NEW YORK — Betsey Johnson’s first swim collection has all the hallmarks the designer is known for: frilly, girly looks that are sexy but wearable.

“I have always loved swimwear,” Johnson said Monday night at a party to celebrate the line at the Lunada Bay showroom at 214 West 39th Street here.

Produced under license by Lunada, a giant swimwear maker, the line includes separate tops and bottoms ranging in wholesale price from about $25 to $75, while beach dresses and cover-ups are $90 to $100.

Some pieces have crystal studs, while other looks have ribbon detailing or mesh treatments, and there is also a selection of corset styles. The color palette ranges from bright lime and pink to more subdued black and white, and some looks have flower-print styles. Cover-ups include dresses made of Lycra as well as chiffon.

“The line crosses from the street to the beach,” said Patricia Osmanson, senior vice president at Lunada Bay, based in Anaheim, Calif.

Osmanson declined to give sales projections, but said the initial collection is targeted to better department stores and swim chains such as Everything But Water. Betsey Johnson swim has its own area of the Lunada Bay showroom, which is painted bright yellow and has flowered curtains and Betsey Johnson prints on the wall.

A number of other designer labels have recently plunged into swimwear, including Michael Kors, Juicy Couture, Carmen Marc Valvo and Diane von Furstenberg.

Johnson’s move into swimwear comes as the designer is beefing up her business through licensing. She has nine licenses, including jewelry and outerwear, and has recently signed a deal with Westpoint Home for a line of bedding and home fashions that will arrive in stores in spring 2007.

“I like working with the licensees because it helps me focus my time and energy,” noted Johnson, who said licensing has become “crucial” to the business and allows her to focus more on ready-to-wear. “There are other things we want to add. I am dying for jeans. And we need eveningwear!”

This story first appeared in the March 9, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus