Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Adam Brown

The founder of impeccably stylish swimwear line Orlebar Brown on the philosophy behind his tailored trunks—and why yours should be about two inches shorter.

With vacation season in full swing, the smartest move right now is towards the beach. So we thought it was the perfect time to have a chat with Adam Brown, the man behind one of the best swimwear brands on the market, Orlebar Brown (which just so happens to be available now on Gilt MAN). Appropriately enough, we caught up with the London-based designer on his own holiday in Spain to talk about everything from how his line got its start to why you should ditch the boardshorts and get yourself into a trimmer trunk.

There are a lot of swim brands on the market. How do you differentiate Orlebar Brown from the pack?
The idea was never that we were going to be a swimwear brand in the true, “sports” sense of the word. We were always going to be a short you could swim in, rather than a swim short; something you could wear on the beach, by the pool, and then to lunch or to a bar. Our shorts are based on the traditional, 17-piece pattern for men’s trousers. It’s a move away from that elasticized, baggy, floral look.

Your background isn’t in fashion, right? Why the move to starting a brand?
No, not at all. I was a portrait photographer in London. But I went on a holiday where we were all sitting by the pool, then had to go and change for lunch, and I just thought it was a bit stupid. I didn’t see why we didn’t have a pair of shorts we could wear to go grab a burger.

So you wanted to remedy that problem.
Exactly. I didn’t understand the need to sit by the pool in a baggy, elasticized waist swimsuit that I didn’t feel did me, or any other man, any favors. A man of any body shape—fat, thin, whatever you like—if he goes and buys a well-cut suit, there’s no question it’s more flattering than having a voluminous bag just hanging off you.

And then there’s the issue of length. I recently got a pair of trunks that are about two or three inches shorter than my old pair, and I feel it made a world of difference.
Absolutely. I completely agree. Whatever your height, if you’re wearing something down to the knee, it makes your legs appear shorter. If you’re wearing a shorter short—even if you’re shorter or a little heavy—it elongates the body.

I was going to ask you what your ideal beach getaway packing list, so it’s handy that you’re on vacation in Spain right now. What’s in your bag?
I’ve got two pairs of black Setter shorts, a pair of navy Bulldog shorts, our Sebastian polos and Tommy tees in a range of colors, and one jumper (that’s “sweater” for you non-Brits – ed.). I try to keep it very simple, no logos. If I want to dress it up, I do that with sunglasses or a nice watch or something like that.

Sounds like a beach getaway is a time when you’re not worried about dressing up.
No, I do enough of that in London. I really do love sunglasses, so I bring various pairs along to dress things up, but those core items in the suitcase—the Setter, the Bulldog, the Sebastian polos, and the Tommy T-shirts—should be able to see me through pretty much anything I’m doing on holiday.

Orlebar Brown, available now on Gilt MAN.

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