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;

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).

Vel­vet Sph­ynx

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;

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.

Le Swim



Vel­vet Sph­ynx

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