Granadilla: cool swimwear inspired by Clifton Beach's ice-lolly sellers

This local swimwear brand puts trunks on bodies and bodies in the water with its charity outreach programme, writes Andrea Nagel

25 November 2018 - 00:00 By Andrea Nagel
Camps Bay Beach shorts, R720, Granadilla.
Camps Bay Beach shorts, R720, Granadilla.
Image: Supplied

"Picture this: you're lying on a beach, perfectly cushioned on your soft towel. The sand has moulded to fit your body just right. The sun is toasting your skin with the perfect recipe of a great SPF 20 and a layer of freshly dried salt water.

"Your eyes are shut, but you're still very much aware of your surroundings on this pearler of a beach day. Among the endless chatter of the other beach bodies, and the consistent crash of the waves, there is the ping-pong of two mates playing bats.

"And then it happens. You hear a call that's been calling since the start of beach culture in Cape Town. It's so familiar and so friendly and so enjoyable that you will most definitely have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day, and won't even be a little bit mad about it.

"It's the anthem of summer in Cape Town and as it gets closer your glow gets brighter, your smile gets bigger and a feeling of pure bliss fills your body.

"'ICE CREAM, COLE DRINK, GRANADILLA LOLLY!'

"It's happened. You've made it to another perfect Cape Town summer."

This is the answer Joshua Meltz, part owner of the Granadilla brand of swimming trunks, gives when I ask him about the inspiration behind the name.

When I came upon Meltz in Joburg deeply entrenched in the Christmas shopping crush, he reminded me of all this, and of their initiative to dress the Clifton Beach lolly sellers.

"We like to think of it as a partnership," he says. "As the original entrepreneurs these guys have inspired everything we've done. In return we sponsor them with gear for summer and they are the ultimate brand ambassadors. We also supply them with our own label of mineral water and offer a free water to anyone who is wearing Granadillas on Clifton Beach."  

Meltz started the brand with his friend Adam Duxbury two years ago. Legend has it the young Capetonians were sitting on Clifton Fourth Beach when they decided to fill the gap for locally produced swim shorts with a pop edge.

There's no doubt that the brand owes at least a nod of inspiration to the French brand Vilebrequin, named after a car's crankshaft and started by photographer Fred Prysquel, who drew a pair of swim shorts on a napkin in a St Tropez cafe in 1971 and made that drawing the prototype that would revolutionise men's swimwear.

Starfish shorts, R720, Granadilla.
Starfish shorts, R720, Granadilla.
Image: Supplied

What set Vilebrequin apart were the fun motifs. The brand also launched matching shorts for fathers and sons, a great success. Granadilla has followed suit by creating trunks in big and mini sizes. It's very cute.

But more than just giving families and beach jocks something to smile about each summer, Meltz and Duxbury have committed themselves to doing something for SA.

"Despite the 2,000km of gorgeous coastline and a string of Olympic swimmers, only 15% of South Africans can swim," says Meltz.

"For those of us who enjoyed the privilege of swimming lessons, it's easy to overlook just how dangerous the ocean can be. So we created the Granadilla Swimming Academy in partnership with its inspirational leader, Arafat Gatabazi. Every Thursday, we meet at a local pool, put on our Granadillas and have a fun time swimming.

"We have three intentions for the kids at the academy: first that they know enough to survive in the water. Second that they enjoy swimming and third that with enough practice these kids will one day be able to compete."

Initially, the team's focus is to have the youngest kids swimming confidently.

"Then, once they're confident in the pool, we teach them to enjoy watersports like surfing. For the strongest swimmers, our goal is to have them swimming competitively. And our forte is open-water swimming."

Gatabazi was named the 2014 Open Water Swimmer of the Year by the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association and has completed the 7.5km 10°C Robben Island Swim several times, says Meltz.

"Knowing how to swim is not only an essential skill, but achieving this goal allows these kids to realise their capabilities. We hope to grow this programme and to inspire others to get involved."

Justin Bieber was spotted rocking his Granadilla shorts on California's Laguna Beach

Celebrities have jumped on the Granadilla trunks bandwagon. Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle and South African cricket legend AB de Villiers, as well as British-South African YouTube personality Casper Lee, have worn them, but for Meltz nothing quite matched seeing Justin Bieber rocking his Muizenberg shorts on California's Laguna Beach.

Recently, while the wind was howling in Cape Town, Granadilla was making waves in Europe. 

"We attended our first trade show in Paris recently and signed distributors in France," says Meltz. "A couple of weeks later we opened our first international pop-up in Shoreditch, London, and the Pommies loved our designs."

Their goal is to establish the brand on a world stage to make sure everyone gets the feeling of a Cape Town summer.


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