Hamilton and Hare | Bespoke Boxers | Words by Richard Benson
The new school of British luxury goods makers tend to be very good at two things; reinventing basics, and updating old classics for “the way we live now”. Olivia Francis, founder of underwear and loungewear brand Hamilton and Hare, is one such case in point.
Francis was working as an account director at M&C Saatchi when, attempting to buy some boxer shorts for her brother, she noticed that men’s underwear hadn’t really changed for almost 30 years (“and boxer shorts have so much excess fabric, they’re really uncomfortable with slim trousers, they roll up all the time”). Hamilton and Hare – Hamilton’s her middle name, Hare “because hares box, and we started with boxer shorts” – was born when she enlisted a Savile Row tailor to redesign them, using six pieces of cotton rather than the standard two to achieve a more fitted shape.
The increased comfort, which frankly has to be felt to be believed, attracted fans around the world, and in four years she has gone from selling via her website and delivering personally by hand to save money, to retailing in upmarket stores and opening her own shop last year on the new-luxury hotspot of London’s Chiltern Street.
Since the success of the boxers, she has applied the basic reinvention principle to loungewear, creating a range of tailored sweatshirts, hooded tops, T-shirts and track trousers for wearing at home when you want to be comfortable without looking like a dad on sportsday.
She has also created a cotton waffle travelwear collection that surely features the first trousers in the history of mankind that could genuinely be worn comfortably on a long-haul flight and straight into a meeting at the other end.
“I like going to overlooked categories of clothing and just making them better,” she tells me one afternoon, in the basement of her shop. “And it’s about how the clothes make men feel. Modern luxury isn’t about who sees the massive logo or the fact you spent a lot of money on a statement bag or piece of clothing. It’s about you knowing that actually the thing has nothing on the outside but its thought through and makes you feel good when you use it. That is true luxury now”.