By  on September 26, 2007

Men's wear brand Modern Amusement for the first time is trying to build a women's business with a swimwear collection that heralds the kickoff of women's sportswear next year.

The target customer for the swimwear, which launched for spring 2008 last month at Project Global Tradeshows in Las Vegas, is the female counterpart of Modern Amusement's core male devotee — a fashion-conscious twenty- to fortysomething. This shopper frequents stores such as Barneys New York and Lisa Kline in Los Angeles, both among the boutiques and better stores in which Modern Amusement wants to sell the swimsuits.

"She is sexy first and foremost, but we always want to keep to the taste level that we have established with our Modern Amusement men's line," creative director John Moore said. "Swimwear just seemed like a great canvas to showcase our Modern Amusement signature as being attention to detail, eclectic prints and patterns, dynamic color."

The compact swimwear collection's six design groups feature classic black-and-white, solids, geometric circle prints, railroad stripes, suspenders and appliquéd crow brand icons, said Patricia Osmanson, a senior vice president at swimwear maker Lunada Bay, which produces the suits under a license agreement with Modern Amusement. Atypical touches differentiate the line, including a bag of interchangeable snaps that goes with one style and an upside-down triangle inset paneling on the bottoms of another. Pink, charcoal gray, green, black and white are prominent colors.

"It is such a contemporary, clean line, but there is such a whimsy to it and sophistication," Osmanson said.

"There are a lot of things out there in the swimwear world,'' Moore said. "We didn't want to go over the top with unnecessary and frivolous design. We wanted the print and the color to speak for themselves."

The entry of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Modern Amusement to the women's market via swimwear has a familiar feel to Osmanson. About 18 years ago, she noted, Mossimo kicked off its women's business the same way with Lunada Bay. That brand's namesake, Mossimo Giannulli, bought Modern Amusement in 2004 for $375,000 from its founder, Jeff Yokoyama, who went on to establish sportswear label Generic Youth. Giannulli bought the brand a second time last year for $4.8 million from Iconix Brand Group Inc. after Iconix's $119 million purchase of Mossimo.

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