Cult Gaia, the accessories and resort wear brand that Instagram built one bamboo Ark bag “like” at a time, is dipping a toe into swimwear.
Founder Jasmin Larian is collaborating with luxury Brazilian label Adriana Degreas on a 21-piece collection inspired by tropical surrealism and Cult Gaia’s geometric and nature-inspired handbag hardware.
The collaboration includes bikini and one-piece suits with tortoise acrylic details, and loose, silk cover-ups in prints of exotic birds in the body of a female figure against a background of tropical foliage in shades of green, ecru and pink. Cult Gaia acrylic and bamboo handbags complement the collection, which sells from $198 to $750 at CultGaia.com and AdrianaDegreas.com.
“I’ve always been a fan of Adriana Degreas since I first visited her store in Sao Paulo,” Larian told WWD. “We reached out and she was a fan of ours, so it was serendipitous. We’re using a lot of acrylic bar details from our bags; one top is sheer tulle with tortoise acrylic bars covering only what needs to be covered. It looks like acrylic on skin. Then we did a pleated triangle top that has beautiful, tortoise acrylic balls sewn in and inlaid. I think women are at their most beautiful naked, so this is the closest we will get with clothing.”
The designer launched her brand with handbags in 2014 with a $7,000 investment from her dad, Isaac Larian, creator of the Bratz dolls, and has since expanded into clothing, shoes and jewelry, continuing to be self-funded. Her path in the business is becoming a familiar one in L.A., with accessories-first labels such as Staud and Rebecca de Ravenel expanding into ready-to-wear and generating a following among the city’s fashion-forward social media trendsetters.
Larian used Instagram to introduce her signature half-moon-shaped bamboo Ark bag, priced at $168, a style that peaked last summer when it spawned wait-lists, imitators, and was being carried by social media and Hollywood stars alike, including Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Sincerely Jules and Chriselle Lim. It also spawned a legal battle with Steve Madden that is ongoing.
Larian staged her first ready-to-wear runway show beachside at her parents’ Frank Gehry-designed Malibu home in December, when she said the brand was on track to do $15 million in sales in 2018. A full Cult Gaia swimwear extension is likely in her future, she said.
“I like swim as a layering piece, and I don’t think it has been approached in that way, almost like a slip you’d wear every day.”