The premium brand is on a mission to smarten up men’s summers with its tailored swim shorts.
I love the fact you don’t have lots of wet fabric flapping around, which makes them very comfortable to wear,” says Adam Brown, founder of premium swim shorts brand Orlebar Brown, as he puts his holidaymaker hat on to speak about the experience of wearing The Setter short (a retro-sport style) by the pool.
Brown is pioneering a new wave of swim shorts for the discerning man, an ambition that ties in nicely with the burgeoning trend for men dressing better and with a more sartorial eye. Orlebar Brown, or ‘OB’ as it is affectionately known, was one of 80 brands to launch on etailer Net-a-Porter’s Mr Porter menswear spin-off in February. The brand claims the etailer’s editor-in-chief Jeremy Langmead, designer Henry Holland and former Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan are fans of the brand.
Gemma Phillips, Orlebar Brown’s international sales manager, tells the brand’s story: “Adam was on holiday in Rajasthan in 2005 for a friend’s 40th birthday. About 30 people were there, between the ages of 25 and 50. They weren’t a vain bunch, but they cared about clothes. Adam used to be a photographer and he noticed the women looked great but the men looked dreadful, either in jaunty boxer-type shorts, long board shorts with their bums hanging out or in tight, high-cut briefs. So he enrolled on a drawing course at Central Saint Martins College, and started selling in 2007 from his spare room.”
Since then the brand has notched up 200 accounts globally including 26 in the UK. Indies Sarah Coggles and Jules B have bought into the shorts for spring 11, which have an average wholesale price of £52 with a 2.5 mark-up. Orlebar Brown also sells polo shirts and T-shirts, as well as a tight range of womenswear which will expand into a full offer for spring 12 including bikinis and swimsuits.
The product has a premium price, but the hardwear does not rust and the shorts are quick drying, says Phillips. Perhaps most appealing is that the shorts are tailored, with a flat waistband, and - to ensure the colours don’t fade - are tested in pools with enough salt and chlorine in to make your eyes water. “The Bulldog short is medium length and the best-selling volume driver. The Setter gets the most repeat orders,” says Phillips.
“A lot of customers are scared to do volume on swimwear, so they rely on re-orders. We are trying to move people towards forward order. But we love people to pick up on a short-order basis. Retailers can buy into our stock programme and we have a minimum order of 50 units. We do stock swaps and make sure customers have what is selling.”
Number of UK stockists
Average wholesale price for pieces in mainline collection
Orlebar Brown 020 7785 6952