Happy Birthday Orlebar Brown
A look back over ten fabulous years
Each and every customer has played their part in the success of Orlebar Brown over the last ten years; it truly has been a fabulous journey. As we look forward to the launch of our new Spring 2017 collection we wanted to reflect on how we got to where we are today.
In February 2005 I was invited to a friend’s 40th birthday in Rajasthan. The mixed group of friends consisted of about 30 men and women—all well dressed and with their own sense of style but not necessarily obsessed with fashion.
I remember we had to change to have lunch at the poolside bar. This was the defining moment when the idea for Orlebar Brown became clear. I felt there really was a need for a pair of shorts you could do more than swim in.
— Adam Brown, Founder
The aim was to create the original and best tailored ‘short you can swim in’. After trialling nine different factories and experimenting with endless amounts of samples, the idea started to gain traction. A suitable factory was eventually sourced and OB found a temporary home in the basement of Julia Simpson-Orlebar’s Notting Hill home.
The design of the shorts was drawn from the pattern of a man’s suit trouser—a tailored approach to swim shorts with a fit and finish unique to us.
We officially launched on 30th January 2007 with a simple website and an email to database of just 600 names. Great PR, loyal friends and hours of standing in queues at post offices helped to get the ball rolling.
For two years it really was just a case of searching for every order and the culture of looking after our customers was set. Every order was crucial to our success at this point and we realised customer satisfaction is central to everything— an ethos carried forward to this day with our dedicated OB Concierge team. A major breakthrough came in 2009 when we got into Selfridge’s at the third time of trying. The name was beginning to grow and gain credibility. The following year the OB philosophy of creating great fitting holiday clothes was extended to a resort collection of tees and polos.
Celebrating our 5th anniversary in 2012 brought with it the introduction of our first photographic editions. In the same year our classic Setter shorts are worn by James Bond in Skyfall and we picked up the Best Emerging Luxury Brand at the Walpole Awards for Excellence. In 2013 we launched #OBsAroundTheWorld on Instagram—a community that is still growing to this day—where people all over the world share amazing images of their holidays and adventures from across the globe.
By 2012, in just five years OB had established a key hero product in its OB Classic swim shorts, developed its resort wear collection and was stocked in 250 leading stores worldwide.
The first OB edition short was created in 2009 when Tyler Brule of Monocle Magazine contacted OB asking for a special colour short to be created. This sowed the seed of how our OB classic shorts were the perfect canvas for interpretation, celebration and personalisation. Other editions soon followed with people like Alan Aldridge and Marcello Morandini. Our collaboration with Pucci in 2015 saw us combine their fabulous patterns with our distinct tailored style across a 20-piece collection.
Our first store had opened on Ledbury Road, Notting Hill in 2011 with a budget of just £15k to bring the OB aesthetic to life in retail—this year we will hit 20 stores worldwide. Our first US store came in 2016 and we now have stores in Miami, New York and East Hampton while our shorts are available globally in some of the most desirable locations including St. Tropez, Cannes and Forte Dei Marmi.
Design Your Own
Our Design Your Own service also went live in 2016—along with the #SnapShorts app—allowing customers to transform their favourite photos or graphics into their own personalised swim shorts.