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An Interview with James Duigan

Orlebar Brown and Bodyism have been neighbours on Westbourne Grove since they first started. To celebrate our new collaboration we caught up with James Duigan, the man behind the movement, to get his thoughts on the collection.

Orlebar Brown + Bodyism

What was the inspiration behind the collaboration and what brought the two brands together?

Adam and I have been friends now for 15 years, we both started our businesses at the same time and they’ve grown in mutual admiration over the past decade. I feel that we both reshaped our respective industries and so it felt right to work together to innovate and pioneer the luxury active wear market. The moment that ignited the collaboration actually came when one of our favourite customers came into Bodyism for a shake and then over to Orlebar Brown for some holiday shopping and suggested that now was the perfect time to work together.

Where do you see people wearing this collection?

This is a cool marriage of style and function. I see people wearing this to the gym, in the gym and quite happily to lunch afterwards while looking and feeling good the entire time. A lot of the design and functionality was inspired by the fighting arts of boxing and Jiu Jitsu—I wanted to design a collection that you could fight in and then go and have turmeric lattes on Westbourne Grove without skipping a beat!

What do you look for when buying clothes for the gym?

Mainly, I look for comfort—fabric and texture is everything and so is the cut. There is a really fine line between being too slouchy and looking like you’re in pyjamas or being too tailored and looking like you’re trying too hard. I think we’ve found the perfect balance with this collection.

Your ethos is all about the ‘why’ behind fitness, how do you keep your motivation to stay in shape when you’re travelling?

Well my ‘why’ never changes. My ‘why’ is to be healthy and energised for my children and that will stay the same no matter where I am in the world. I like to instil routine too when I travel. The first thing I do when I get somewhere new is exercise. If I am by the water, I surf, if I am near a gym I do a simple routine of 15 minutes yoga, 15 minutes cardio and 15 minutes strength training.

Can you talk us through some of your fashion and sporting inspirations, do the two ever overlap?

They are almost one and the same. Muhammad Ali is my number one; he’s one of the most stylish men in history. Also, in terms of fashion, Steve McQueen was the coolest—he’s tough, stylish, rugged and effortless—he had it all! He was the guy that did stuff and was confident and comfortable in his own skin. Roger Gracie is the best that ever lived in terms of Jiu Jitsu and yet he remains humble, unassuming and cool. Sporting icons always manage to combine talent with style. They all seem to have an inner confidence that drives the choices they make in what they wear. There is always an overlap with style and they are the ones that get remembered.

And finally, what are your favourites from the collaboration?

I love them all because we designed them for me! They are all brilliant—I love the Leonardo sweatshirt because you can wear it anywhere and with anything. The sweatpants are the perfect cut and so comfortable. I get just as many women asking where they are from so anyone can wear them.