Bossa Nova: The Inspiration

Bossa nova and samba, Brazil’s most famous musical outputs, are two sides of the same coin: the eternal soundtrack of Rio. They share many features, born of a common culture and musicality. Yet bossa nova is the mellow counterpart to samba’s driving beats and wild dancing, it is the delicate, seductive accompaniment to more sophisticated Carioca activities.

Wave Bossa sports shorts in Coconut Green and Navy

The genre was born on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, through the unique vocal style of João Gilberto, and his unforgettable collaborations with Tom Jobim. The music took off amongst the young, educated Cariocas of the day. They were caught up in a wave of national optimism about progress, and watched their city become full of the rich and famous who came to relax on the legendary Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.


The movement would be cut short in Brazil by the 1964 military coup, lending the original songs an authentic nostalgia and allowing them to capture a very specific period of Brazilian history. By that point, however, the genre had exploded in the U.S. with Getz/Gilberto, and has enjoyed a sustained popularity across the globe ever since.


For SS18’s Bossa Nova collection, we’ve created four brand new prints that capture how we feel when we listen to some of our favourite tunes: Aquarela, Wave, Dindi, and Summer Samba. Their graphic counterparts are alive in exuberant shades of coconut green, pool blue, and peach, and they move with a gentle dynamism, reflecting the syncopated beats of the songs that inspired them.

Dindi Tailored Shorts in Peach and Navy

Their aesthetic is based on the album art of the original vinyls from the 50s and 60s. A modernist art form, bossa nova covers were as fresh and thrilling as the tunes they housed. They drew on the avant-garde of the art world at that time, and aligned themselves with the artistic traditions of Europe, albeit with a strong Brazilian accent.

The full collection is available online here. Check out our Top 5 albums below to find the right tunes to set that laid-back holiday mood while you peruse.

Aquarela shorts in Coconut Green and Navy


Bossa Nova Heritage in 5 Albums 

1. Chega de Saudade (1959) – João Gilberto

Your first port of call. The record that started a movement.


2. Getz/Gilberto (1964) – Stan Getz & João Gilberto

The bilingual album that allowed bossa to conquer the globe.

3. Amor de Gente Moça (1959) – Sylvia Telles

Widely considered one of the most beautiful voices of bossa nova.

4. Bossa Nova Stories (2008) – Eliane Elias

A critically-acclaimed tribute to the movement, 50 years on.


5. Tempo Tanto (2000) – Bebel Gilberto

Contemporary proof that the genre is still alive, innovative and relevant.