Brazil meets Britain by way of Biarritz with Frescobol Carioca, a beachwear brand based in London that’s inspired by the spirit and style of Rio de Janeiro. The story goes that back in 2009, Harry Brantly, who was born in Brazil, gave his friend Max Leese a set of bats for frescobol (Brazilian beach tennis) while the two were on a surfing trip in Biarritz. ‘When the waves were quiet’, says Harry, ‘we’d play frescobol and passersby would stop and watch us, often joining in the fun. We realised in that moment, we had brought a part of Rio to Europe and there was so much more we could do in spreading Carioca lifestyle to a global audience.’
The duo set about crafting beach bats from sustainably sourced wood, linen shirts, après-beach trousers and swim trunks (many with patterns inspired by design details in Rio, such as the black and white waves on the sidewalks at Ipanema Beach) – and Frescobol Carioca was born. Since then, Andy Murray, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mario Testino have become fans. So, we caught up with Harry himself – the man on a mission to spread Carioca-cool around the globe – to get style advice, travel tips and a peek inside his ideal beach bag…
You most recent trip?
We dropped our son off with his grandmother and spent four nights at Ventana Big Sur. What a place! Peaceful, outstandingly beautiful and relaxing. If you’ve never been, go. The sights of the blue sea crashing into California cliffs, plus all that fresh air, will do you a world of good.
And the next?
Aside from my upcoming work trips to Florence, Paris, New York and Miami (a great path around the world), we will spend two weeks at our house in Tuscany. I’m looking forward to late dinners with friends and lazy days spent on little gozzo boats cruising around the bays of Porto Ercole.
Luggage of choice?
For my holidays, I love our weekender bag. It’s perfect for the flight as I can strap it across my back, freeing up two hands, which is the minimum I need when getting kids through security. It works well for a beach or boat day, plus doubles as an overnight bag for a getaway or work trip, as its leather detailing and linen canvas make it super smart.
Your packing style in three words?
Always. Too. Much. I like the packing advice I was once given, but clearly don’t follow: ‘Half the luggage and double the money.’
The first thing you do after checking into a hotel room…
…take a shower. It’s my first test when rating a hotel room.
An ideal hotel must have…
…a pool. Whether for exercise or relaxation, a pool is an extremely worthwhile investment for a hotel, in my opinion.
The best in-flight reading you’ve done lately?
I’ve been a subscriber of The Economist since I was 13 years old, but I don’t get that much quiet time at home these days. That’s why I try to get through as many issues as I can during flights.
Your all-time favourite souvenir?
We impulsively bought some man-sized marble lions on a family trip to Vietnam. I don’t think any of us actually believed they would ever arrive in Rio, but they did and, many years later, they still perch at the entrance to our pool, now covered in tropical vegetation.
What’s typically in your carry-on?
Contact lenses, laptop, mobile and chargers – you don’t want to be stranded somewhere because of flight delays without full connectivity.
Leave an out-of-office message or skip it?
I haven’t had an out of office since I started the business. Often, it’s just easier to quickly reply or ask the right colleague to deal with it – that’ll hopefully save me time in the end.
What’s the best beach in the world?
I grew up spending weekends in the Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande region of Brazil – an area of hundreds of islands that’s two hours south of Rio de Janeiro. If the sea is calm, you can make it by boat around Ilha Grande to the Atlantic side, where there’s a beach called Lopes Mendes. Because it’s fairly unreachable and often battered by the Atlantic, visiting this stretch of sand will make you feel like Robinson Crusoe. One end, where you’ll park your boat, is always calm; the other has perfect surfing waves.
If you could play frescobol on the beach with anyone – living or otherwise – who would it be?
Gustavo Kuerten, the legendary Brazilian tennis player. He won Roland Garros three times and reached world number one. He spends a lot of time surfing now, so I imagine we’d connect over racquet sports and the Brazilian beach lifestyle.
Top spot for a caipirinha in Rio?
The quiet end of Ipanema Beach, near a rocky outcrop called Arpoador. It’s where I’d go to sit and sip, while watching the sunset over the Morro dois Irmãos.
What are three things a visitor should absolutely do in Rio?
It’s somewhat cliche, but a visit to Christ the Redeemer is important. It gives you the vast scale of the city, and until you are up there, you don’t quite realise how interconnected the sea, sand, mountains, forest and city actually are. Then, spend as many sunny days on Ipanema Beach as time allows, and be sure to order an açaí and granola pot on the beach – it’s an unbeatable breakfast, especially after a few caipirinhas the night before.
What are three things they should absolutely not do?
Don’t go for a late-night walk on the beach – it can be dangerous. Don’t think you can take on the Rio sun – it’s much stronger than you think and you will get burnt through the clouds. Don’t miss out on going to a Granado store, where they make beautifully packaged, locally sourced natural body products.
You’ve already taken on frescobol – any other sports you’d potentially tackle with stylish gear? Japanese sumo or Scottish curling, perhaps?
Surfing is a major focus for our brand – we already sell handsurf tshirts and handcrafted wooden boards. Widening our offering there is a natural next step, especially given the growing consumer interest in the sport.
How would you sum up Carioca style?
It’s all about the Cariocas’ attitude – they prioritise having fun with friends and family rather than working 24/7. That’s why they dress so casually – you never know where the day will take you.
How much time do you spend in Rio vs London?
I only go to Rio once or twice a year, but it’s enough to keep in touch with friends and carry out our photo shoots.
What’s the best business advice you’ve heard?
The greatest risk is taking no risk at all.
Any advice for us on nailing a chic beachwear look?
Pairing old with new is a great beach look. For example, mix a brand-new pair of trunks (ideally with a strong, bright print) with a worn-in, slightly fraying linen shirt or Panama hat. It’s a look that combines effortless style and comfort.
Next, take your beach style to Bahia and beyond with our boutique hotels in Brazil.