August 12 2011
Lucia van der Post
When it comes to kit for the beach, it’s wise to trust the Brazilians. They know about these things. Take beach bats. All along the beaches of Brazil, a game called frescobol has been played ever since the craze first took off in the 1940s. A small Brazilian company, FB Collection, started by two young men, Harry Brantly (who was brought up in Rio) and Max Leese, decided that since the game was so ubiquitous, it would be worth giving the players something really beautiful to play with.
And so the Lopes Mendes frescobol bat (first picture) was born. It is handcrafted in wood that comes from remnants left over from furniture-making, and all the woods are Brazilian – ipé, massaranduba and cedro, all from certified, sustainable and ethically-guaranteed sources. Each bat is sculpted and finished before being varnished with sun-, sea- and sand-resistant resin. They are, quite simply, things of great beauty, wonderful to handle and to hold.
For now there is just one model – the Lopes Mendes – but in the pipeline is the Ipanema (it will be stripier, made from more varieties of wood) and the Guga (with a hollow centre which professionals apparently like because it gives them greater accuracy when they hit the ball). A pair comes in a beautiful box with two balls and a little history of how the bats are made. They’re £110 for the box and would make a terrific house present.
From the making of bats, the pair have now decided to expand the brand into swimming trunks for men. Like buses, beachwear brands seem to come in multiples. For years there seemed to be only Vilebrequin – now men are spoiled for choice. There’s Orlebar Brown, there’s Charles Finch’s Chucs Dive & Mountain Shop, and here we have FB Collection. Their USP is that they use very lightweight, quick-drying Italian fabric. There are short (mid-thigh) trunks (third picture) and long (to the knee) versions. They come in plain bright colours or patterned (£115-£135).
And finally, something for everyone – they do some gorgeous plain lightweight woven linen towels (second picture). There are some delicious fine stripes and some plain colours, and they’d double beautifully as sarongs. They’re £85-£95 a time.