Exclusive interview: meet the man behind Orlebar Brown swim shorts!

Kind & well-mannered, a true English gentleman, the founder of Orlebar Brown, Mr. Adam Brown, explains to #dimitrisgoes why OB swim shorts have become the new classics in beachwear (& poolwear) and what a man should care about when shopping for a swimming suit.

Photos by Ioanna Hatziandreou (this is not another agency).


You have already told the story how this whole idea about Orlebar Brown tailored swim shorts was conceived: you were at a pool party in Rajasthan and although all women were stylish, almost all men were awfully dressed. Has this changed since then?

I don’t visit every pool, but I think there has definitely been a change… Before there were three categories in men’s swimming suits: sport, surf & Riviera-style boxer shorts. We were the first to have started a category that was not there before and that is “smart tailored shorts you can swim in”. People are buying it so there must have been a shift in swim fashion.

What do men should care about when shopping for a swimming suit?

First of all, it’s a mistake to think that baggy, long, shapeless is more flattering. A man doesn’t buy a pair of trousers that is very big or with no shape, but one that fits him. It’s the same with swim shorts. They shouldn’t be either too tight or too baggy. You can be fat or thin, small or big-bottomed, but if it fits you properly, it’s definitely more flattering. Then think about your height. If you are too tall, you shouldn’t wear something too short and if you are too small, you’d better avoid something too long. If you have dark, olive skin, you can celebrate color! Myself, I cannot wear colorful prints. I cannot wear orange… Color is also an emotional thing for me. If you are shy then don’t wear bright yellow but something that you feel more comfortable in.


You have been fashion editors’ favorite since the very beginning. How have you done that?

We started with just four styles of shorts in five colors, so the message was very narrow and clear. It was very easy for editors and buyers to understand exactly what we are trying to do. We have had an incredible support by the press and it has made a huge difference to us. The same with the celebrities. They have noticed really fast, although we don’t have ambassadors or an extensive gifting program. We can’t afford to. But we love the fact that these people actually choose Orlebar Brown themselves!

What are the keywords that connect all Orlebar Brown designs?

Sunshine, travel, happiness, good times! In all these, there is something about color & light. There are also words we don’t do, like “sport”. And by “sport” I mean swimming up and down the pool… Of course, we are active, we are healthy and we are enjoying life! If Orlebar brown was a movie it would be “The Talented Mr. Ripley” or “The Great Gatsby”. It’s that mood!



You are not bohemian in any case…

No, we are urban. The fact that we are tailored, that we started in London or that our customers come from urban environments just traveling for holidays, all these make us very specific. Orlebar Brown is not about camping on a beach…

You have said before that Slim Aarons and his 60s poolside photographs are a constant inspiration. What else inspires you?

I love Slim Aarons because I love the storytelling in his pictures, all this South of France or Palm Beach iconography. But for example, a few seasons ago we did a whole Miami theme collection, you know art deco & all… We have also gone down to South America, the colors, the carnival in Rio. We are trying to take our inspiration, the fabric, the palette, the print, the stories by different places each season. Orlebar Brown is a brand based in London but at the same time very international.

Is Orlebar Brown a bit retro?

There is a timelessness in what we do, yes! Anything we do, it has to be relevant in five years’ time or five years ago. We don’t design just for the moment.


You travel a lot! Would you share some of your favorite places in the world with #dimitrisgoes?

Oh they are so many! Let’s see… This summer I’m going to Cornwell, England which is big waves, freezing cold, but I love it! I have been going there since I was four years old. I am staying at a house on a cliff with waves crushing underneath, very wild! I am also going to Mykonos in August for a week. I am going to East Hampton in June for work and I will have a few days at the beach there. I’ve just come back from Bhutan –went trekking there for 10 days. I love all these places and so many more!

Have you traveled in Greece?

Well not quite as much… I used to come to Athens when I was a student in my 20s to take the ferry to the islands but that was it… I haven’t been to Mykonos for five years but, as I said, I am going there this August!

Could Greece be an inspiration for Orlebar Brown?

Definitely! I will just try to find the right images in the “greek library”. We have done it with St. Barts or Monaco before and it worked!

What about an Orlebar Brown boutique in Mykonos?

Well, this sounds like a very good idea!



The interview took place at Simple Caractere boutique in Kifissia, where you can shiop the complete collection of Orlebar Brown.