Picture a fervid day in Rio, 1945. Lian Pontes de Carvalho, a handsome carioca de gema, strides past the opulent Copacabana Palace hotel (below) onto the soft sands of Copacabana Beach. Under his arm is a set of wooden beach bats, handcrafted from smooth pieces of driftwood, and in his pocket, the inner ball from a tennis ball. “Bom dia, Lian!” cries his friend as Lian hands him a bat. Before long, the pair jocularly rally the ball back and forth, no rules, no scores, inventing in that moment the beautiful game of frescobol.
It is certain on that day in 1945 that Lian had no notion that the racquet game he invented would shape the beach culture of Rio de Janeiro. For soon, the rhythmic resonance of ball hitting bat became the heartbeat of Rio, enticing assemblies of athletic cariocas to congregate on the city’s famous stretches of sand to play this elegant game.
Frescobol perfectly embodies the Rio way of life: cool, active and always friendly. Unlike other bat-and-ball games, frescobol players are partners rather than opponents who, with a non-competitive spirit, work together to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible. With two or more players facing each other, the aim of this elegant game is to maintain a rally. It can be played in any open area, although if one is in Rio, it is best enjoyed on Copacabana or Ipanema beach as the sun sets behind the twin peaks of the Morro Dois Irmãos. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the game’s invention in 2015, frescobol was awarded Intangible Heritage Status alongside bossa nova and samba, reflecting its contribution to the cultural landscape of Rio.
Frescobol was created in Brazil’s Golden Age, also known as the Tropical Belle Époque. It was a time when movie stars would lounge by the pool sipping cocktails at the Copacabana Palace hotel; when the city danced to the soft notes of Tom Jobim’s samba, and when a young carioca would invent a beach game so synchronous with the spirit of the city that its legacy remains strong today.
The etymology of the word frescobol lies in a union of the phrase ‘frescor do final de tarde’, meaning the freshness of the end of the afternoon, and ‘bola’, the term used for a rubber ball. Second only to ‘futebol’ as Brazil’s national sport, the iconic knock-knock sound of frescobol has traversed Rio’s famous beaches and can now be heard on sandy shores around the world.
With a desire to bring the spirit of Rio’s vibrant beach culture to people all over the world, it seemed only fitting that the first Frescobol Carioca offering should pay homage to the legacy of Lian Pontes de Carvalho via a range of handmade hardwood frescobol bats.
The playful Rio culture, the easygoing spirit of the cariocas, the unique sidewalk mosaics of the city’s beaches and the architecture of the cidade maravilhosa play muse to the brand season after season. They also provide the inspiration for our signature range of swim shorts and sungas, which feature interpretations of the Copacabana and Ipanema calçadão designs. Our lifestyle range includes luxury men’s shirts, polos, trousers, shorts, activewear, scarves, panama hats, bags and belts. Surfboards, skateboards, linen beach towels, beach chairs and limited-edition accessories broaden the lifestyle range.
Frescobol Carioca has stores located in London’s Marylebone, Soho and Notting Hill. We are also stocked by more than 250 international luxury retailers including Harrods, Selfridges, Le Bon Marché and Barneys. Ongoing collaborations with Colette, Eden Rock Hotel, Louis Vuitton, Hôtel Costes and Le Club 55 culminate in exclusive short-run designs. More than merely the sum of its parts, Frescobol Carioca’s luxury men’s apparel and lifestyle offerings are the embodiment of Rio’s laidback spirit, proving one need not live in Rio to embody the Brazilian way of life.
It is the sea, the jungle, the architecture, the curves of the landscape, the Roberto Burle Marx mosaic calçadão, the samba of Tom Jobim and the way of Rio’s vibrant residents, the cariocas, that breathed life into an idea that became our brand. Yet at the very core of Frescobol Carioca is the graceful game of frescobol, which not only comprises half of our brand name but which sparked the inspiration for our very first collection, launched in 2009.
Until 1976 the Frescobol was played with peeled tennis balls thereafter imported racketball balls began to be used.
As an environmentally conscious company, each Frescobol Carioca skateboard, surfboard and frescobol bat is constructed using pieces of hand-collected driftwood and native hardwood offcuts recycled from Rio's carpentry trade so as not to contribute to deforestation. Individually crafted in Brazil by skilled artisans known as marceneiros, our wooden lifestyle items are handmade in small editions, each one unique in colour, shape, detail and weight. All are finished with a high-shine bespoke resin for longwearing durability and beauty. Soft neoprene in a kaleidoscope of hues gives our bats a striking, comfortable grip while custom-made rubber balls complete the set.