ACQUA-TEC: FROM SOFTWARE TO SWIMWEAR

Byline: A. D.

NEW YORK — Forget the ditzy florals and tropical prints. When it comes to swimwear fashion, Lori Oscher Friedman, a 26-year-old computer geek and former design assistant for Nicole Miller, is turning to bytes, bits and fractals for inspiration.
In August, Friedman started Acqua-Tec NYC, which markets and creates contemporary swimwear featuring computer-generated designs, using her Macintosh Power PC. “I’m into cyberspace, and I think the swimwear market plays into that — swimming is a technical thing,” said Friedman. “I’m inspired by the different ways you can play with a wide range of colors and graphics using a computer. It’s kind of geeky, but it’s cool.”
The line, which will make its debut for spring selling, features primarily nylon and Lycra spandex and offers 25 styles. Friedman plans to expand the offerings for cruise ’97. One group from the spring collection includes an icy, sorbet palette, while another features a warmer, sunburst palette. Prints range from stripes to dot patterns.
Acqua-Tec’s showroom is at 1411 Broadway.
About 80 percent of the line is in one-piece suits. The average wholesale price is about $40. About 20 percent of the line is in coverups.
Friedman projects the company’s wholesale volume at $350,000 in its first year, with plans to double that figure by the end of its second year. So far, the line has been ordered by some independent specialty stores, such as Lonny’s, a 10-store sportswear and swimwear chain, based in Merrick, N.Y., and Friedman noted she is in discussions with some department and key specialty stores.
“The line is really fashion-forward, and there are so many interesting pieces,” said Laurie Korn, swimwear buyer of the chain, who picked up Acqua-Tec’s two-piece suits with halter tops and tanks with cyber bar prints for March selling. “The whole idea of computer-generated prints is unique.”
Friedman, who’s been dabbling with computers since she was 15, graduated from Cornell University in 1991 with a major in textile and apparel design.
After graduation, she spent four years at Nicole Miller as a design assistant, working on swimwear, eveningwear and sportswear, as well as such licensed products as socks and fragrances. She left in May for Taiwan to work for a private label swimwear company, but left after about two months when she was approached by three private investors to start up the swimwear venture.

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