NEW YORK — A new cruise season always brings out fresh faces in swimwear.
While designers such as Michael Kors and Carmen Marc Valvo are getting into the business, smaller brands are also looking to break onto the scene, including Milly and Surf Diva.
Four years after launching her Milly apparel line in 2001, Michelle Smith is jumping into the pool with a bohemian-inspired resortwear and swimsuit collection called Milly Cabana.
“It’s very Acapulco, 1960s glamour,” Smith said of the line’s inspiration, which is rich with fluorescent colors and gold bamboo detailing.
The initial offerings include 16 styles, many of the pieces elaborately detailed with pearls, rhinestones, mirrors and bamboo. Among the offerings are teal tunics and strapless white one-piece styles, as well as floral print beach towels and matching canvas bags lined in terry cloth.
“When I was designing these pieces, I was thinking of the lifestyle of my customer going on a great vacation,” said Smith, who aims her line at 18- to 40 year-olds. “You’d wear a different bikini to the Hamptons than you would to the South of France.”
Milly Cabana swimsuits wholesale from $60 to $100; the resortwear ranges from about $100 to $200. Smith said her company, based here, is aiming for a first-year wholesale volume of $500,000 for the new collection.
The Milly apparel line is sold in about 200 to 300 doors in the U.S., including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Andrew Oshrin, Smith’s business partner and husband, said he plans to extend swimwear offerings in the company’s existing retail distribution, as well as into specialty swim boutiques. Oshrin noted they are looking to open a Milly boutique in Manhattan. Swim is part of a plan to extend the brand into other categories, and the duo hopes eventually to add jewelry and shoes, he said.
Surf Diva caters to a more athletic crowd. The San Diego company aims to integrate function and fashion into its first swim collection, launching for cruise 2006.
Surf Diva swimwear is a collaboration between a California surf school of the same name and swimwear designer Ana Romano. The line features suits with industrial-style graphics and graffiti-like brights, as well as floral prints and Moroccan-influenced pieces infused with African prints.
“Our passion for living the surfing lifestyle is a big inspiration to the line,” said Caroline (Coco) Tihanyi, who owns Surf Diva with her twin sister, Isabelle (Izzy) Tihanyi. The California natives have been surfing since childhood and launched the company as a surf school in La Jolla, Calif., in 1996. Since then, they have branched out into hard goods and accessories, such as surfboards, sunglasses and beach bags.
Surf Diva entered the swimsuit market to create functional yet fashionable pieces for an athletic woman, Coco Tihanyi said. “It’s difficult to surf with your bathing suit riding up,” she quipped.
Swimwear makes up about 70 percent of the line and will wholesale for $35 to $40; performance offerings range from $30 to $35. Surf Diva’s apparel and accessories are available in about 50 surf shops and specialty boutiques throughout the U.S. The swim line will have the same distribution.
The sisters are also expanding the Surf Diva store that opened in La Jolla last May. They declined to discuss sales projections.