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Product Review: These Sustainable Shorts Will Motivate You to Work Out

Depending on where you workout, the way you’re dressed when you hit the gym floor can be almost as imposing as the weight you bench press. While style can’t trump performance, it can sure go a long way to let everybody know whether you’re there to get the job done or just to socialize. The good news is that much of today’s workout gear can not only have a positive impact on performance, it can also make you look great. Whether you’re stuck exercising at home, or making your post-lockdown re-entry, I suggest giving these Vuori shorts a try.  

Material

To start, each pair of Banks is made from four to five recycled plastic bottles — so you can do something good for the planet while doing something good for yourself — for a blend of 44% recycled polyester, 44% regular polyester, and 12% elastane for stretch (that may sound like a lot of stretch, but trust me, you want it). The short is available in either a 5- or  7.5- inch inseam, and features an elastic waistband as well as a drawcord. The short also offers anti-odor properties to keep things fresh.

The pair I tested were the Azure Linen 5-inch. The first thing I noticed was the weight. The fabric is extremely light and thin, but strong. Lighter than most t-shirts. As light as a silk pocket square. On my kitchen scale, the shorts weighed in at 6.6 ounces: my phone was nine. When it gets hot and humid, I want to feel like I’m dressed in air. The only thing I want clothing to do at that point is keep me from getting arrested, especially if I’m knee-deep into a sweaty workout. Any little bit of weight in these shorts comes from the waistband, which features an ultra-soft, smooth-brushed elastic that’s feels great against the skin. There’s a small zippered pocket on the front that’s just the right size for keys or AirPods. There are also front pockets and a single zippered back pocket. Each pocket is mesh-backed so if you wear them to swim, they’ll drain easily. The mesh is also against the short, not your skin, so it won’t scratch (but the mesh feels soft enough I don’t think that would be a problem). The zippers are sturdy, easy to open and close, and don’t get caught in the fabric.

Design

From an aesthetic standpoint, I couldn’t be happier. The faux-fly stitching gives the shorts a sort of formality, so I could feel okay wearing them just about anywhere. I’m not a huge fan of wearing elastic-waist “gym shorts” anywhere other than the gym, for an outdoor workout, or maybe the beach, so these are an exception. I also really like the look of the fabric: Described as “linen,” they have that textured look of a dark linen shirt or a broken-in pair of jeans, further adding a sense of decorum. My pair look a bit darker than those shown on the website, but I liked that. The scalloped hem adds a 1970s vibe that is right on trend this season. I also like that the shorts are not overly branded. There are two subtle logo hits, one on the front leg, another on the back pocket, and there’s Vuori’s tasteful signature dove gray and white drawstring. 

I have been wearing the Banks for at-home workouts where I start with a yoga routine, break for an outdoor run for cardio, then come back home for core. The stretchy fabric is great for yoga, allowing a full range of movement. The shorts are not lined, so I have had to be careful of a few poses that could be — ahem — damaging to my manhood, but I’ll take that as a trade-off for the gossamer weight. (I should also point out that the short’s fit won’t enable any kind of wardrobe malfunction, so if you’re modest, you’re quite safe.) Once I transition to the run, the shorts are cool and light, and when the workout is done they dry quickly, too. The back pocket could be just a tad deeper to fit my phone, but it does fit fine in the front pocket. The shorts are so light that I’d rather carry the phone, anyway, so it doesn’t weigh them down.

Value

The Banks is Vuori’s bestselling short, and I can see why. I’m looking forward to showing these off at the gym someday soon, and they’ll be my first choice if I get invited to a pool party. I’d also pack these for travel since I could wear them almost anywhere and wouldn’t worry if I did get them wet. At $68 they’re competitively priced — even a little cheaper — than a lot of the leading active wear shorts out there. I’m definitely tempted to grab a couple more pair in other hues. 

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