Paula Hermanny was approached five years ago by Target Corp. to collaborate on a swimwear collection. “At the time, I wasn’t sure how it would impact the brand,” said Hermanny, the founder and designer of Vix Swimwear, which is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-porter, Shopbop and Neiman Marcus.
The next time Target came to call – about a year ago – Hermanny was ready. The resulting collection, Mar by ViX, bowed this week in Target stores in New York and California with swimwear departments and at target.com. “Mar” means ocean in Portuguese.
“I saw that high-end brands were doing collaborations with Target. I felt it wouldn’t change the image of the brand,” she said.
Hermanny, who was born in Brazil, designs bikinis and one-piece suits in the style popular her sun-worshiping, beach-going countrymen. In other words, itsy-bitsy tops and cheeky bottoms.
Swimwear in Hermanny’s main collection is priced at about $130 for a bikini top and $100 for a bottom, with one-piece swimsuits selling for $250. Mar by ViX for Target is priced at $27.99 for bikini bottoms; $32.99 for tops; with cover-ups at $44.99, and one-piece swimsuits for $54.99. There’s also a mommy-and-me component with swimsuits for girls made from the same prints, $21.99 to $34.99.
“The goal was to create the ViX feel and design aesthetic for the woman who can’t afford a $250 suit and wants something fashion forward,” Hermanny said. “It’s more of a fast-fashion approach. We went with the DNA of the brand.”
The main ViX collection is manufactured in the company’s factories in Brazil. “Our suits have a lot of detailing, such as trim or beading that’s done by hand,” said Hermanny. “With Target, we had to recreate that in an affordable way. Target is so powerful, they can do things that are unimaginable at that price point.”
ViX, which did $35 million in sales worldwide last year, operates nine stores in Brazil. Hermanny said she’s scouting locations for two stores on the West Coast, which would be the brand’s first units in the U.S.
While her Target designs are skimpy, Hermanny said she created Mar by ViX “for everybody, not just gorgeous, skinny women. Brazilians feel so comfortable with their bodies. That’s one of the cultural differences between Brazilians and Americans. Everybody wears a small bikini. It’s more about the fashion than the body.”