In fact, it’s a big reason why he started his fashion brand, Earls Collection.

The name – Earl – is actually his middle name; one that he shares with his late father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Shortly before announcing his retirement from the NRL in 2018, Lewi lost his father to suicide. “At the funeral, I found out my dad had mental health issues, he was depressed, and he was an alcoholic,” he says. That day, Lewi also discovered his grandfather and great-grandfather had taken their own lives as well. “The only thing we share in common is the middle name, Earl.” Instantly, the name became loaded with emotion – and Lewi became determined to give it a new legacy. “I used to hate it, it gave me a bad energy, but my silver lining is I’ve taken this negativity, I’ve grown it, and turned it into something that I feel is so positive,” he says.

Turns out, it’s not all that often that a player successfully transitions from football to creative.

Credit: Paul Liddle

Of course, it doesn’t help that these days, people love to tell you to ‘stay in your lane’. Try something outside your wheelhouse? Shock, horror, comments. But then again, Lewi has never been into doing what people expect. “Once upon a time in the rugby league, the only way you could come back to the sport was through coaching and training,” he explains. “You’re put in a box in your career, you’re not meant to be an athlete, then become a fashion designer or streetwear designer. I wanted to break that mould by coming back in a creative way.”

Fashion was an obvious path; something he’s long been passionate about. In fact, Lewi was always the guy on the team you’d go to for advice on how to look cool. “I used to cop a lot of shit from the boys with the way I used to dress, and then we’d get on tours and the boys would grab me and be like ‘hey, my girlfriend or my wife asked me to ask you if you could take me shopping’. They wanted me to style up their wardrobe a little bit,” he laughs.

Credit: Samsung au

Fast forward a few years and you’ll find Lewi in a bright, airy studio in Sydney, surrounded by racks of colourful basketball shorts, baggy pants and cool knitted sweaters all donning the now cult-status ‘EARLS’ logo. You’ll also find him hyper focused on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra – his creative tool of choice – marking up fit notes on his latest designs or sketching new ideas. “I think Earls Collection reflects myself. It’s all about breaking out of the predefined lane to take control of my own destiny,” Lewi shares, adding that he’s “rebuilding and reshaping these silhouettes that have always been around, but putting my swing on it. I really feel like the brand’s a reflection of the journey I’ve been on.”

For Lewi’s Samsung Trailblazers episode, he gives a peek into his creative process and how he uses the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra on the daily. “Honestly, it’s fundamental to how I operate my life, and my business, from how I complete my tasks, collaborate with my team and work on the fly,” he says, when asked what he loves most about the tech. Its advanced Galaxy AI features, like Note Assist*, have seamlessly integrated into his workflow, allowing him to summarise meetings, stay organised and source inspiration on the go. “Any technology that can help you get the edge with your day and get things done quicker is valuable, because time is everything in this space,” he says.

As Earls Collection continues its upward trajectory with a new Earls Collection Home Capsule soon to drop, Lewi remains committed to being an encouraging voice for others wanting to follow their passions. “I hope I’ve inspired people and shown them that you can do multiple things in your life and not just be okay at one thing,” he reflects.

“I’ve always been me. I think that’s the coolest thing looking back on it now, I’ve always stayed true to who I am and never changed. That’s something I’m really proud of.”

“You stay humble, you stay hard working, and you stay true to yourself and what you believe in.”

Watch the film Trailblazer, Lewi Brown of Earls Collection below.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Ultra is available now via the Samsung website.

*Certain applications may not support multi-tasking. AI Features will be provided free of charge until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices. Note Assist requires a network connection and Samsung Account. Accuracy of results is not guaranteed.

This video is not endorsed by Asics Corporation or the New Zealand Warriors.

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