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Racked special correspondent Yale Breslin gets up close and personal talking fashion with Adam Brown, the man who has reinvented modern day swimwear.
Adam Brown, the designer of swimwear line Orlebar Brown, has been credited with creating "summers must have shorts," a collection of punchy designs in bold colors that provide a tailored approach to poolside attire. Now, in their latest range, they've moved beyond shorts and have created a well-edited collection of classics: form-fitting polos, the perfect blood red V-neck tee, and a day-to-night cotton long sleeve that will only help to compliment the wardrobes of sartorially-forward dudes. We caught up with Brown from his London headquarters.
You launched in 2007 and have become known as the brand for tailored beachwear. Why was this something that you felt was important to a guy's wardrobe?
Whether it is "important" to be known as a more tailored approach to beachwear is debatable, but it is certainly nice and we definitely felt it was a necessary addition or approach to what was available at the time. Whatever age, size or bodyshape you are, good tailoring always works better and is more flattering. Tall, short, fat, or thin, a well cut pair of shorts, shirt, jacket or trousers will always work better and for a longer time.
I think that before we came along, beachwear always seemed to be (for the most part at least) baggy, shapeless and with pretty garish colors, prints, or patterns. I am not sure anyone would honestly say the baggy, elasticated-waist boxer short styles, shapeless board shorts, or mini briefs are really a useful or thought-out option. With a reference to classic tailoring in all our products, I hope we offer men a longer lasting and more flattering alternative.
For spring/summer 2012, you've moved beyond simple swimshorts, designing sweats, polos, and chinos. What propelled this maturation?
Yes, Orlebar Brown is moving out of the pool, off the beach and into the resort. For summer 2011, we launched OB Resort, which included short and long sleeve polo shirts, and "other or everyday" shorts, beyond shirts and shirt jackets. For 2012, we are expanding on this with more shorts, shirts, and trousers, as well as "sweats," jackets and our first accessories like lightweight scarves, belts, and towels. Although this obviously seemed a logical progression or expansion on the shorts, it was also led by demand from both customers on the website and stock lists. While we are fortunate enough to have become known (quite quickly) for a more tailored approach to swimshorts, this actually presented us with a bit of a dilemma. Although we are confident that all the new products sit well with the original shorts, we are also very aware that it is all too easy to dilute a story very quickly. Nobody wants to grow up too fast.
What differentiates, say, a OB polo from that of a Ralph Lauren or Lacoste polo? What makes yours unique?
Just as the shorts are to be worn on and off the beach, our shirts have that dual functionality. They look great on holiday but are also smart enough to wear various work environments, but they can also be dressed up with a jacket and trousers for an evening in the city. While not wanting to really comment on anyone else's polo shirts, I feel for us it's all about the details—going that extra bit further.
What materials did you reference for this collection? What inspired your designs?
The reference points for Orlebar Brown are varied. While using obvious visual references such as the Talented Mr Ripley, Dr No/007, David Niven etc., we have also been very aware of the subjects and colors in the photography of Slim Aarons, as well as interior designers from the 60's and 70's such as David Hicks.
· Orlebar Brown [Official Site]