to wear, made by the kind of guy we love introducing to OTC readers, and constructed in a way that honors Lee Johnson’s goal of doing it right.