SoCal makes a splash
Swimsuits are year-round wear for Southern Californians blessed by an expansive stretch of coastline, temperate climate and ubiquitous pools and beach clubs. ¶ This prime environment contributes to the $4.4-billion U.S. swimwear industry and has produced pioneering swimwear designers including Rudi Gernreich, creator of the topless monokini that shook the world 1962, and Robin Piccone, whose rubber suits revolutionized swimwear in the 1980s. ¶ Los Angeles is still a hotbed for new designers who are modernizing the way we shop for swimwear, tapping the coastal lifestyle, high-end fashion and even humor to inform their collections. Here are some L.A.-based brands that are breaking the mold of traditional swimwear.
The background Bikyni was launched in May by founder and Chief Executive Jude Al-Khalil; bikyni.com
The look Understated swimwear basics that buck trends, heavy hardware and embellishments. Each style comes in a palette of solids (black, white, navy and nectarine among them) and one print, a black-andwhite gingham check.
The hook Al-Khalil started Bikyni in an effort to simplify and streamline the swimsuit buying process that so many women dread. She offers an edited collection of classic shapes and colors available with free shipping and returns through e-commerce only. Shoppers can find the right size and shape through an advanced fit guide that gives options for howmuch support, coverage, adjustability and padding is desired. Tops and bottoms can be purchased as separates in different sizes. “It’smuch more challenging than one would think to find a basic swimsuit with a reasonable price tag but at a designer level,” says Al-Khalil, who plans to implement a live chat function on the site so women can ask specific questions about fit in real time before making a purchase.
The goods Bikyni launched with 10 swimwear styles, which include triangle, bandeau and halter-top shapes, four styles of bottoms and a one-piece suit. All styles are made in Los Angeles and cost $95 for a one-piece or for a top and bottom set ($50 each if purchased separately).
The background Velvet Sphynx was founded by Bettina Ivanovich in 2014;
The look Plenty of whimsical and downright wacky prints. Think sportier cuts such as sports bra style tops and deep V-neck one-piece suits emblazoned with colorful pizza, dog, snake and toucan prints. “I wanted to bring something different to the market, something bold that would have people doing double takes,” says Ivanovich, who is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. “The prints, styles and names are all derived from elements ofmy everyday life and frommy childhood growing up in the ’80s.”
The hook Ivanovich’s bold take on bathing suits recently caught the eye of pop star Rihanna, who wore the pizza print Spicoli bikini during a Hawaiian vacation. The designer says she will be sending the singer additional statement-making styles in hopes she might be seen in more of Velvet Sphynx’s splashy suits.
The goods Ivanovich creates five to eight styles each season, and each comes in three to seven prints and colors. All styles are manufactured in Los Angeles and range from $58 for a top to $88 for a bottom and $180 for a onepiece suit.
The line Marysia was founded by Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves, who relocated her business from New York to Los Angeles this year.
The look Fashion-driven or vintageinspired suits that are created in a European couture factory. Scalloped edges are cut by hand and several bikini bottoms have high waists for a modern pin-up feeling. “I really saw a void in the market for amore elevated boutique swim brand driven by fashion,” Reeves says. The former ballerina and current surf enthusiast also creates rash guards and cover-ups.
The hook The line has been a celebrity favorite for several seasons and was most recently worn by Gwyneth Paltrow and Jaime King. This season, Reeves collaborated with designer Jonathan Cohen on a capsule collection featuring a Leopard Stroke print that is a cross between leopard spots and polka dots and is available on the Marysia website.
The goods About 40 items, with bikini tops and bottoms $130 per piece and a one-piece suit $315.
The line LeSwim was founded in 2014 by Adriana Caras, previously known for her high-end shoe and handbag designs; leswim.it
The look A collection of glamorous and sophisticated swimsuits, caftans, rash guards and cover-ups. “I’m really inspired by the fashion plates from the late 1960s and early 1970s, like Jacqueline Onassis and those iconic shots of her aboard the Christina O, cruising the Mediterranean,” Caras says. A similar sense of glamour is infused into her suits and seen as ’70s-style asymmetrical straps on a one-piece or a lace front closure a la Yves Saint Laurent snaking up a black maillot.
The hook Caras and L.A.-based photographer Paul Robinson collaborated on exclusive swimwear prints created from Robinson’s photos. The capsule line bowed in May, blurring the lines between fashion and art.
The goods LeSwim is made up of mix-and-match separates, many of them reversible. There are 12 tops ranging from $115 to $142 and 12 bottoms ranging from $103 to $115. One-piece suits range from $240 to $295. Caras’ caftans come in either cotton or silk and cost between $265 and $400.