The founder of men’s underwear label Hamilton and Hare says its boxer shorts pack a punch thanks to their fit and style
Having spotted a gap in the market for well-fitting, high quality boxer shorts, London-based Olivia Francis left the world of advertising behind to launch luxury men’s underwear label Hamilton and Hare in 2012. Since then, the brand has expanded to include a wide range of luxury loungewear, picking up some celebrity fans along the way.
What sparked your initial interest in fashion?
I’m interested in clothes more than fashion and their ability to make people look and feel good. That’s why I love menswear - because it’s not so trend led. It’s more about well-made, wearable clothes and that really appeals to me.
Excuse the innuendo, but how did you get into men’s underwear?
Good question! It was my female perspective on the matter that allowed me to see an opportunity. Compared to women’s lingerie – the underwear offering for men really lacks the quality, style and inspiration of its female counterpart. I wanted to change that.
When and why did you launch Hamilton and Hare?
I was working for the advertising agency M&C Saatchi which is full of creative and daring people with brilliant ideas. It was while I was there that I found the courage to launch Hamilton and Hare in 2012.
What sets Hamilton and Hare’s boxer shorts apart?
Our boxer shorts [wholesaling at £13.33] are our hero product. They’re inspired by the world of British boxing and the original boxing short worn by fighters in the ring, when they needed to look and feel their best. They have a tailored, slimline cut and a more complex pattern that allows for a much better fit than the traditional boxer. They are made in England with great attention to detail, using the finest two ply cotton.
What else does Hamilton and Hare offer?
We have a full range of underwear options including trunks and briefs and have also recently launched a loungewear range featuring luxury sweats, t-shirts and sleepwear, which has been a real success so far.
Who is the Hamilton and Hare customer?
Our customers are men who are looking to add some style and quality to their underwear drawers to match the rest of their wardrobe.
Can you tell me a bit about Hamilton and Hare’s ambassador, Frank Buglioni?
Frank Buglioni is an up and coming British boxer. Born in London he has already worked his way up the ranks to WBO European Super-Middleweight Champion with determination, discipline, commitment and an understated sense of style. It’s these qualities that make him a good reflection of the brand, and its approach to making underwear.
Are there any challenges involved in being a woman designing men’s underwear? How have you learnt what men want in terms of comfort and fit?
We do a lot of research and trialling to get the perfect fit – our first boxer took 14 prototypes to get just right. As a woman, I really think about how the underwear looks, not just about comfort or functionality.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Being my own boss as I never really feel like I ‘go to work’ and I have lots of freedom – when I get an idea I can make it happen in days rather than months or years.
And the worst?
Some might say I have an unhealthy interest in men’s underwear.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Winning ‘Brand Builder of the Year’ at the Growing Business Awards this year. That and quite soon after we launched, 50 Shades of Grey actor Jamie Dornan announced on Twitter that he was wearing our underwear.
What do you enjoy doing outside of running Hamilton and Hare?
I’ve just become a mother [to Myrtle, aged three months] so my free time has been somewhat curtailed recently. I do love to travel though, and recently went to Cartagena in Colombia. I spent the days rambling through colourful streets and the evenings eating fresh fish with a view of the Caribbean Sea. It was my idea of heaven.
What’s next for Hamilton and Hare?
We have lots planned for the brand in the year ahead. Firstly, we’re expanding the collection to include boxing-inspired hooded robes, luxury cotton sweats and joggers. Then in the autumn we’re opening our flagship store in central London. All very exciting.