Hydrophobic nanotech swim trunks defy water, stains

These trunks designed to repel water promise to make soggy swimsuits a thing of the past, but months after being funded on Kickstarter, some backers are complaining.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
3 min read

Frank Anthonoy swim trunks
These shorts are designed to repel water, soda, coffee, and other liquids. Frank Anthony

Hydrophobic nanotech clothing has been around for a few years, but it usually comes with a limited lifespan. The Silic T-shirt, for example, smashed its Kickstarter goal with a piece of clothing that maintains its water-repelling properties for about 80 washes. Frank Anthony swimwear has just debuted on Kickstarter with a better promise: it will never lose its nanotech magic.

Months after being funded, however, the project is under scrutiny from some unhappy backers.

The swim shorts are cut in a classic fashion. Looking at them, you wouldn't guess they have special water-repelling properties that mean you can go for a dunk in the ocean and then sit down in your car a few minutes later without sogging up the seats.

"This is a completely new and unique fabric we have developed in partnership with our supplier, and it has been tested rigorously to be able to withstand detergents, salt water, and chlorine, making it unique from other nanotechnology clothing you may have seen in the past," Franky Shaw, CEO of Frank Anthony, tells CNET.

"We have created a unique polyester blend that incorporates hydrophobic nanotechnology within the fabric, making it completely free of any hazardous effects topical nanotechnology coatings may possess. With the nanotechnology inside the fabric preventing all water-based substances from absorption, you are able to freely wash our shorts just like any other clothing item, without the fear of reducing its hydrophobic capabilities," says Shaw.

The swim shorts come in a variety of different colors and patterns, from standard manly camo to more whimsical scenes of beaches with the surf crashing up against rocks. Each set of trunks costs a $62 pledge for the fancy pants or $43 for standard black or white. I don't know how pricing for men's swimsuits works, but that would be pretty inexpensive for a woman's suit.

Shaw may diversify the nano line. "If we are successful, we plan on expanding our swimwear line into the female swimsuit market. We understand the market is much more competitive, but we are determined to incorporate scientific advancements in nanotechnology with swimwear to provide our users with the best possible swimming experience," he says.

The Frank Anthony project raised nearly $81,000 and was successfully funded on June 25 last year. A January project update noted that final shipments of the shorts had been sent, but backers are still leaving comments about not receiving their orders. "Still waiting, no shorts and no replies," wrote backer Kristoffer Amiridis on May 2.

A different backer contacted CNET, calling the Frank Anthony project "fraudulent" for a failure to deliver products as promised. CNET contacted Franky Shaw about the issue and received this response signed by "Legal Team, FA INC": "We have a pending lawsuit in action against the backer and would not like to express any further comments regarding the progress of the campaign."

Some backers did receive their shorts, but some of those buyers voiced complaints in the comments about the color, quality and hydrophobic properties of the clothing. "They are not comfortable to wear, they do not stay dry, and they do not dry significantly faster than other shorts," wrote backer Scott Phillips in February.

While there have been many successful Kickstarter projects with satisfied backers, the world of crowdfunding continues to be a buyer-be-wary area.

Update, May 19 at 2:20 p.m. PT: This story has been updated to include information about complaints surrounding the Kickstarter project as well as a response from the Frank Anthony Shorts legal team.