OPTIONS ADDING SPICE TO SPANISH COLLECTIONS

Byline: Barbara Barker

BARCELONA — Spanish swim-wear producers heading into the cruise and spring seasons are banking on versatility and new constructions to appeal to a wide range of ages and body types.
“In Spain, swimsuits are a fashion statement,” said Valenti Camps, commercial vice president of VF Boutique, whose Spanish subsidiary, Vives Vidal, manufactures two of the country’s top-selling brands: Majestic and Belcor. “The typical consumer buys at least two suits a season, even if she lives far from the sea, due to the Mediterranean ethic of spending the month of August at the beach.”
With annual sales of roughly $21 million (3 billion pesetas), Vidal was bought four years ago by VF Corp. Camps said the company is considered number two, after Triumph, in Europe, where the 40-year-old Vidal has a strong presence in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Portugal. Growing markets include South Africa, Arabia and Japan. In Spain, the swim and lingerie lines are sold through 6,000 outlets.
El Corte Ingles, Spain’s only department store chain and its largest retailer, buys 3,000 swimsuits a season, Camps added.
At Intibano, an annual swimwear and lingerie trade fair held here in July, Vives Vidal introduced the sculpted, body-shaping suit for all ages, with control panels and constructions based on its know-how in lingerie.
In general, high-end manufacturers are armed with simple, pared-down shapes — not always easy for the Spaniards — and innovative microfibers.
Guillermina Baeza, the sector’s high-fashion priestess, scored with a grouping of sexy transparencies, including sheer mesh inserts; the newest beach accessory, dressy, see-through T-shirts with asymmetrical cuts, and black one-piece “evening” suits with rhinestone trim and matching wrap skirts. The evening line is key to her philosophy that swimwear be versatile as well as trendy, she said.
Baeza highlighted surface interest through hand-crocheted accents, tone-on-tone appliques, embroideries and a recently developed Lycra spandex pique. She likes a range of greens, from pistachio to deep grass, and a new champagne color, which, she says, is “beautiful with a tan, and when wet, it looks like you have nothing on.”
Madras-style plaids were perked up with fresh color combinations like grape and lime.
“Flexibility in the sense of multiple options is very exclusive to us,” said export manager Cesca Gonzalez. She added that Baeza’s company, G.B. Difusion, which produces 120,000 units annually, exports 30 percent to high-end specialty stores and department store chains in France and Italy. In Germany, she said, “we are just starting.” American customers include Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, If and American Rag. The Guillermina Baeza line wholesales from $41 to $48.
Domestically, G.B. Difusion sells to 300 doors, with volume of about $5.5 million (800 million pesetas).
Baeza designed an exclusive collection of 20 styles this summer for Spain’s Cortefiel, a division of the massive apparel manufacturer and retail conglomerate, which plans to market and distribute it through its 140-store network in Spain and Portugal.
In her third season, Belen Larruy, who is Baeza’s daughter, showed her Lola Escobar line featuring Seventies-style hippie looks, such as a bandeau bikini; a reflective, two-tone fabric, and cropped button-up tops. Colors include acid orange and turquoise. Lola Escobar — at $28 to $35 wholesale — is testing the Portuguese waters, Gonzalez said.
Also in its third season, Antonio Miro Bano offered daring see-through numbers and a series of unconstructed velvet tanks in lush jewel tones, like ruby and pearl gray. According to managing director Albert Torres, this collection will kick off export objectives, specifically in Japan, France and Great Britain, through the same distribution channels as Bano’s men’s wear.
One of Spain’s premier exporters, Andreas Sarda, ships to a formidable 30 countries, according to a company spokesman. Japan and Germany are major purchasers, he said, and in the U.S., Bergdorf Goodman is a client.
Sarda’s signature clean silhouettes and meticulous fit are among the priciest in the market, at around $70 wholesale, with its sportier lines, Risk and University, at around $35.
Barcelona vendor Dos Mares continues its belief in utter simplicity with just the hint of a detail — fake tortoise buckles, for example. Other developments included no-bra construction, a triacetate blend that looks like suede and, in its lower-priced line, a reversible style that changes from print to solid. Wholesale is about $20 to $42.
With annual production around 70,000 units, Dos Mares began exporting three years ago, said commercial director Julian Lazaro. Key markets are Italy, France and Portugal. As yet, there is no U.S. business.

Trend Check
Sexy, see-throughs (real or implied) and asymmetrical cuts.
Body-shaping suits for all ages.
Solid colors, particularly lilac, deep purple, olive and chocolate.
Textured fabrics that look like suede or peach fuzz; also stamped velvet and ribbing.
Active-inspired styles, sport striping and racer backs.

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