By  on July 8, 2008

Raj Manufacturing's new Luxe swimwear label was born out of frustration.

Seeking to fill what they viewed as a void, Raj co-president Lisa Vogel and head design director Katty Mui-Ho set out to create stylish bathing suits for their demographic — 20- to 50-year-old women.

"This was actually the first time we sat in a meeting saying, ‘Would you wear this?'" said Vogel of the initial brainstorming session this year to conceptualize Luxe. "We really wanted to come out with a collection that we wanted to wear using ourselves as the target customers."

Luxe's first offering, scheduled to hit stores as soon as the fall, will contain six tightly merchandised groups sold in separates to allow swimwear shoppers to mix and match tops and bottoms. There are one to two one-pieces available in each group, and a staple throughout is a signature soft micronylon with a sheen.

Cover-ups are primarily dresses and pull-on skirts intended to be worn from the beach to the street. They are made of Luxe's signature fabric, gauze and cotton jersey. Prices for both cover-ups and swimsuit sets run from $130 to $195.

"The [Luxe] customer is sophisticated," Vogel said. "She is a jet-setter. She is worldly. She knows designers, and she shops in higher-end stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks and Bloomingdale's. We wanted to come up with truly a swim wardrobe for her."

To perfect Luxe, Vogel and Mui-Ho studied their own closets, where they found loads of dark-colored clothes with splashes of vivid color in pieces meant for layering. The result was that Luxe relies on black, brown and olive hues accented with pops of coral, turquoise and white, and gold and silver hardware.

The goal of Luxe is to conceal imperfections that appear as women get older, while still amplifying consumers' sex appeal. The assortment features long tankinis to increase stomach coverage, augmented construction to add shape and plunging backs to highlight an often timeless asset. "We are enhancing what we want to enhance and hiding what we want to hide," said Vogel.

Raj Manufacturing, which wholly owns Luxe and also has the Guess, Athena, Tommy Hilfiger, St. John and O'Neill brands in its swimwear portfolio, is targeting high-end specialty boutiques and department stores for Luxe's initial distribution.

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