Jeremy Lang­mead

Don’t sell your­self short — tailored swimwear is cut out for sun, sand and show­ing off

Esquire (UK) - - Style -

Ten years ago, I was hol­i­day­ing in Ibiza with my friends David, Tom and Adam. Adam, who had been a pho­tog­ra­pher ever since I’d known him, had just launched a range of swim shorts. Un­im­pressed with all the baggy, frat-boy styles, he came up with the idea of tailored and flat­ter­ing swim shorts which could com­fort­ably see you through, as he ex­plained, from beach to bar.

The shorts looked and felt good, and we each sported a pair that week. Who knew whether any­one else would feel the same, how­ever; Ibiza’s beaches back then tended to be in­hab­ited by board shorts or budgie smug­glers. Ev­ery cou­ple of hours, when sig­nal al­lowed, Adam’s Black­berry would buzz to in­form us that an­other pair of his shorts had sold. We would whoop with joy each time. Per­haps, we won­dered, we might even see some­one wear­ing a pair on the is­land.

Af­ter a cou­ple of days, Tom spot­ted a young man sport­ing a pair on Sali­nas beach. Let’s go and say hello, Tom said. As we got nearer it be­came ev­i­dent that a con­ver­sa­tion was not go­ing to be an op­tion. The man’s eyes were spin­ning in all di­rec­tions, and his gorm­less smile was clearly chem­i­cally-in­duced. He may have been off his head on the beach, but he clearly had his wits about him when he’d cho­sen to buy his first pair of Or­lebar Browns.

Like ev­ery area of menswear over the last decade, what we want, and what we’ll dare wear, has com­pletely trans­formed. Friends of Adam’s orig­i­nally baulked when he said swim shorts should be more fit­ted and smart; they told him they wanted baggy styles with elas­ti­cated waist­bands. Adam’s re­sponse was they didn’t want baggy chi­nos or suit trousers with elas­ti­cated waists so why should their swimwear be any dif­fer­ent? (Iron­i­cally, this sum­mer a num­ber of fash­ion brands are of­fer­ing baggy chi­nos with elas­ti­cated waist­bands.)

Ten years later, Or­lebar Brown has be­come one of the most suc­cess­ful men’s swimwear brands in the world. It would now be a full-time job to whoop with joy ev­ery time a pair sells. The tailored swim short, with its sig­na­ture side­fas­tener, quickly be­came a game changer and Adam is now re­ferred to as “the king of swim”. Who knew.

Al­though Or­lebar Brown’s best­seller is the navy mid-length clas­sic Bull­dog fit, shorter, fit­ted swim shorts are now the norm; with bright colours in body-con­scious shapes cel­e­brated ev­ery­where. A host of other brands fol­lowed Adam’s lead: ev­ery­one from Tom Ford and Onia to Frescobal Car­i­oca and Dan Ward of­fer sexy rather than shape­less shorts. Even Vile­bre­quin, the colour­ful swimwear brand founded in the Sev­en­ties, now of­fers its eye­pop­ping prints in a tailored rather than tra­di­tion­ally floppy fit.

There are a num­ber of rea­sons why today we want the cloth­ing in wardrobes to fit bet­ter and stand out more. We tend to be in bet­ter shape, as a gen­der, than we were 10 years ago. Boot camps, Fit­bits and smart­phones with heart mon­i­tors en­sure we are all more body-con­scious than ever be­fore; veg­gie op­tions, sushi and salad bars help us eat more bal­anced meals at our work sta­tions; while In­sta­gram makes sure we want to look cam­era-ready on hol­i­day.

The lat­ter, in par­tic­u­lar, has had a huge sway over our swimwear.

Back in the day, hol­i­days meant you could let it all hang out as no-one but your near­est and dear­est would see you with your belly hang­ing down to your flip-flops. Now, you can barely pick up a ne­groni with­out it pop­ping up on some­one’s so­cial me­dia plat­form; and half the plea­sure of go­ing away is let­ting those you left be­hind look on with envy as they scroll through your In­sta­gram feed. We no longer only need to get beach-ready each sum­mer, we need to get snap-ready, as well. And a neat pair of flat­ter­ing, brightly-coloured, fil­ter-friendly shorts will help you achieve that. Hol­i­days are about sun, sand and show­ing off. One rea­son why, at the time of writ­ing, 13,600 buff men have posted pic­tures of them­selves in their swimwear with the hash­tag #or­lebar­brown.

By Thun­der­ball!: Sean Con­nery sweeps Clau­dine Auger off her feet, Ba­hamas, 1965

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