It All Started With a Tailored Swimshort

Orlebar Brown founder Adam Brown recalls the early days of the jet-setting men’s brand, which has a new store in Montecito

In Partnership with ORLEBAR BROWN
Words by


Founder Adam Brown.


“There was no big plan,” says Adam Brown, describing the launch of Orlebar Brown, the London-based menswear line he founded. Rather, he notes, “there was a particular moment.” Brown, a photographer who was traveling in Rajasthan, India, during the summer of 2006, went from the pool to lunch wearing swim shorts and was asked to change before entering the restaurant. “It set me thinking, ‘I want a short I can swim in,’ nothing more dramatic than that,” he adds.

The next year, Orlebar Brown launched quick-drying tailored trunks in four lengths. The line has evolved to include key pieces centered around vacation essentials like polo shirts, linen blazers, smart trousers, and outerwear. Reworked Larson swim shoes designed for salt water and a sustainably sourced line of made-in-Italy sunglasses are new on the roster. “Everyone had swim as part of their collection, but they didn’t have swim at the center. That informed everything,” Brown says.


ORLEBAR BROWN Hibbert shirt, $445, and Bulldog shorts, $395.


He credits Simon Long — the line’s design and collections director, who spent years at Paul Smith — with monitoring fit, fabric, and sourcing. “He knows the proper weight of merino and how men want things to fit,” Brown says. The trunks are based on men’s bespoke trousers, and more than 60 elements go into the construction of each pair. The company worked to make shorts sustainably and is moving toward B-corp targets. “To wear our shorts, you’re probably on an airplane, on a road, it’s not lost on me. It’s a central part of all the conversations we have. But if we don’t travel and experience other places, we’re just narrower people,” Brown says.

With a newly opened Montecito boutique joining an already established location in Beverly Hills, Brown, who is just back from The Ashram in Calabasas, is reminded that he tested some of the line’s first samples while visiting Venice Beach years ago. With the global move toward new trunk heights, the Setter (a shorter version of the best-selling Bulldog) has nearly caught up. And graphic patterns created by illustrators and artists alongside Slim Aaron’s classic images of Palm Beach and Eden Roc — now also splashed across resort shirts for the first time — give the beach-bound more tailored options than ever.


ORLEBAR BROWN’s new Montecito boutique. PHOTO: Meg Sandu Photo.


Feature image: British actor Jonathan Bailey is the face of the brand.


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2024 issue of C Magazine.

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