Last year we celebrated two decades of Nzo.
That means this year marks the coming of age of our most unruly offspring, the shorts we call Dobies.
That is Dobies. Not Doobies, as some of you would have it. And certainly not Dobbies, which has its faction but sounds like a bunch of horses. Dobies. Pronounced ‘dough’, as in doughnut, followed by ‘bees’, as in… well, bees.
We were not the first to call them that.
We did invent them, at a time before there were many ‘mountain bike shorts’, no industry standards, and only the most rudimentary internet to let anybody know what was going on anywhere else.
We had a shop in the main street of Rotorua, with a sewing room out the back. We tried products out on our small but enthusiastic group of customers / crash test dummies, and because they knew where to find us we fielded their complaints, listened to their suggestions and sometimes drove them to the emergency ward.
We had only been open a couple of months when we sketched out a pair of shorts using a combination of stretch knit fabric and woven canvas. We used a drawstring elastic waistband, and stuck a micro fleece pad in the crotch to take the edge off.
We added a cargo pocket, and front hand pockets, and made ten pairs.
The same day we hung them in the shop we put a clipboard on the counter, and offered some sort of prize for whoever came up with the best name and added it to the list.
We got some good ones - a few got used later on other products - but the best on the day came from young Jake.
That first ten pairs went out into the forest, and didn’t come back. So we made some more.
We have made many versions since then, maybe more. Updated the pattern, changed the fabrics, added pockets, removed pockets, made them a bit longer, added pockets back, changed the fabric again. Updated the pattern again.
The things that made them Dobies remain, and as a short they are still out on their own evolutional limb.
Nzo is still in Rotorua. Dobies are still our best selling product.
We imagine young Jake is now Mr Jake, but we haven’t seen him in a while.