After returning home from a particularly illuminating vacation, portrait photographer-turned-designer Adam Brown noticed two things: 1) the sheer number of guys wearing unflattering, baggy swimsuits and 2) the fact that every time he and his compatriots quit the waterside to grab a drink or a burger, they had to change into a pair of proper shorts. Brown realized there was a need for trunks that were less “swim” and more “short,” that is to say, a versatile trunk that could go from beach to bar.
With that in mind, Orlebar launched in 2007 out of Mr. Brown’s London apartment with a self-financed $65,000. The goal was simple: create a short you could swim in — not a swim short. Inspired by the iconic Slim Aarons pictures of Riviera and Palm Beach life — think gents in natty poolside attire — his swimsuits are based on the traditional, 17-piece pattern for men’s trousers. The reason? Like a well-cut suit, a trim, tailored trunk can easily compensate for any, shall we say, shortcomings you may have. Their shorts supersede fashion (with a capital F), created to be timelessly flattering in a slew of available colors and patterns, as well as an incredible photographic series in which iconic photos are imprinted on the trunks.
Brown’s success has led to a number of collaborations — Bill Amberg and Monocle in 2010, Eley Kishimoto and Alan Aldridge in 2011 (both of whom made exclusive prints for the shorts), and Gilt MAN alum Nick Wooster in 2012. The label has also expanded into a full resort collection, taking the signature styling of their swim trunks to Riviera shorts and chinos, tailored jackets, polos, and more. Counting guys like Jay-Z and Ryan Reynolds among the brand’s customers, men of all shapes and sizes should rejoice — from the shores of Seaside Heights to the sandy beaches of Capri, dressing for the beach and the bar has never been easier or more stylish. Now please, throw away those baggy board shorts.