Thoughts on the new 007 range of “resort wear” by Orlebar Brown.
Orlebar Brown’s association with 007 started a pair of swimming shorts seen on screen for a brief few seconds in Skyfall. While in Shanghai on the trail of a hit man, Bond swims lengths in his hotel pool.
But while the company’s Setter swim shorts were instant hit with many Bond fans, that tiny on screen appearance hardly made Orlebar Brown the obvious choice to produce a line of 007 branded clothing. That would have been Sunspel.
All the same, the company picked up a licence to produce just that and in 2018 introduced a line of swim shorts with graphics from some of the early film posters. But while they are great posters, the shorts are horrible. And they’re not cheap either.
I’m not typical. Where I live in Spain the beach season lasts three months – and as I do the final edit in early July it’s extremely hot. Polos, short sleeved shirts, shorts and swim shorts are exactly what I need for a good chunk of the year.
In August we take the month off and head to the sea every single day. As a result I need several pairs of trunks – they always get worn out through overuse and damaged through snorkelling near rocks.
Spending 3 x £195 (minimum) every year on swim shorts just isn’t something I’m going to do.
Later they unveiled a more comprehensive range of clothing. In a sneak peek ahead of the launch I was surprised to see the Goldfinger onesie was one of those items. More on that later, as well as the shirts, shorts and jackets from the line, a bathrobe, and some rather expensive espadrilles.
Also, I don’t slavishly buy everything with a 007 connection. I’ve got a Turnbull and Asser shirt, which I love. And when I worked in a London office I’d frequently wear a black knitted silk tie, just like Bond in the books – subtle nods to Bond’s own style.
So, if you love Orlebar Brown and can’t get enough of their products I’m fine with that. Enjoy! But for me the quality of the items don’t really justify the prices.
Having said all that, let’s get into the good, the bad and the ugly of Orlebar Brown’s 007 Collection.
Cardinal Capri collar shirt
This is one of the items in the collection I really like, and seems close to the screen worn shirt.
It looks pretty good and something I could wear in the summer. But since most of my wardrobe consists of dark colours the pink would really stand out. More info
Navy merino polo
Although I’ve often worn long-sleeved polos in the past I prefer short sleeves with another layer on top when it gets cold.
This would tempt me back for sure, although I’d prefer it in black. More info
Riviera/Navy shorter length swim short
While the dark waistband and belt keepers are a little too fussy for me I like the design of these swim shorts.
However I’d need three pairs just to last a season. And then they become untenable. More info
Antique pink day shorts
I can see just myself wearing the pink shirt, but I’m not so sure about the colour of these shorts.
Anyway, I usually wear cargo shorts over my beachwear as the pockets are always useful. Not very Bondlike but, for me, a more practical day-to-day option. More info
Washed indigo espadrilles
This is where Orlebar Brown loses me completely. Espadrilles are common footwear in Spain, where I live, so I wear them year round. And paying £145 for these is insane.
According to Orlebar Brown they’re made in Spain by a traditional espadrille manufacturer. But they aren’t made to a traditional design, so I wonder if the shoes worn in Thunderball were really espadrilles.
These have a canvas upper with an elastic gusset, which is not typical. They also appear to be lined and have a cork inner sole, neither of which is traditional.
And while the rope sole is vulcanised, as is standard, much more rubber is used so that the entire sole appears to be rubber. That may make them more suitable poolside as the sole of espadrilles normally becomes completely rigid after getting wet.
These are certainly luxury espadrilles made to a much higher standard than those usually manufactured in Spain. But given that I can buy handmade espadrilles in Spain for €7.50 shows just how cheap these peasant shoes really are to make.
The cost of materials and labour for Orlebar Brown can’t be more than €20 top. These shoes are a rip off in my opinion. More info
Mid blue shorter length swim short
These swim shorts are very loosely based on the swim shorts worn by Sean Connery while at Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel.
These setter swim shorts match the colour but, with a fly front, are completely dissimilar in every other way. Having said all that the style is great. More info
If you’re one of the many people who have ordered this item you have, in equal measures, both my admiration and ridicule.
I genuinely would love to know who has bought these, the reason (apart from Bond), and where they will wear them. The first run sold out within days!
It’s an iconic item, certainly, but even Sean Connery didn’t really pull this item off. And if Connery couldn’t you can’t either.
The weird thing here is that if it had been screen faithful it would make some sense. But this appears to be made from different towelling with a longer leg than the original.
On the other hand maybe you can expect the see them beside every pool and beach for the next few years. Just don’t expect to find me wearing one. More info
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
White pleated shirt
This dress shirt is based on that worn by George Lazenby at the start of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when he’s on the beach to stop Tracy from drowning herself. It has a pleated front placket but made from linen and so rather more relaxed than that worn by Lazenby.
I do sometimes wear a long-sleeved shirt in Sea Island Cotton to the beach as it helps keep the sun off me, so this would fit that purpose perfectly. More info
Riviera towelling polo
When Bond and Quarrel set sail for Crab Key in the novel Dr No, Bond is dressed in “cheap black canvas jeans and a dark blue shirt and rope-soled shoes”. That sounds perfect to remain undetected on the night crossing so it’s a bit of a surprise to see Sean Connery dressed in a pale blue polo shirt with matching trousers in the film.
But while the polo shirt worn by Connery appears to be made of cotton piqué, Orlebar Brown’s is made from towelling. I can’t really imaging any reason to wear a towelling polo short (unless you want to save on taking a towel to the beach). One of the advantages of piqué is that it is breathable and the idea of wearing towelling in the heat seems absurd.
The polo shirt has ribbed cuffs, which is a nice detail. But the colour looks quite different from the blue worn on screen, although the colour grading done by Lowry may mean my perception of the true colour is off. More info
Mid blue towelling robe
This is a weird one but has a nice touch; it includes a label stating that it’s “The Property of Dr. Julius No, Crab Key”.
For me there are a couple of problems with this robe, other than cost. First the colour seems to be much darker than that seen on screen.
But also the screen used one appears to be quite thin, as you might expect to find on a private island off the coast of Jamaica. This one is made from quite luxurious looking towelling and quite thick. More info
A View to a Kill
Piped towelling jacket
This jacket looks pretty good although it seems to be a copy of the Fila tracksuit top from the film.
It’s made of towelling, so not really my thing. Perhaps it’s good to wear if you don’t want to carry a towel to the beach or pool though. More info
The Man With The Golden Gun
Sage safari jacket
Roger Moore wore a couple of safari jackets in The Man With The Golden Gun, including the lighter shirt on which this appears to be based.
The safari jacket is very much a product of the 1970s and I remember my parents bought me one in blue for some reason.
I kind of loved it and would have loved it even more if I’d known 007 wore one. But we didn’t have the access to the films or the depth of information you can get online, so I never knew.
This one looks great, although it appears to be much thicker than the one worn by Roger Moore at the kick boxing arena. Take a look at Matt Spaiser’s infographic on his Suits of James Bond website which explains Roger Moore’s safari jackets and shirts in detail.
As I write this I’ll be flying tomorrow so this would be extremely handy. Tons of pockets make it ideal for your passport, phone, cables, chargers and whatever else you need for a trip.
I kind of hope this starts a safari suit revival. More info
Diamonds Are Forever
Matchstick towelling shirt
This short is rather similar to the safari jacket but without the hip pockets and with short sleeves.
It might also be good for travelling, but again I’d hate the towelling. Maybe good for poolside, but not something I’d go for. More info