Here, a look at designer brands to keep an eye on for cruise and spring.
Brand: Alé by Alessandra
Designer: Alessandra Ambrosio
Based in: Los Angeles
Showing: Miami Swim Show, Booth #417
Founded: 2014; Making debut at Miami Swim Show, July 19-22.
Back story: Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio launched her first apparel venture this year — a capsule collection for California boutique chain Planet Blue. Her first swim line, produced by Los Angeles-based swimwear specialist Lunada Bay, has been a passion project for both partners since Day One.
“Brazilian women live in their swimwear. If it’s at the beach or under a sundress, we always love to mix and match and it is a key point of our fashion. Brazilian beauty is all based on the body, so swimwear is a big part of that,” said Ambrosio.
“Alessandra’s love of swim and her personal style are the perfect combination. She has a Brazil-meets-Malibu aesthetic and we tried to stay true to that,” said Susan Crank, president and chief executive officer of Lunada Bay, of Ambrosio’s two homes.
The line comprises microfiber tactel bikini separates ($40 to $72 wholesale) and strappy monokinis ($88 to $94) and silk cover-ups ($64 to $150), about 75 pieces in all. Crank said Ambrosio’s knowledge of prints drives the collection, from a Carnival-inspired pattern to feathers, desert motifs, tie-dyes and tribal. There are eight print stories in all, plus a solid range in jewel and earth tones.
Embellishments include jewelry-style beads, braided belts and dip-dyed fringe. Said Ambrosio, “Lunada Bay followed through with seeing my inspiration. The fabric choices are luxurious and they really worked with me to design my favorite moods and feelings into the prints. [There were] many fittings with me to develop the perfect fits for the suits, especially bikinis.”
There are four bottom styles: Malibu, Boa, Brazil and Pequeño (the tiniest), all with a hint of cheekiness (literally — as in butt cheeks).
The Brazilian cuts are not for everyone, but Crank said they’re not trying to be. The idea was to stay true to Ambrosio’s style.
“Brazilian bikinis are cut differently, they have very small bottoms. I feel the American market is getting better at covering all types and integrating the signature Brazilian cut. But in Brazil, less is better,” said the model and mother of two.
Inspiration: Ambrosio said the Tied & True tie-dye suits with the different colored tassels were her favorite: “Very boho chic, very me.”
— Marcy Medina
Brand: Ward Whillas
Designers: Rosie Ward and Alicia Whillas
Showing: Cabana trade show, booth #408, July 19-21
Based in: New York
Founded: Launches for cruise 2015.
Back story: After studying together at various fashion schools worldwide and designing ready- to-wear and accessories for Marc Jacobs and The Row, Ward and Whillas partnered to specialize in stitch-free swimwear. Rather than bulky binding and thread, fashion-forward construction and smooth silhouettes are achieved through high-compression fabrics sourced in Italy and heat-sealed in the U.S. The concept applies activewear’s innovative technology to the swim market, which the designers felt lagged behind.
Reversible suits including five one-pieces retailing from $300, as well as 14 separates starting at $140, feature signature zigzag tape and edge detail. Solid colors are selected to flatter multiple skin tones, while subtle prints are inspired by fabrics and textures. They plan to expand with ready-to-wear and accessories.
Inspiration: “This collection is inspired by technology, active sportswear and the idea of bringing classic silhouettes into the 21st century,” said Ward. “We want to make women feel empowered and confident at the beach.” — R.K.
NEXT: Body Sculpt by DKNY Swim >>
Brand: Body Sculpt by DKNY Swim
Designer: Donna Karan
Showing: Delano Hotel South Beach, penthouse, July 19-21
Based in: New York
Founded: 2000 (DKNY Swim); Body Sculpt by DKNY Swim launches for cruise 2015.
Back story: Body Sculpt is the new control-focused extension of 14-year-old DKNY Swim. It features 10 suits such as a bandeau one-piece, a shirred tankini and bikini separates including high-waist bottoms. There’s also a smaller selection of cover-ups and tops without its signature control construction. Dual layers of Lycra spandex and microfiber jersey combine fashion, support and comfort, so styles appear more natural compared with obviously structured, classic shapewear. Each fabric layer’s independent movement heightens the effect.
