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Online Bermuda shorts business TABS partners with AS Cooper

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From virtual to retail: Rebecca Hanson of The Authentic Bermuda Shorts (Photo by Akil Simmons)

The online business TABS, which originally sold its Bermuda shorts exclusively from their website, has moved into the traditional retail sector with the popular men’s clothing item now selling at AS Cooper & Sons Ltd.

Rebecca Hanson, founder of TABS (which stands for The Authentic Bermuda Shorts), said: “We are in AS Cooper Man and in the AS Cooper Fairmont at the Southampton Princess as well. These are our first two retail ventures. I also did do a pop up shop over Christmas in the Atlantic Jewellery Studio in the Washington Mall during the Christmas season.”

“I wanted a store presence,” she said. “Now sales are increasing, I had to find different ways (of getting them to the market) — and a lot of the guys said they wanted to try them on.

“Cooper’s have been so supportive of my business, and supportive on the marketing front. I’m just so chuffed to be with them. They are great.”

And as sales have gone up, Ms Hanson has been able to introduce new colours, and has also redesigned the shorts after receiving feedback from customers, who asked for a button instead of a metal clasp, more room in the seat as well as a longer cut in the leg.

“More casual,” she said, explaining that because they are in a natural fibre, men are wearing them from work to the golf course in the summer — which would not be possible with a synthetic fibre as it would be too hot. They are also wearing them while out boating and for other outdoor activities. “It’s becoming a Saturday short,” she said.

In an interview with The Royal Gazette in August 2013 during TABS’ earliest days, she described the shorts this way: “They are very, very well made. Everything is double stitched.” She explained that they are cut from pre-washed cotton twill, which is light, breathable and will go through the washing machine.

She also said that every pair incorporates a tiny Bermuda Triangle motif, embossed buttons and a triangular belt loop. “The triangle runs throughout,” she said then. “There’s a whole lot of Bermuda inside every pair.”

Among her new colours are palmetto green, coral beach and reefline blue — “the colour of the water just as you get to the reef,” she said. Her winter colours included poinsettia red, cedar green, cahow grey and Black Horse Tavern black”.

She explained she changes the colours seasonally, depending on what is in style and on the feedback from her customers.

“Everything is limited edition,” she said. “Sometimes people are disappointed when they want a colour and we don’t have it anymore.”

However, she said: “Bermuda is a small place — you don’t want to see ten other guys walking down the street in the same colour that you are wearing.”

Ms Hanson has achieved another ambition with including a different lining for each colour of short, ranging from bright and colourful tropical prints to more conservative ones.

Also in response to demand from customers, Ms Hanson has now introduced a belt and socks to the line.

Her leather belt — The Bruce — is classic and practical, with the option to switch from brown to black, and a stainless steel buckle that switches to allow for the alternate option. “It goes from casual to formal,” she said.

It is priced at $65 online.

TABS have also introduced socks at $17 in navy blue in a soft cotton/Lycra blend fabric, in packaging which features an antique map of Bermuda, making them attractive enough to be a gift item as well.

Now that demand has increased, she has been able to increase the numbers she is ordering, which in turn means she has been able to reduce her price to $98 from her original price point, which was over $100 mark. “Prices are down thanks to demand — the more people support TABS, the more I can give back,” she said.

And now: “We’ve been in Cooper’s for two weeks” she said, describing it as a soft launch.

“We haven’t even got all of our point of sales materials, and already they are selling really well — I’m very pleased.”

Ms Hanson said her online sales are going well too, with orders from as far away as Australia and Africa, as well as the United Kingdom and the US.

“And Pharrell Williams (famous for his song ‘Happy’) wore Bermuda shorts to the Oscars, and (skier) Tucker Murphy wore TABS at the Olympics!” She said he had bought the shorts himself. “I’m not his sponsor,” she wanted to clarify — but was delighted to see that he wore them.

Now she has found that her shorts are being worn as wedding attire and the belts are popular groomsmen gifts.

Going forward, Ms Hanson aims to build her international market.

“Raising awareness of Bermuda is very important to me,” she said, explaining she puts postcards of Bermuda in her packages when she mails the shorts to customers overseas.

Ms Hanson is already seeing signs of support with Cover Media Group declaring: “Bermuda shorts have to be one of the most versatile trends of the season.” She has included that quote on her website, as she has also included The Hunt Guides statement: “Wherever you are in the world, when you don a pair of Rebecca Hanson’s shorts, you’re transported into the sandy, palm-lined shores of Bermuda.”

But then, international support goes back to Winston Churchill’s day, who said: “The short-pant is a terrible fashion choice. Unless it is from Bermuda.”

Useful website: http://authenticshorts.bm

Rebecca Hanson's colourful TABS Bermuda Shorts with their trademark triangular belt loops and crest (Photo by Akil Simmons)