We’ve come a long way from camo board shorts.
Swim shorts, although once an afterthought for most men – hurriedly snapped up in duty-free shopping or put on the back burner until that pre-swim purchase on the promenade – are now likely to sit front and centre on your holiday shopping list.
That’s partly because – in a menswear market that’s rapidly growing – we clearly care more; and partly because swim shorts no longer exclusively come in fluoro Hawaiian prints and fit like tents.
They’re actually stylish now. Sophisticated, even. Cut in flattering tailored fits, covered in tasteful motifs and available in colours that don’t need a hazard warning highlighting the danger of blinding your fellow swimmers.
Leading the sea change is Frescobol Carioca, a Brazilian-born beachwear brand that eschews squint-inducing slogans and shoddy fits for smart swimwear.
Launched in 2009, the brand takes its name from both the Brazilian version of beach racquetball (frescobol) and the Portuguese word for natives of Rio de Janeiro (carioca). Which goes some way in explaining why everything about the brand – from the prints that cover its well-cut swim shorts to the accessories it offers (panama hat, anyone?) – takes its cue from Brazil.
Starting out not with clothes, but the Brazilian beach bats its name nods to, the brand soon after expanded into swim- and beachwear, translating founders’ Harry Brantly and Max Leese’s love of the Rio landscape and the mosaic artwork of Roberto Burle Marx into summer-ready staples that hit that sweet spot between luxe and laid-back.
The brand’s latest capsule collection, Modernismo, follows suit. A premium line of swim shorts, T-shirts and accessories, it’s inspired by the strikingly modernist designs of Rio-born architect Oscar Niemeyer – the man behind the bends, curves and undulating lines of landmark buildings including São Paulo’s Edificio Copan, Brasilia’s Palácio do Panalto and the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba.
What exactly does the work of one of architecture’s most important modernist architects look like applied to beachwear? Put simply: pretty damn good. Niemeyer’s shapes are writ across sports and tailored swim shorts in the form of soft hand-sketched prints, which are in turn set against punchy beach-ready colours including guava pink, aqua and slate blue.
Elsewhere, the eye-catching motifs appear as contrast chest pockets on lightweight cotton jersey tees, or covering accessories including a linen beach towel and a neoprene bat case.
The best thing about this range, though, is that it strikes a smart note without coming across stuffy. Which, when lazing on Copacabana or Ipanema beaches, is exactly what you should be aiming for.
Shop the full collection now at frescobolcarioca.com.