Thomas Royall: The swimwear label John Terry invested in that's dressing Premier League stars for their holidays
The Premier League's elite have readily shared snaps wearing the brand's snazzy shorts on social media, while holidaying in the world's most glamorous holiday destinations.
The London-based business was set-up by Wycombe Wanderers star Sam Saunders in 2015, alongside former Birmingham City defender Liam Ridgewell.
Within a year, it piqued the interest of Chelsea legend John Terry, who jumped on board and invested in the company.
Thomas Royall has continued to go from strength-to-strength and is stocked in high-end department stores, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
Now, they're going beyond men's shorts, introducing bikinis, as well as kids clothing and baseball caps to their range.
It'll all be presented in a fancy launch for their SS18 collection in posh Mayfair next month.
SunSport dropped into Thomas Royall's HQ in West London to catch-up with Sam.
We modelled a pair of his trunks and was disappointed to discover budgie smugglers weren't in season.
The 34-year-old began by telling us how he got started in swimwear.
"I got a serious knee injury four years ago, got frustrated and started thinking about life after football," Sam said.
"I mentioned it to Liam, who's been one of my best mates since I was eleven years old, that I wanted to launch a business outside of the game.
"He was of a similar age and mindset to me, so he was looking at other things too.
"To be honest, it might have been one or two many pool parties in Las Vegas that inspired it, but I thought there was a distinct lack of options out there with swimwear.
"What we found, in the day parties especially, was that people were planning their outfits like they were planning their night outfits.
"However, there wasn't the same kind of options, so we thought we'd come up with some quality garments.
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"Competitors are still quite child-like with their prints. We wanted to make it a little more snazzy and see where it went."
Sam admitted that his business plan, at first, was a little naive. However, that may have been a blessing in disguise when launching a new start-up.
"I honestly thought I would start with just a few shorts, stick them online and Instagram, sell them to the boys and that would be it," he said.
"But in business it didn't happen like that. We had to make a minimum amount of stock.
"We also had to find a production company that was willing to take us on. And in a year it seemed to snowball after that.
"I went into it so naively, which was probably a blessing. You don't think about website hosting, putting it online, packing, posting, insurance…
"I had to learn a lot of stuff, but if you make a mistake once, you learn from it and don't do it again. It's really been a great life lesson for me.
"For example, I didn't even realise when you put them into stores, then the stores pay you two months after they've been on their shelves.
"You're effectively paying for stock six months before you're getting returns on it, so that kind of stuff is testing for the brand."
In 2016, Sam was amazed to discover he had a fan in John Terry, who ordered a batch of swimwear before heading off to Dubai.
It started off a business partnership and friendship that continues to blossom.
"Whenever we get a PayPal sale it comes up on my phone," Sam explained.
"I was walking through Westfield and as I was shopping the name J Terry popped up. It was a decent size order, as well.
"I looked at it and saw there was a Surrey address linked to the purchase and thought it must be him.
"Then a few weeks later, I saw a picture of John on Instagram wearing the shorts.
"I spoke to a friend of mine, who had the same football agent as him, and asked if John minded tagging us on his Instagram posts to do us a massive favour.
"My mate told me that John really loved the shorts, how they were posted and packaged to him and presented in nice boxes.
"We had a few meetings after that and he wanted to get involved. Since we've been working together he's been brilliant.
"I didn't know him before, only as John Terry the footballer, but he's a good guy and always offers his input."
Explaining why he named the company Thomas Royall, Sam revealed the Royal family were in his thoughts and he wanted something that sounded quintessentially British.
Their signature royal blue trim is a feature on all their products.
But when launching the clothing label, Sam wanted to do it inconspicuously because he sensibly reasoned that would give the brand longevity.
"From the start of it I kept it completely under wraps it was mine, hence the name Thomas Royall," he said.
"I didn't want to be known as another footballer trying to start a clothing line.
"I wanted to be taken seriously. That's why I went undercover with it at first.
"I was never going to stick my own name on it or squad number, we're not doing this for five minutes, we want longevity in the brand."
Sam confessed it's a difficult task juggling running a successful fashion house alongside a full-time football career.
Fashion might be something he loves, but he's well aware that football is his number one job.
"It's difficult. We're very dependant on the girls that work for us in the office that help run the business on a day-to-day business," he said.
"I go in once or twice a week, but football is my number one job.
"It's something I need to dedicate myself to, otherwise I'd be out the game.
"This is another passion of mine, and I want this to be successful enough to be able to turn around and say, 'Thanks, football you've been brilliant, I can walk away now.'
"A few years ago someone said to me, 'Make sure you're finished with football before football is finished with you.'
"Football has a real knack of chewing you up and spitting you out . When you're done, you're done.
"I want to be in the place with this where I'm able to put my eggs all in one basket when I'm done playing."
Despite not having enough hours in their day, Sam, John and Liam are very involved in the designs Thomas Royall create.
However, sometimes they can't agree on what they like best!
"We're very hands-on with the designs," Sam divulged.
"We look through the designs, we have print meetings and all pick what prints we like that we want to use.
"To be fair, the target market is ourselves. So, I'd like to think between the three of us, we all have different tastes that will appeal.
"Sometimes there's a bit of a stalemate where all three of us like something completely different."
Sam, who will be doing his football coaching badges this summer, has been touched by the support he's received from other footballers with Thomas Royall.
"When Brentford got promoted to the Championship, all the boys had the shorts on when we went to Las Vegas.
"To be honest, we've been lucky with footballers because they've always backed us.
"Footballers are inspirational guys, a lot of them like their fashion, they look in good shape and it's good for the brand.
"Everyone knows when you finish football it's a hard gig. It's a great career, but it's a short career.
"You've got a lot of life to live when you've retired, so if there's anything going on for one of the lads, everyone tries to support it the best they can."
With a starting price of £75 for men's shorts, Thomas Royall could be deemed too pricey for some.
But Sam assures SunSport that the quality is in the service provided.
"We're not a high-street price, so we're not putting out high-street quality goods," he said.
"A lot of time, effort and detail goes into Thomas Royall.
"We know that people have worked hard to earn their money and they make a substantial purchase on our shorts.
"But we make sure we can give something back in the quality goods we provide. We'd never go against that idea to sacrifice what we're providing.
Sam hopes that Thomas Royall will be the "one stop holiday shop" people will use before they go away.
He showed us fetching patterned shirts that are new to the men's collection, which he is excited about.
"We've still got a long way to go before I can quit football and do this full-time," he said.
"Hopefully, we can have a good summer again this year and see where we are.
"We've got to follow the sun. We're looking for agents and distribution in other countries that we can trust because when it's winter here, it could be summer somewhere else.
"We've got to make sure that we're selling all-year-round.
"It'll take time, and with what we do full-time, we'll never be able to jump on a plane and go out and have a meeting ourselves in a different country.
"We're just making sure we crack the UK and Europe, change the range, and hopefully next year we'll move into more travel wear.
"It's gone from being in my kitchen, drawing pairs of shorts myself, to sitting in our office now planning a launch party for our new collection in Mayfair next week.
"Who knows what will happen next. We've come a long way in four years, so let's see where we are in another four."
Visit Thomas Royall's website to get yourself a pair of snazzy shorts for your next holiday.
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