Brands You Should Know

Orlebar Brown

The label’s founder on taking the brand out of the pool and onto the street, the formula for the perfect fit, and the perennial enemy of style.

Before founding Orlebar Brown, Adam Brown was a photographer — a professional background that’s especially evident in the label’s latest collection, which is partly inspired by beach photography and illustrations of mid-century Miami surfing scenes. Here, Mr. Brown riffs on the OB aesthetic, fit, and future.

How would you define the Orlebar Brown guy?
The OB man is someone who cares about clothes but is not dictated to by fashion. He enjoys clothes that already have their own evolved sense of style.

How would you define the Orlebar Brown aesthetic?
Orlebar Brown started by offering a tailored approach to swimwear — not just a swim short but a “short you can swim in,” something you wear on the beach and by the pool, but also smart enough to wear to lunch or drinks with friends.

How did you arrive at your signature fit?
Each of shorts are created from a 17-piece tailored suit trouser pattern. The detail is intricate — four-piece shaped waistbands, darts for shape, zip fly fastenings. Every item we execute is rooted in the belief that form follows function. With well-cut and slim fit pieces as well as lean silhouettes and understated simplicity, our shorts look great on all body shapes. Baggy clothing is the enemy.

How does your professional background influence the collection?
Working in photography has had great influences on our designs, and photography has become instrumental to how we interpret an OB way of life. Our first OB edition shorts featured my own photography of dogs (my own and of friends), and then we delved into the archives of Hulton Getty and hand picked photographs that really resembled what we wanted to achieve with the collection. The photography of Slim Aarons has had huge influences on us with scenes of a 1960’s riviera lifestyle. We keep developing our involvement with photography, most recently collaborating with Gray Malin and his aerial views of beaches.

What drew you to mid-century Miami as inspiration for this collection?
The landmark hotels around South Beach really represent the original home of resort living. They represent an era which enabled people to go from the beach to the bar, a free-spirited approach to life. The Cuban references of color and music provide a wealth of reference points that are true to Orlebar Brown.

The Orlebar Brown collection now includes shirts, trousers, accessories, and even outerwear. What’s next?
OB launched in 2007 with four styles of swim shorts in just five colors. We now have over 300 styles and color options in the collection with over 55 percent of our sales coming from ready to wear. It’s been great to take Orlebar Brown off the beach, out of the pool… and into the resort. I don’t want to say too much about what we have planned, but why couldn’t we offer sunglasses, beach bags, and shoes?

Can you name a few favorite pieces from the collection we’re selling on Gilt?
For me I do love the classics — our Tommy T-shirt is a fantastic fit with high quality cotton and it feels fabulous on as well, and I also love our classic Bulldog short with our Miami-inspired prints. They’re a fantastic way to create your own identity around the pool.

Let’s face it: Swimwear is a weak spot for a lot of guys. What advice do you have for the billowy-board-short-wearing population out there?
Whatever shape you are, a good, tailored fit works best. Never too tight, but certainly never baggy. If it’s cut well, it will look better — it’s certainly not flattering to have acres of wet fabric hanging from you when you jump out of the pool. Once you have tried on a pair of our classic OB’s and found the right length for you, trust me, you will wonder forever why you didn’t do so sooner.

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