Backstory

Chanel Acquires Swimwear Brand Orlebar Brown

Chanel is now the proud owner of a men’s swimwear line.

A few days after it was revealed that Michael Kors’s parent company was buying Versace, Chanel has announced an acquisition of its own and snapped up British swimwear line Orlebar Brown from a previous group of owners that included the founder Adam Brown. Brown will remain with the company as creative director.

“In Chanel, we have found the perfect home for the brand to continue to thrive and grow,” Brown told BoF.

Orlebar Brown was initially founded as a digital brand in 2007, with casual, contemporary swimwear, before evolving into a full resort line in 2010, with T-shirts, polo shirts, knitwear, and accessories. Today, the company says swimwear makes up 36 percent of the business.

After Daniel Craig sported a pair of Orlebar Brown’s blue shorts in his role as James Bond in the 2012 film Skyfall, the brand gained an array of celebrity fans including Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, and the athletes Roger Federer and Tom Brady. According to the Orlebar Brown website, the price range for a pair of the brand’s traditional swim shorts starts at $145 and ends at $345. If you’re feeling thrifty, however, a pair of brief-cut trunks can be bought for $75.

The brand has been wanting to sell since August 2017, according to BoF. Though no financial terms were revealed, Orlebar Brown was estimated to be worth £25 million (about $32.6 million), while Chanel is a $10 billion company. The acquisition of the brand by Chanel is an interesting move, as the brand does 40 percent of its business online, and Chanel remains one of the few luxury retailers that doesn’t sell clothing or handbags online

The acquisition complements another Chanel subsidiary, the women’s swimwear label Eres. It also keeps with Chanel’s preference for buying speciality labels instead of brands that directly compete with its main line.

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