Why businesses should serve a greater purpose
In 2010, Oliver Tomalin launched LOVE BRAND & Co with Trunks for Trunks – a line of swim shorts designed to help save elephants. Since day one, the label has been raising awareness and donating part of its revenue to helping conserve wild elephants and endangered species. Tomalin talks about his passion for summer, pachyderms and building a brand for the greater good
I wanted to create a business for good. I was inspired by other brands who were doing good (environmentally and socially), and at the same time were doing good business. At LOVE BRAND & Co, we love making beautiful beachwear and we love wildlife, believing that one doesn’t have to cost the other but instead can support each other.
I’d just finished my degree in architectural design when I put designing buildings on hold and decided to start a summer lifestyle business. I began selling espadrilles, traditionally made in the hills of Northern Spain, with a stall on Portobello Road every Saturday and a small website. I caught the bug for selling the summer lifestyle and the experience was what led me to launch LOVE BRAND & Co a few years later.
People often ask me what came first – the elephants or the swimming trunks. And there is no simple answer. In fact, I feel my whole life had been building up to the moment of starting LOVE BRAND & Co, because it’s the culmination of all the things I love doing and am passionate about: design, lifestyle, travel, wildlife and my family and friends. I have loved every day (or perhaps nearly every day) for the ten years since starting.
I remember discussing with a friend how there was a clear opportunity to start a new men’s swimwear brand. I was looking to move on from the espadrilles and developing swim shorts instinctively felt like a good move. The eureka moment came while I was walking where I live in London, with trunks (swimming trunks) on the brain. I came across one of the 250 life-sized baby elephant sculptures that were decorated by well-known artists as part of the Elephant Parade organised by Elephant Family, an amazing charity saving Asian elephants. It triggered fond childhood memories of studying these creatures with my father in the wild, plus the thought that they could disappear in my lifetime. Suddenly, ‘Trunks for Trunks’ clicked.
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or luxury
It was at the same time that I met Rose (now my wife), and I designed our brand’s logo – of two elephants coming together forming a heart – on a napkin on our first date together. It has been an incredible journey building the brand with Rose from scratch. A few weeks after meeting, we took a leap of faith and travelled to India together to meet Tara, the elephant from the late Mark Shand’s (founder of Elephant Family) book, Travels on my Elephant. It was a key moment.
Currently we are supporting WildAid, a charity based in the US that is working hard to stop the illegal wildlife trade. I love its phrase, ‘When the buying stops, the killing can too’. It’s incredibly powerful and high impact. We continue to work closely with long-time partners Tusk Trust and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who do incredible work conserving wildlife in Africa. And we are now proud partners of 1% for the Planet, a movement of businesses pledging to donate at least one per cent of revenue to charity each year.
As the brand has grown, our way of doing things has evolved, too. We aim to be environmentally responsible in everything that we do. Our materials and our supply chain are environmentally conscious. For instance, our swimming trunks are made from recycled plastic. They’re quick drying and extremely comfortable. Being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or luxury. The same principles apply across our whole collection, including linens and organic cotton resort wear.
I design the prints and draw inspiration from nature and my experiences. I love incorporating our conservation projects into our prints and for the wildlife in the print not to be immediately obvious. Rather, the animals are hidden within a geometric overall pattern. So on first glance the print might look like diamonds but on closer inspection it is a fever of manta rays. The hidden story is the wearer’s secret and an opportunity to discover and share with friends the story of the connected conservation work. Our unique prints are designed to raise awareness for endangered species and every item sold supports extraordinary charities.
We care about the provenance of all our products: the flax for our linens is grown in France, our cottons are certified organic, our labels, tags and packaging are recycled and our buttons are made from corozo nuts. We use upcycled wood in the fit-out of our physical stores.
Our stores have evolved to become a 365-day, one-stop summer shop. We now sell a summer lifestyle for the whole family. Rose carefully curates an edit of sustainable women’s resort wear brands and beach accessories that share our values and complement our own men’s and boys’ beachwear.
Find out more about LOVE BRAND & Co at lovebrand.com
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