I had the opportunity to sit for a little chat with Adam Brown, founder of the British designer fashion label Orlebar Brown. Two reasons made me reach him: the passion for photography and for IWC. Since we couldn’t meet face to face, I had to resort to a digital ideas exchange.
- Dear Adam, thank you for taking the time you share with us today. From photography to men’s swimwear is a big career change. What was the decisive click?
Adam Brown: The decisive click moment for Orlebar Brown came whilst I was on holiday when I had to change for lunch. I was staying at a hotel and I was wearing Swim shorts and was asked to go and change to get into the restaurant and that’s where the idea of a tailored swim short came from. It wasn’t so much a swim short, but more having a short I could swim in. The swim shorts are based on a traditional pattern of a man’s pair of trousers. There are over 60 elements in each pair of shorts. This was to have a versatile product that could take you from one place to another, the idea was a transitional item which you could wear not only by the swimming pool, but also in the resort for having lunch and going into town to go shopping and is something that has continued as the collection has evolved. All of our product, although they are instinctively about holidays, they are also able to be worn for many other functions around holiday.
- How does it feel to dress James Bond? Especially in such a personal and intimate way?
Adam Brown: Fabulous – of course. The opportunity originally came out of the blue but has evolved into something more. With shared DNA and values around adventure, travel, protection, humour, tailoring and of course with 007 being intrinsically British but ultimately international the fit was perfect.
- From OB around the world to watches: besides an exceptional swimsuit, all the collectors appreciate to have an exceptional wristwatch on the beach. How does Orlebar Brown fit the watches in its collection?
Adam Brown: The Portugieser is a watch that has been around for a long time and IWC were very clear about how they wanted to talk about the watch this year and it was something that absolutely fitted with what Orlebar Brown is about so it was just very easy and there was nothing difficult about it. That elegance, that refinement, the approach to tailoring, the attention to detail, many of the key fabric basis that Orlebar Brown has had in its collection for quite a while.
- IWC is a renown brand when it comes about the relationship of the men with the sea. How the relation between Adam Brown and IWC evolved? What is your personal IWC story?
Adam Brown: It started with an email and as an introduction and went on as a ‘get to know you’ phase with Christoph Grainger-Herr and Christian Knoop at IWC. I think the important part of any collaboration is that it is fun and obviously having a shared DNA and values and the two brands have come from the same place. The creative process involved meetings, phone calls, emails and a lot of throwing ideas around, it was really a true collaboration. It was very important to me that we both contributed to the watch and the design of the collection. It was very much a collaborative process.
- As a photographer, I know you have a visual concept of what the final image looks like. How did you imagine first an Orlebar Brown IWC moment?
Adam Brown: IWC came to us with a very clear brief and mood boards. The Portugieser has a particular elegance but also sense of adventure. The name Yacht Club placed it firmly on the seas. The IWC customer is the OB customer. We know who they are, it was an easy visualisation. Big blue skies, open seas, nothing frantic about this sort of sailing but it has a speed to it, an excitement and sense of exploration and life experiences everyone wants to have.
- I hope this collaboration will grow in time. Do you already have ideas in this direction?
Adam Brown: There are always conversations going on. There’s nothing to talk about at the moment but, watch this space.
I would like to thank again Adam for its time and amiability and IWC Schaffhausen for helping this happen. The release and full hands-on review of the IWC x Orlebar Brown Collaboration can be found here: IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition “Orlebar Brown”.