ADAM BROWN tells us how he made a splash in the swimwear scene with his Orlebar Brown shorts worn by the likes of 007 DANIEL CRAIG, EDDIE REDMAYNE and HUGH JACKMAN
On silver-screen swimear, cool collaborations and Formula One fashion
He is the British purveyor of high-end pool wear, Orlebar Brown, yet despite an incredible A-list following that includes Hollywood heavyweights Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds, models David Gandy and Johannes Huebl and Portuguese footballing sensation Cristiano Ronaldo, former photographer Adam is very humble claiming that actually he “gets excited about anyone wearing a pair of Orlebar Brown shorts”.
We dive into a chat with the man behind the swimwear brand who reveals why Dubai is the perfect place for his biggest store, discusses the perfect partnership he has cemented with Formula One and explains how it felt to see a pair of Orlebar Browns on none other than 007 himself, Daniel Craig, who donned them for the blockbuster Skyfall.
Before you launched Orlebar Brown, you weren’t in the fashion industry. What was the trigger in making such a drastic career change?
I was definitely on the lookout for something to do. I was 40 years old and working as a portrait photographer in London for a range of magazines both corporate and private clients but essentially, I knew it was never going to
places I wanted to go, so I was seeking something new to do. Once, when I was staying at a hotel on holiday, I had just come from the pool and wanted to go to the restaurant for lunch, but they asked me to change – that was really the trigger-point that made me form the idea for Orlebar Brown, a tailor-processed swim short. The idea wasn’t a swim short, it was more a short you can swim in, and that was the fundamental starting point for Orlebar Brown.
It must have been terrifying, daunting and exciting all at the same time…
At the beginning, the fear and excitement were definitely some of my favourite parts. I think that the sense of the unknown, of the opportunity, of what this could be, was all just very exciting. You get to see the idea you’ve been thinking of and formulating in your head come to life and have its own personality and there’s nothing quite like the feeling when customers first start to buy your product.
And you have just opened your first store, and one of your biggest, at The Dubai Mall…
Yes, this is a really exciting moment for Orlebar Brown. Dubai is just one of those places – not only have we been seeing a lot of website orders being delivered to Dubai, but also when you think of places that Orlebar Brown could exist, Dubai has to be one of them. Orlebar Brown is fundamentally about sunshine, travel, happiness and good times, and where better is that expressed than in Dubai? So many of our customers love going on holiday there, so it’s incredibly exciting to open the store in The Dubai Mall, and it’s also in the most beautiful part of it.
Is there anything UAE-specific, or exclusive, that we can expect to see in the new store?
We’ve done a collection of photographic prints that is exclusive to Dubai. The photographic prints are something that Orlebar Brown is very well known for, and we have chosen three scenes of Dubai which we have put onto our shorts.
And you have a range inspired by Formula One?
It’s not so much inspired by Formula One, as we worked very closely with Australian racing driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is an ambassador of ours this year. He has not only been a great customer of the brand, but he’s also been a huge supporter, and it’s been a wonderful partnership to work on. Formula One is one of those things our customers
are always interested in, so working with Daniel on a range of shorts and events and video just made it a great year.
The brand has a huge A-list following. Did you court celebrity endorsement, or did it happen organically?
We feel incredibly lucky in this aspect; we actually don’t do a lot of courting of celebrities. Pretty much, all of the celebrities that are photographed in Orlebar Brown shorts are genuine customers, and I think that’s what makes it extra special. I think the other part that’s really great to see, when you look at the pictures of the celebrities, whether it’s Jay-Z, Jony Ive, or Damien Lewis, is the range, breadth and types of celebrities who are choosing to wear O.B. It’s not just about celebrities, though, I get as excited whenever I see anyone wearing a pair of Orlebar Brown shorts really.
007 himself, Daniel Craig, even donned a pair of Orlebar Brown shorts in Skyfall – what did you think about that?
What else could I think but how amazing. I mean, it was really a very exciting moment for Orlebar Brown, and came completely organically. This was something where we had the good fortune to be approached by the stylist for the film – we gave them some shorts, and were lucky enough to have them be featured.
You have a collaboration with the James Bond movie franchise, how did that come about?
We got the initial phone call about the Skyfall film, but after the success of that, we started to think about how pictures of James Bond appear on pretty much every mood board that
we put together for a collection. There’s always an image of Roger
Moore, Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, whoever, and it just struck
us that James Bond would really be
an incredible partner on a collaboration. It always seemed completely natural, which is always the thing that makes the best partnerships.
Are there any well-known faces who haven’t been spotted in your shorts who you would like to see wear them?
We have a game in the office where we think about who we’d be most excited about if we did see it, and invariably the weird thing is it’s normally somebody that isn’t around, you know “How would it be if we saw Elvis or Picasso wearing a pair of Orlebar Brown shorts?”. For me, that is quite a surreal idea.
Obviously, the weather in the UAE lends itself to being poolside and on the beach. Any tips on choosing suitable swim shorts?
“With my rather pasty white
complexion, I have to go for
more neutal colours”
I think the main thing when thinking about swim shorts is getting the right fit – not too baggy, not too tight – try to get two fingers just inside the waistband; that’s always a good measure to whether the shorts do actually fit.
colour The final is a real part expression we always think of your about personality. is colour; It’s I think a really useful thing for skin colour; if you’re lucky enough to have darker skin tones, you can really celebrate colour. Whereas with my rather pasty white complexion, I have to go for more What’s neutral next? colours.
I We’re and think so at many there such new are an so exciting product many point countries categories in the we that brand’s haven’t we haven’t evolution. reached started, yet such as accessories. There’s so much more we can do in shoes, and even more in outerwear, and everything swim itself. We also want to focus on increasing that customer loyalty to ensure those who love us at the moment will continue loving us.
Adam is excited about anyone wearing Orlebar Brown but has A-list fans including (clockwise from above) Bodyguard actor Richard Madden, Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Craig, Eddie Redmayne and Hugh Jackman