Love Brand & Co founders Oliver and Rose Tomalin have been chasing the sun together since they met in 2010. With family ties to the Bahamas, the couple have spent last decade developing their ultimate summer lifestyle brand. Their first line of men and boys swimming trunks launched in Selfridges in 2011, and ever since the pair have been redefining beachwear with a purpose. The fact that elephants could be extinct in their lifetime motivated the British couple to add a philanthropic element to their brand. Since day one, Love Brand & Co has donated a percentage of revenue, not profit, to charities helping wild elephants and endangered species through their “Trunks for Trunks” initiative.
What does Love Brand & Co offer that wasn’t already available in the market?
Oliver Tomalin: When we started almost 12 years ago we were one of the first brands with purpose, committed to donating a percentage every sale to charity, regardless of any profit. Over the years we have directly funded and supported some of the most valuable conservation projects around the world, from helping wild elephants in India to restoring seagrass meadows in Ibiza.
Add to that, what makes us different is the feeling our brand creates when you wear our products. And the aesthetic is very personal to me and also very much of the Bahamas, where you have both the feeling of old-world chic meeting care-free island bohemia, topped up with a spirit of exploration and adventure.
How do the Bahamas and your surrounds inspire your collections? My wife’s family have a long history in the Bahamas. Her grandfather was Governor in the 1950s, and her grandmother started the orphanage, as well as the library service delivering books to the outer islands. The orphanage still runs today, owing to the patronage of Rose’s parents.
These Caribbean islands have been important to Rose and provide the underlying inspiration for the brand. Our brand is inspired by island life, which can take you from boats to beaches, or from golf and tennis clubs, or even to rum shacks.
Much of the incredible marine life also informs my prints, while the water and island light inspires our colours. It is about a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle, being understated, care-free and fun-loving, as well as mindful of the environment.
How has the brand evolved since you launched in 2011? And what are your plans and ambitions for the future? We have always stuck to our roots as a brand, focused on our core pillars of island life, travel, sustainability, family and conservation.
When we started, I had little experience in this industry. I studied architectural design at university and then started a small business selling brightly coloured espadrilles.
The retail concept has evolved from an exclusive mens and boys swim label to becoming a one-stop-summer-shop forall discerning travellers. Alongside our own brand, we also have an edit of other brands we love. We offer everything from women’s beachwear to artisanal hats to reef-friendly suncream. And all of the brands we work with have a focus on conservation and sustainability. Looking ahead, it is also our also our ambition to be entirely carbon neutral.
Tell me about the Trunks for Trunks initiative? How do you choose which charities to support and how do you support them? And why was that important to you? I came up with Trunks for Trunks in the bath. It was a eureka moment. I felt for some time there needed to be a new luxury men’s swimwear brand. And while developing plans for what that could be I met Rose and went to the Bahamas. In that same year there was an elephant parade in London, raising awareness for endangered Asian elephants. The fact that elephants, our largest land mammal, could become extinct in my lifetime, struck a chord and later in the day after seeing the elephant sculptures, something clicked—swimming trunks that help elephants—”Trunks for Trunks.”
Over the past decade we have supported some of the most amazing conservation charities, including Elephant Family, WildAid, Tusk Trust, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and more. Since day one we have donated a percentage of our revenue to charities and environmental foundations, choosing a mix of established charities and smaller grass- roots initiatives.
How do you get the inspiration for your patterns and colourways? How often do you launch new pieces? All our prints are inspired by my travels and love of the natural world. Our current collection, for example, pays homage to Rose and my travels to India, when we went into the jungles and elephant corridors. Motifs and colours are drawn from these memories—elephants, Indian palaces, leopards, giant butterflies and great hornbills.
We also sometimes collaborate with likeminded brands. For example, this summer, we released a limited-edition capsule collection with Globe-Trotter luggage. We also launched an exclusive print for the Marbella Club, centred around seahorse conservation and rewilding habitat in the Mediterranean. Later this year, we are launching an exclusive capsule with Harrods in London.
Tell me about the Staniel 100 percent recycled swim trunks. The Staniel swimming trunk is named after the Bahamian island, Staniel Cay, and we make them in Spain, using a fabric made from 100 percent recycled plastic. The fabric’s journey starts when a plastic bottle made from PET is thrown away (PET is the name of the resin used to make transparent bottles.) The bottles are collected and sorted in Europe and Asia, then cleaned and crushed into tiny flakes. The flakes are then melted down and spun to form fibres, the fibres into yarn, and the yarn is woven into our fabric, which is then dyed or printed and finally cut and made into our amazing Staniel swimming trunks.
What is also really exciting is that the swimming trunks can be recycled again and again. So the next stage is to launch a scheme where customers can return their old Staniel trunks, and they’ll be recycled.
What are some of your favourite travel hidden gem destinations and why?One of my favourite beaches is Pine Cay in Turks & Caicos, where we are launching a small retail concept, our first outpost. A good beach break is about disconnecting to reconnect.
What do you always pack in your suitcase? Apart from a healthy supply of Love Brand attire, I also always pack my sketch book. I love to jot down ideas and inspirations when I travel. My wife catches me in the middle of night up in bed writing things down. For some reason ideas come to me at night, and if I don’t write them down, then I forget them in the morning, and it drives me mad for days.
What is your secret for working together as a husband and wife team? We love what we do. I think that is the main secret. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to create something of our own, where we can pour everything we are passionate about into a single project. And then we get to spend every day doing what we love.