Having been a photographer for most of my life; [or my golden years at least] I’ve grown quite accustomed to the standard trajectory new brands take when launching- an overpriced, over the top invite to a fashion show, bland cocktails to celebrate their capsule collection or some sort of pop-up where the underpaid models stare aimlessly for hours on end while prospective consumers walk around taking full advantage of the open bar and zero attention to the brand.
This summer, I was pleasantly surprised with a one of a kind invite, not to a stark fashion show or pop-up but instead- an invitation to experience a brand from the inside out with a weekend in the Hamptons to truly grasp the lifestyle that embodies swimwear for the modern man- by Brownlee. I was immediately intrigued, as the invite came from the designer and founder herself, Christina Curry Chapman, whose grandfather, the patriarch of the family was her original inspiration and owner of the grandiose home we would be spending the weekend in. Much like the brand itself, Christina decided to reimagine the traditional lookbook and instead, handpick a number of influencers who accurately represented the brand, close friends and even Brownlee employees to live and breathe the Brownlee lifestyle over the course of the weekend. “I have an enormous family, the majority of whom are men, which led me to subconsciously identify where their wardrobes were falling short. That said, the clothing the men in my life wore, did not meet the broader lifestyle proposition they so badly needed. One either had a beautifully made swimsuit or a great pair of athletic shorts, and often, carried both with them.” says Christina, “My goal was to create a new standard for men’s swimwear, which not only emanates traditional Hamptons style but most of all comfort, because when a man feels comfortable he will instantly exude confidence.
My first impression of the house when we arrived was sheer grandeur and beauty. The stunning South Hampton estate spared no expense both indoors and outdoors. From the stunning 1960s interiors to the remarkable pool deck and stables that surrounded the main building, each nook celebrated with beautifully patterned wallpaper and bookshelves among bookshelves of vintage collectables sure to inspire anyone that stepped foot inside. You were almost immediately time warped to a time of lavish summer soirees generations and generations before had once experienced.
Much like the swimwear trunks; each inspired by a different family member; as were the rooms each one of us was assigned to. While each room was a different color and vibe, all had the same standard of thought out detail and luxury, with the towels and sheets each engraved with hand-woven initials.
The swimwear itself was just as comfortable and inviting as the home; so much in fact, none of us changed out of them throughout the weekend. Boys will be boys – and much of the weekend was spent taking advantage of the great outdoors, playing football, goofing off on the trampoline and good old-fashioned pool time. Brownlee served as the perfect transitional piece; I slept, tanned, shopped, ate and went out with my trunks cutting my summer wardrobe down significantly- which is pretty much what every man wants to hear when it comes to packing for any trip.
Women have long figured out that swimwear is basically the equivalent of being naked, therefore one must carefully curate their swim wardrobe where looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. Christina has managed to translate that same mentality into menswear; knowing very well that unlike women, men typically own between 3-4 swimming trunks at most, and if they are only buying one per summer, it better be one that checks all the boxes. Not to mention all is designed and produced in the grand US Of A in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, a first for men’s luxury swimwear.
The weekend was nothing short of amazing. A group that started as complete strangers was quickly drawn into a tight knit family, as it was impossible not to with the carefully curated agenda Christina and the Brownlee team had in store. After spending the days in the sun, our first family style dinner was a night out in the town at South Hampton’s Tutto il Giorno, your typical cozy, traditional Italian where everyone let loose with homemade pasta and plenty of wine. In standard Brownlee fashion, no detail was spared; one of the guests invited to the weekend experience was Brendon O’Hara, an uber talented musician who served as our personal LIVE Spotify throughout the weekend, both on the piano and guitar. The next evening it was only appropriate to throw our own lavish summer soiree to end the weekend on a high note. Christina and the Brownlee team came fully equipped for a classic Hamptons feast with all the favorites needed to recreate a New England clam bake, Maine lobsters included. Served in the grand dining room as many feasts Sir Brownlee must have done so many times before, countless stories and laughs of the weekend were exchanged and those who were once strangers slowly became family.
If this first collection and experience is any indication of what Brownlee has in store for the future, I can truly say this is just the beginning of a great brand. With its rich history and passionate lifestyle comes careful research, where comfort and style are king. Watch this space, watch this brand and as Christina Curry Chapman says, “Now, put these on and go try the beach again.”