Sustainable Style

Love Brand & Co is making swimwear that looks good, does good

Saving the planet, one pair of trunks at a time

Beach season is here, and, with it, the need to feel confident when practically naked in public. Luckily, there are more brands than ever out there to cater for every sort of personal style and body type hitting the beach, whether your vibe is big, bold patterns or something that shows off all that work you’ve been putting in on leg day. However, for most men, it’s not just about looking good, but about doing good as well, as the sustainability credentials for a brand become increasingly inseparable from the shopping process. For guys interested in both, Love Brand & Co has you covered.

The brand is all about luxury beachwear designed for an audience of globetrotting sun lovers, and dominated by an offering of colourful, printed swim shorts – cut at a flattering mid-thigh length and fitted with an elasticated waist, creating a short that is tailored in style, yet still totally comfortable.

However, while these patterns might catch an admirer’s eye from the other end of the pool, the devil is in the detail. Look closer at these patterns you’ll be able to spot rhinos, turtles, coral reefs and elephants nestled in the graphic patterns on the shorts. These are the animals and plants that Love Brand & Co is trying to save from extinction, a mission that started with the company’s conception back in 2010.

‘At the very beginning, I had the idea of “trunks for trunks,”‘ explains founder and designer, Oliver Tomalin, which would raise money and awareness for elephant conservation projects. ‘Sustainability is a word we’re all trying to understand,’ continues Tomalin. ‘But, for me, it’s about loving the planet.’

As the different prints show, it’s not just about elephants anymore. Nearly a decade on, the company now donates 5 per cent of its revenue from every sale to all kinds wildlife conservation charities, helping projects that protect the most endangered species and habitats on earth. Its ‘Change Your Tuna’ shorts support marine conservation charity ‘Project Zero’, which aims to have 30 per cent of the ocean made into protected zones by 2030. ‘Rhino Rhythm’, meanwhile, supports the critically endangered black rhino by helping protect the Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania alongside Tusk Trust. For Tomalin, ensuring each project is as localised as possible is key to success, as it means you can bring together people who really care about the place, like business people, and local people who know the area and the wildlife, and want to preserve it for their children.

On top of fundraising, the team also make images and videos for each project, helping to create further awareness and reach more people in this digital-first world. ‘We love seeing the projects first hand, so when we’re there we take a camera and a videographer, and create this content that can be given back to the charity. And it also helps us raise awareness for our brand, which in turn leads to more funds going back to the charities. So it’s a win win,’ says Tomalin. ‘I also think we’re all the Attenborough generation now; we feel closer through that beautiful videography.’

One of the biggest challenges the brand has faced in the past decade has been to source the right environmentally friendly materials for its collections. Sustainability wasn’t even a conversation when it started 10 years ago. ‘Recycled materials were not considered cool or desirable or premium,’ explains Tomalin. ‘But it’s evolving so fast now that when we can go back to the same supplier a year later, they’ve already got a better, more sustainable option for us.’

Now, all of Love Brand & Co’s swim shorts are made out of recycled plastic bottles in Spain, from the yarn to the trims to the label, which keeps the supply chain very localised and reduces carbon emissions. Its European linen shirts are made in Portugal, alongside its 100 per cent organic cotton T-shirts. It also keeps its collections quite tight and streamlined, and it sells out every season so there’s no waste. As an added bonus, customers can also bring any old Love Brand & Co clothes back to the shop to be recycled, and given a discount on their next purchase.

Above all, it’s about making it easy for customers to give back in a really seamless way. Starting this year, Tomalin plans on making Love Brand & Co the one-stop shop for sustainable beachwear by stocking other environmentally friendly companies in its stores and on its website, which also give back to planet Earth. Plus, the company’s working with the British Fashion Council on a new positive fashion incentive it’s launching in September, which will require brands to fulfil 17 different criteria to prove how sustainable they are.

‘We’re trying to be as responsible as we can in terms of what we take out, and we’re looking for opportunities to give back all the time,’ explains Tomalin. ‘It’s about making sure that at the end you’ve given back what you’ve taken out.’ And if you can do all that while looking great on the beach too, you’re doing alright.