The designer label taking inspiration from James Bond for latest collection

Design label Orlebar Brown accessed the official Bond archive to recreate iconic looks for a new 007-inspired line, writes Paul McLauchlan.

The designer label taking inspiration from James Bond for latest collection

Design label Orlebar Brown accessed the official Bond archive to recreate iconic looks for a new 007-inspired line, writes Paul McLauchlan.

When it comes to James Bond, the images that spring to mind are the various actors who’ve assumed the role as the super spy, the many women who have been the object of his desire, the nefarious villains he’s combated, but also, the scenes of Bond emerging from swimming pools and oceans in swimming costumes. Swimwear is an unlikely but integral part of the Bond universe and this summer, men have the opportunity to try their hand at a Bond moment.

Orlebar Brown has just launched a ready-to-wear capsule collection inspired by Bond’s most famous outfits. From Sean Connery’s blue all-in-one from Goldfinger (1974) to board shorts emblazoned with the Moonraker (1979) promotional poster, creative director Adam Brown covered all bases.

The first capsule was introduced in 2018. It used archive film poster imagery of the film series on the ‘Bulldog’ style, a tailored swim short. Brown said it was, “one of our fastest selling collections to date”. It featured artwork from four films - Dr. No, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Live and Let Die.

The second capsule, released this week, is more elaborate expanding to the periphery of swimwear — light sporty jackets, shirts.

We were lucky enough to get access to the official Bond archive to recreate these iconic pieces for the present day.

The collection is replete with fabrics inspired by those that were worn in the films but ones integral to Orlebar Brown including towelling, linen, and merino.

When Brown launched the label he had already included Sean Connery’s turn as Bond and the associated swimwear iconography on his first mood board. In essence, it is one of the most memorable moments in cinematic history. Hence, the partnership with EON Productions was a no-brainer. “It just seems so natural and never forced,” he told the Irish Examiner.

The foundations of the collaboration were laid in 2012. “It started when Daniel Craig wore our shorts in Skyfall. It highlighted the real synergies between Orlebar Brown and Bond. The reaction to Daniel Craig wearing our shorts was incredible and then really it was by looking at both ours and his DNA and values.

"The fact he is intrinsically British but ultimately international, his spirit of adventure, the humour and of course the style. After the success of the film, we began talking with EON productions and are excited for it to now be available to our customers.”

Orlebar Brown isn’t the only brand to hew on the Bond universe. Italian intimates specialist La Perla made the tight trunks Bond, played by Daniel Craig, wore when he glides out of the clear waters in the Bahamas in Casino Royale (2006). Sunspel also worked on Casino Royale. In 2012, they partnered with Bond costume designer Lindy Hemming to produce an iteration of Sean Connery’s blue trunks from Thunderball (1965) for the ‘Designing 007 — Fifty Years of Bond Style’ exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London.

Amongst the standout pieces in the collection are the aforementioned blue one-piece in towelling from Goldfinger which has been updated to suit a modern man — the fabric is lighter, the fit is more tailored but the novelty remains. How better to arrive at the beach this summer than in a blue one-piece? A tongue-in-cheek outfit made practical for the modern day.

Another is a towelling twist on the velour FILA jacket worn by Roger Moore in 1985’s A View To a Kill, or a safari jacket twist on Moore’s shirt from Bond’s jaunt to Thailand in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Brown said:

Of course, the riviera blue all-in-one from Goldfinger is getting a lot of attention, but my personal favourites are for sheer style the white linen pleated evening shirt inspired by the one worn by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, or the green safari jacket was worn by Roger Moore in The Man With The Golden Gun

In an interview with the Financial Times, Brown declared the younger customer is “urban, earning a decent salary for the first time and going on holiday, maybe renting a villa with a group of friends”.

The collection is likely to attract the nostalgia-tinged gaze of the Instagram generation. But equally, the core customer at 40 years old could be led by similar desires, reminiscing over their childhood or adolescent experience with the Bond franchise.

La Perla also entered the Bond domain designing Daniel Craig’s trunks in ‘Casino Royale’
La Perla also entered the Bond domain designing Daniel Craig’s trunks in ‘Casino Royale’

Creative director Adam Brown and his former business partner Julia Simpson-Orlebar founded Orlebar Brown in March 2007 when they noticed a gap in the swimwear market. In order to electrify the market, they needed to provide the customer with aspirational luxury, a contemporary spin on vacation dressing.

The label counts Leonardo DiCaprio, David Cameron, Jay-Z and more as celebrity fans. Twelve years later, while Orlebar Brown is prized for their clever take on swimwear, the majority of their sales come from other brand pillars — they offer a wide range of outerwear, accessories, footwear. The brand also produces kidswear. In September 2018, Chanel acquired the business for an undisclosed sum.

The French luxury house, worth upwards of €10 billion, has a history of buying luxury businesses including the high-end women’s swimwear brand, Eres. Eres now sits comfortably alongside Orlebar Brown in Chanel’s portfolio, allowing both brands to synergise their respective bricks-and-mortar and online capabilities. At the time, Brown said of the acquisition, “in Chanel, we have found the perfect home for the brand to continue to thrive and grow.

What attracts men to Orlebar Brown?

Brown states his mission is to provide men with a sense of escapism. As soon as they make the purchase, it is as if they are already jetting off to some far-flung destination.

The price point is elevated for swimwear.

The Bond collaboration starts at £145 which is considerably more than most outlets will charge for swimming trunks. But Orlebar Brown distinguishes itself by concerning itself with the same practices as a tailor. The ‘Bulldog’ style, for example, is based on the traditional pattern of a men’s suit trouser. With a shaped waistband, rear darts and adjustable gold side fasteners for a superior shape and fit, the shorts come with net lining for comfort and security.

Orlebar Brown’s collaboration marks the first time a brand has produced a full line of ready-to-wear garments inspired by the films. If anything, the collaboration offers men the opportunity to partake in something bigger than themselves, absorb the characteristics of the Bond universe, and indulge in the summer sun bedecked in outfits originally worn by the world’s most famous super spy.

Brown said: “We all love his sense of adventure, the gadgets, his international lifestyle as well as the whole heritage of Bond, his sense of style, the way it has evolved over the years.”

The collaboration touches upon many of the various moments in Bond history giving it a ‘generation-less’ appeal.

“I think probably most of us secretly have had moments when we wonder what it might like to be him – and now we can.”

Orlebar Brown x EON Productions starts at £145. It is available at plus selected department stores globally

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