Fair Harbor is taking a major step toward its goal of becoming a lifestyle brand for the entire family.
On April 18, the men’s sustainable swimwear brand will introduce its first women’s collection. The launch collection will encompass 25 pieces in six styles: the Atlantique 2.75-inch inseam short; the Corliss 4.5-inch inseam short; the Seabreeze tank; the Bayview legging, and Corliss and Atlantique sports bras.
Caroline Danehy, chief creative officer, who cofounded Fair Harbor with her brother Jake, said since creating the brand seven-and-a-half years ago, “we have poured our hearts and souls into men’s.” But now that the brand is on solid footing — gross e-commerce sales in 2021 reached $45.1 million, up from $2.3 million in 2019 — it was the right time to look to the next growth vehicle.
For Caroline Danehy, it was a labor of love intended to solve one of the pet peeves in her life — and for many other women as well.
“I have never found a women’s board short that I was comfortable in,” she said.
She began thinking about the brand’s Anchor shorts for men and their versatility. “You can swim, work out and lounge in them all day, but there was nothing like that out there in the market for women. So I wanted to create a modern board short for every woman with functional features, such as interior pockets large enough to accommodate phones and invisible zip pockets to hold your valuables. These shorts keep your hands free and transition seamlessly throughout the day.”
The siblings used everything they’d learned in the men’s space to create the women’s line, Caroline Danehy said. Like the men’s collection, Fair Harbor womenswear will be made with recycled water bottles and recycled nylon. It will also utilize the soft, moisture-wicking BreezeKnit interior liner they created that is designed to prevent chafing. The tank top is constructed from the same lightweight, moisture-wicking, UPF 50 protective fabric as the men’s SeaBreeze hoodies and henleys. The shorts, leggings, and sports bras are made with durable water-repellent technology fabric so they dry quickly.
The collection will retail from $48 to $78 and will be available first on the company’s e-commerce site. It will also be available through other retailers since the collection is being unveiled at the Coterie women’s show next week in New York.
Jake Danehy didn’t venture a projection on how large the women’s collection could ultimately become, but said 55 percent of Fair Harbor’s customers are women. “We see it as a huge opportunity for us,” his sister said.
The siblings remain committed to their mission to “be the next iconic, American heritage brand for men, women, girls and boys.” Caroline Danehy said the goal is to ultimately be able to dress everyone from 8-year-old girls to 85-year-old men.
Fair Harbor, which was inspired by the Danehys’ childhood spent on Fire Island, started with a goal of reducing plastic waste in the water and on the beach. As of today, they have recycled 26 million bottles for 1 million shorts they have sold since the brand’s founding. “We’re excited with our growth and expansion opportunities,” he said.
Part of that growth will come as a result of the brand’s first national advertising campaign, which launches this week. Created in partnership with New York-based advertising agency Walrus, the campaign introduces a new Fair Harbor spokesperson, a “salty sea captain who speaks out on the ravages of chafing,” according to Caroline Danehy.
Her brother said until now, Fair Harbor has been “good at digital marketing,” and has employed catalogues and radio advertising. But once they decided to use television as a medium, “we knew we had to do something different.”
In addition to being averse to chafing, the captain delivers a sustainability message, they said, pointing to a spot where he throws a harpoon to pick up discarded plastic bottles. “We haven’t abandoned that message,” Caroline Danehy said.
“The Fair Harbor sea captain was one of the first concepts we shared, and it instantly felt like the right approach for this particular brand and objective,” said Jillian Dresser, creative director at Walrus. “Our sea captain’s Moby Dick is essentially the uncomfortable chafing caused by competitors’ swim trunks, and we thought it was a perfect distillation of the brief.”
The campaign will be running on ESPN, Food Network, TruTV, VICE and Comedy Central. Supporting radio and out-of-home spots will also kick off nationally next month.
In the future, the Danehys didn’t rule out running a commercial where they would be featured as well. “We’re working on a founders’ spot,” she said.
Looking even further into the future, they said there are no plans to take on investors or sell the brand to a larger company. “We’re excited about doing our thing and serving the customers who have joined us on our journey for the last seven-and-a-half years,” Jake Danehy said. “We’re humbled and honored to live our dream and are still as motivated and energized as we were when we started.”