SUMMER SPECIAL: London-based designer Mary Katrantzou is lending her flair for color and striking prints to beachwear — and she thinks it’s about time.
“Prints and colors are so connected to being by the beach and traveling and being on holiday. I cannot believe I have not done a swim collection in 10 years,” said Katrantzou, who is getting behind the new category in a big way.
Dubbed Mary Mare (pronounced like the Italian ma-re), the new range will be a mainline collection, not a diffusion line and “a year-round business.”
Its first iteration — set to drop in stores in April — is as vibrant and colorful as one would expect from the designer who made a name for herself for experimenting with graphic patterns and embellishment.
Her prints feature postcards from beach locations like Sicily, Italy; Greece, and the South of France, or sea shells splashed all over bikinis and swimsuits.
“The idea is that each print can stand alone, and we kept it all quite tight graphically. As for the postcard story, it’s very nostalgic and reminds you of places that you’ve been,” the designer added.
Another focus for Katrantzou has been to use all-natural fabrics for this range, such as cotton poplin, linen or silk-twill, and use easy silhouettes that can be size-inclusive.
“That involved building a whole range of easy shapes, with a lot of one-size pieces. We are starting to make our ready-to-wear go up to U.K. size 24, this is the first opportunity to explore a much wider size range so we have easy silhouettes and fabrics,” Katrantzou said.
“I think there is a dual message: One is a very liberated silhouette and the second is that there are easy-to-wear fabrics that can cater to women of any size, to a broader audience. All the girls at the studio tried the pieces on, and it was amazing to see all of us fitting into the different samples. Usually we have to wait for production.”
While the first Mary Mare range offers just three key prints, Katrantzou offers everything from caftans, beach dresses and swimwear to beach totes, sun hats and sneakers.
One sneaker style comes with a charming seashell print and straw platform. It was made in collaboration with Superga. There are also printed towels created with the Greek company Sun of a Beach.
Prices range from 140 to 1,400 pounds.
“The strategy is to launch it with key partners now and offer very special events around the launch [next April], as the concept really lends itself to a destination pop-up,” Katrantzou said, noting the second drop would be in November. “It will also be on our web site, which will allow us to buy into bigger sizes ourselves as well.”