The inaugural palette of black, white, sand, sea blue and jade takes its cue from DKNY ready-to-wear. With the exception of maillots, which are sized from 4 to 14, pieces range from XS to L. The capsule collection retails from $62 to $122 and hits stores in November.
Inspiration: “DKNY is the first designer brand to introduce body-sculpting swimwear in silhouettes that smooth and sculpt to the body,” said Cathy Volker, executive vice president of global licensing, noting the line is aimed at DKNY’s “modern, urban and fashion-conscious customer with multifaceted lifestyle and wardrobe needs.”
NEXT: Seilenna >>
Designer: Annelies De Rouck
Showing: Cabana trade show, booth #221, July 19-21
Based in: New York
Back story: The Belgian alumna of Tommy Hilfiger and Karl Lagerfeld founded her company upon noticing the lack of color, comfort and fit in mix-and-match separates while shopping for swimwear in the Hamptons. She sources materials from Italy and France, where production also takes place, along with Mauritius. The line is available through Fiftytwo Showroom and boutiques like Steven Alan in New York, and 11th Moon in Laguna Beach, Calif.
For her foray into Miami swim week, she is presenting 50 styles in solid colors like citrus yellow, raspberry and moss green, as well as prints inspired by Twenties-era Deauville bathing beauties and Jacques Cousteau’s marine life documentaries. There’s also a striped, textured Lurex metallic. New cuts include Gina, a high-waist bottom. Retail prices start at $130 for separates, $180 for cover-ups and $390 for printed one-pieces.
Inspiration: “There really wasn’t swimwear for girls who love downtown brands like Alexander Wang, Rag & Bone and Helmut Lang,” said De Rouck. “I felt like my friends, who are my muses, and I had to alter our fashion personalities at the beach.”
— Rebecca Kleinman
Designers: Tess Hamilton and Ali Hoffman
Showing: Salon Allure trade show at W South Beach, Suite 809, July 19-22
Based in: Los Angeles
Back story: Part of U.S. swimwear’s fledgling initiative to manufacture domestically, Kaohs hails from downtown Los Angeles. Its founders, two California girls who graduated from the city’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, bonded over their love of the beach and its subcultures, from surfing to skateboarding.
Their 2015 collection, first being shown during Miami swim week, offers six bikinis sold as separates and a one-piece in three colors. Among tops that flatter several cup sizes, they brought back their best-selling Bliss top, a snug apron cut. Mix-and-match bottoms like boy shorts run from cheeky to fuller coverage.
A washed-out palette, mosaic prints and the addition of cowrie shells to a few looks unite their boho direction. Items, which retail from $78 to $102, are limited to swimsuits until the launch of cover-ups and dresses next year.
Inspiration: “Our 2015 line has all my favorite things in a bikini form,” said Hoffman, whose L.A. roots define the brand’s DNA. “Being raised in a beach city but only 20 minutes from downtown allowed me to submerge myself in different cultures and atmospheres.”
“Always being around the balance of beach and fashion neighborhoods is how I grew up, too,” said Hamilton.
Designer: Anya Violet (women’s swimwear); PM Tenore (founder and president); Billabong (owner)
Showing: Soho Beach House, style lounge, July 19-20. Fashion show, penthouse, July 19
Based in: Costa Mesa, Calif.
Founded: 2001 (brand); 2014 (women’s swim).
Backstory: After testing a small batch of women’s suits this year, the SoCal streetwear and lifestyle brand unveils a full women’s swimwear collection by newly appointed in-house designer Anya Violet, in conjunction with its debut at Miami swim week.
A few editorial pieces pop from 44 streamlined styles. One-pieces and bikini tops retail from $36 to $85, while bottoms average $40. Many styles depict custom artwork by Los Angeles-based painter and brand advocate Michelle Blade, a participant in the company’s Artist Network Program; previous collaborations have been with Dash Snow, Raymond Pettibon and Barry McGee.
Inspiration: “Our women’s swimwear is built upon the balance of opposites: order, chaos, past and present, and dark and light. The RVCA girl is no different. She’s inspired by street culture as much as the runway,” said Violet. — R.K.