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Luke Evans shares behind the scenes snaps as he discusses new brand BDXY

"A lot of people say I’ve got thirst trap videos and images on social media," the Welsh actor has told Attitude of the inspirations behind the new collection

By Joseph Kocharian

Luke Evans and BDXY
Luke Evans and BDXY (Image: Provided)

As the pale winter sun floods into Luke Evans and his boyfriend Fran’s London penthouse, I eye up the decor. Any self-respecting nosey person would do the same in a Hollywood star’s home. The place is filled with tasteful art and plenty of chic trinkets from around the world, which is apt, as the spirit of travel is at the very heart of his new menswear brand BDXY.

Created by Luke, Fran, and Luke’s stylist friend Christopher Brown, BDXY is a 12-piece collection of classics that include a tee, vest, underwear, swimwear, shorts, a towel, a tote bag, and even a candle. 

It’s evident looking at the collection, from the hazy summery colours, to the quality of the collection that every detail has been thought out by the trio. The clothes have a classic 1950s. old Hollywood feel to them. Pieces like shell shorts time travel to another iconic era of fashion, the 70s, creating an evergreen vintage touch to BDXY. The Marlon Brandon heartthrob illusion is aided by having an actual A-list film and TV actor sitting in front of me, wearing BDXY as he enthusiastically discusses the clothes with a velvety Welsh accent. 

BDXY swimwear (Image provided)

With the busy schedule of a film and TV star, how have you found the time to do this? 

I don’t know actually [laughs] Fran and I always talked about creating a fashion brand. I’ve been involved in fashion my whole film career – we’re talking fifteen years. I remember the first year I did a movie and I was taken to Cannes. Zegna dressed me and I remember going to an Armani show too. I thought “This is a mad world.” I’ve done campaigns and all that stuff, and in the back of my mind, I always imagined “If I did it, what would I do?”

Then I met Fran and we always thought we’d do a swimwear collection. Obviously, we both work a lot, but when I’m not on a film set, we like to go somewhere warm often a beach. I know a lot of people say I’ve got thirst trap videos and images on social media. But they’re often talking about the swimwear I’m wearing, so it started there. We then started thinking seriously about it a year and a half ago. We thought if we’re going to jump off this diving board, let’s do it properly and think more about what the brand could be and what we want it to stand for, who I am, and how that can connect to the brand.

Immediately, from the outset, we decided it would have to be sustainable. Just because why would you bring another fast fashion brand into the world? Then we brought in our really good friend, and my stylist, Christopher Brown, who went to Central Saint Martins. We asked him if he would work with us and become a co-creative director, and he said “Yeah, I’d love to do it!”

Luke Evans (centre), his partner Fran (left) and Christopher (right) (Image: Provided)

What inspired BDXY? 

Even though this is a weird thing to do, we went for what we loved instead of getting something new. The three of us looked at the classic pieces in our wardrobes that have stayed with us all these years. We were influenced by images of John F. Kennedy Jr. I mean, come on! He was always on a beach in these 70s/80s-esque shell short-shorts. That’s where the ‘Cameo’ short came from. Then we looked at imagery of Steve McQueen and Harrison Ford from the late 70s and early 80s. Their styles are ageless. We’ve got a picture of him in a white vest and underwear, and you literally could put that next to Jeremy Allen White and it would sell as many because it is iconic, simple, and it’s never going out of fashion.

The BDXY t-shirt (Image: Provided)

‘The Actor’ t-shirt is at the heart of the collection. Did you start with this? 

We sat in a room one day, thrashing out basic ideas and we all migrated to the same thing that influenced us which was the staple pieces of an actor’s wardrobe. I thought let’s just start with something that I know and that Chris knows, because he dresses loads of actors and Fran knows because he lives with one. It’s the staple of anyone’s wardrobe. We went into my wardrobe and pulled out my sixteen white t-shirts. And I said, “I’m going to tell you that there’s only three t-shirts in this pile that I look for every time.” There’s a certain cut, feel, fabric, and shape that I go for, but in three different t-shirts. None of them were the same brand.

So, we basically did a creative amalgamation, a hybrid of all three of our favourites. We did the same with the tank which is called the ‘Stunt.’ I have a t-shirt that’s eighteen years old, and a vest that’s eighteen years old too which I wore to the gym. I don’t need to now, as I’ve got my own new ones! We took a template of this vest that I’ve never been able to find again.

How did you come up with the name ‘The Actor’ for the t-shirt? 

We decided to name every piece in the collection after the job titles on a film and television set. They don’t exist anywhere else. When I turned up to set my first time when I was ten, I was like “Who are these people?’ The t-shirt is ‘The Actor’ because it was our first inspiration when we looked at Marlon Brando, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Harrison Ford. The t-shirts are synonymous with the pictures that have lasted. The brief underwear is called ‘The Unit,’ the boxer brief is ‘The Boom’ and the swimwear brief is ‘The Atmos. ‘The Captain’ has the Brazilian sunga cut. We have ‘The Gaffer’ trucker cap, ‘The Wrap’ towel, and ‘The Shutter tote bag too.

Luke Evans and Fran (Image: Provided)

How was the production process? I’m guessing you were completely involved with that too? 

We didn’t have a huge amount of money. It’s my money. We haven’t taken any investors as we wanted to have complete creative control of whatever we made. We wanted to do the experience, from the seed all the way through to the grown tree, we wanted to be part of the whole thing. 

Fran and I have a place in Portugal, and all of the brands that we admire and respect, all their products are made there. So we did a deep dive for several days, then on one rainy afternoon, Fran and I took a train up from Lisbon to Porto and spent the day finding these big factories, and meeting loads of different people. We ended up in the final factory, which is quite small, on the edge of a little village, there was a little restaurant opposite. We walked in, and the owner told us about himself first, which I always thought was nice. He’s like “I’ll tell you who we are.” It was a family-run business, his mum created it in the 70s.

Now it’s run by him his two sisters and his dad. They were basically using the fabrics that we wanted to use in the quality that we needed to make them in. We also went into what sustainability is. It isn’t just about fabrics, of course, we were sustaining a small family business. They’ve done great. They do pieces for different brands around the world, but this was something that he was so excited because he could see that we were starting right at the beginning and they could go on the journey with us. Honestly, he has been the nicest man. He’s collaborated with us from every step and educated us. Going back to the fabrics, we realised that all these amazing fabrics are now on the market that come from sustainably grown wood. It’s the fibres from that wood that we blend with organic cotton.

Going back to what started it all, the thirst trap, can you tell me more about the swimwear? 

The swimwear is made from a fabric called Econyl – the clue is in the name ‘eco’ and ‘nylon.’  It’s sourced from recycled nylon and ocean nylon and plastics. The interior of the swimwear is made from SEQUAL. It’s made from marine plastics. We have two different cuts here we do the classics. The brief, which is on the shorter side, and then the Brazilian sunga, which has the zigzags, a signature pattern we created that matches the towel.

I’ve always loved both cuts, but the thing about swimwear that I always say is that the bit where your legs go through has to have a certain amount of elasticity. If you’re laying on a beach, you want to feel secure but you don’t feel like the circulation is being cut off from your legs and also that the waist feels comfortable and the interior is comfortable and the colour stays. There’s a UV protection in these and it has a resistance to sun creams, light, and chlorine. 

The Salinas Scented candle has been a not-so-suprising best seller so far. I’m guessing you got as fully involved with making the candle as the clothing collection? 

If you look around my house, there are candles everywhere. I’ve got every single brand candle going. I’ve been travelling with a candle for fifteen years. You can end up in the shittiest little place in the back end of nowhere and the room stinks but you can put a candle on, turn the light off and it gives you a glow, it gives warmth and it gives a smell that you like, and it fills the room. I love that about a scented candle. 

What are some of your favourite smells? 

So I love Olibanum. I love bergamot, leather, tobacco, musk, amber. All these smells are connected to the ones I like in this house  We did some research and found a candle company in Essex, that are essentially scientists when it comes to candles. In essence, what we did then was merge those scents. They have over 3,000 scents in liquid form and some of them are rancid. But one drop of that, mixed with others can create a smell that is 400 years old. It’s now been replicated in a more sustainable way but this smell has been around since the revolution in France. There’s history behind the smells.

So, we learned a huge amount about the scents before we even got to make the candle. On the second day we went into the laboratory, which meant we were wearing masks and white overalls and with tiny little scales with a little bottle we started to mix the essence of the different smells which were musk, leather, Cedarwood, and sandalwood. 

Luke Evans BDXY
Behind the scenes with Luke Evans for BDXY (Image: Provided)

With the name of the candle, Salinas, we have a little house in Ibiza. We love it there. It’s on the edge of the UNESCO-protected forest in the southeastern part of the island and is peaceful as hell. We shot the campaign there. We did the whole shoot in the house. And then a friend of ours has a little boat and we took that out and sailed around the island. It was glorious. But we thought why don’t we encapsulate this collection with a candle that represents the smell that we believe it has?

There are top notes of Geranium and Olibanum, and then cedar wood is in the middle, and cashmere wood represents the pine forests because they smell amazing. If they bone dry in the sun, they give off this amazing smell. If they’re wet the sand underneath it creates another smell. We wanted to encapsulate something that was the essence of all of that. It’s fresh and bright, it’s a beautiful smell. 

On the non-fragrance front, what smells do you like? 

I quite like the smell of fresh linen, but I guess it smells of whatever you’ve washed it with, but I like the smell of washing and cleanliness. But then I also love really strong musky leathers. I love Oud too, not too much of it but in the proper measurements is stunning and can fill a room. I also love floral smells. 

Have you heard about the Jacob Elordi Saltburn bath-water candle? As you have a fondness for cleanliness, I am guessing you won’t be going down that route for your next candle? 

[Laughs] Firstly, I hate baths so there won’t ever be a bathwater one! But who knows, give them what they want right? [Laughs!]

Where is the next collection going to be inspired by? 

You’re going to have to wait [laughs] It’s a big secret, but it’s already in fruition and happening!

Behind the scenes of BDXY with Luke Evans
Behind the scenes of BDXY with Luke Evans (Image: Provided)

As I sit listening to Luke, who is donning ‘The Actor’ t-shirt in a golden sand colour (Fran has the green version on) it’s evident that they have put a lot of love into creating the brand. Most celebrities go for a meeting or two with a brand before slapping their name to a collaboration or a brand, but not in the case of Luke, who passionately explains to me the entire process of the brand’s journey. Everything from the shade has been thought out. The towel and shorts have a mirrored geometric zig-zag print that has been used sparingly to keep the collection classic whilst also having a clear brand aesthetic to it.

The aim of BDXY is to transport you to some of the trio’s favourite summer destinations, immersing you in their havens through touch, sight, as well as smell. The clothes are something you could wear on holiday, enjoying the sunset, or eating delicious alfresco dinner with friends. Equally, they fit into your every day, whether it be at the gym, at work, or lounging at home.