Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Makes An Enduring Swimwear Label?

I often ask myself this question...I have's my business to do so. As the New Year approaches, I'm going through our books, organizing, adding and deleting vendors and renewing our catalog for the upcoming season. It never surprises me which swimwear labels continue to make the grade over the years. It's's the honest ones; the companies that deliver as promised, offer superb workmanship and fit, continue to wow us with their creativity and always, ALWAYS put their customers first. Now, is that really any wonder? As retailers and consumers, I think that is what all of us are looking for, especially these days when a dollar is so hard to come by.

There have been many swimwear companies that were certainly honest and still didn't make it. It takes a lot these days to overcome the hurdles, not to mention plenty of capital reserves to weather the tides. Over the years, I've sadly had to cull out some very good companies with talented designers, only because they couldn't deliver early enough that season, or, "their loyal customer," has moved on to another label. Fashion is so fickle and this business is so tough.

Then, there have been the... how shall I say it... "Less than honest," ones. It's not that they actually lie about things; it's just that they can't seem to ring true with their potential followers. There's the cute, little designer that thinks she is the most gorgeous thing on the beach, therefore, she is the only one in the world with enough know-how to design a bikini. There's the trust fund baby with way too much money on her hands and not enough talent. There's the disorganized designer that does great work, but can't follow through. There's the high-powered glam girl that is all about greed and not about working together with everyone else. They all have another agenda and it's not producing and selling swimwear for market.

Karla Colletto's Ruching Skirted Bikini
But enough negativity...I'd much rather focus on the enduring brands. Take Karla Colletto, for example. Karla and her partner, Lisa Rovan, started out by designing and dishing up some pretty outrageous swimsuits in those early days. At that time, they catered to a younger crowd and they offered some wildly daring designs such as starfish cut-outs over the breasts, unusual piecing, embellishments, etc. Their swimsuits have become more conservative over the years, although, no less beautiful. What contributed to their underlying success through out the seasons was their attention to quality, fit and detail. They also kept up with the technological advancements of fabrics, findings and production. Most importantly, they made a point to deliver on time, season after season, just as promised. Their code rang true to all of their clientele: retailers, consumers, yesterday and today.

Melissa Odabash's Los Angeles Bikini

Melissa Odabash is another designer that comes to mind when searching for a swim label with longevity. For Ms. Odabash, it's all about relating to her customer. She makes and designs swimsuits and cover-ups that she, herself, would love to wear. As a former model, she definitely understands a thing or two about, "beauty on the beach," but she doesn't flaunt that. She's not trying to compete with her customer. Women are attracted to her swimsuits because her designs make the most of a woman's body, carefully crafted with love and sympathy. A girl knows what to expect when she orders a MO bikini...superb quality, classic styling and a true fit.

Salinas' Praiana Bikini

I can't continue this column without mentioning Salinas Swimwear.  How did this bikini label meteorically rise to the top of the swimwear heap, come crashing down from the mountain and rise back up again? I can tell you...they've been honest and true to both, their design and business ethics. Salinas will always be known as the teeny-tiny, teen, bikini sensation from Brazil, but what people don't always understand is that it's not just sexy, flash-in-the-pan glam here...There's some real creativity that goes into those Salinas swimsuits. Shortly after a generation of fit bodies passes through their doors, they must still be ready for the next, younger set of customers waiting in the wings. (Or shall I say water's edge?) Salinas is continually coming up with original, clever, new ideas for their bikinis and they aren't all teeny-tiny anymore either. But the consistent thread that runs through and through Salinas Swimwear is that it creates fun, innovative designs for the teen swimwear world. Their looks will always make you smile and, because they know and design for the teen market, kindly and justly, they've also tried to be kind to the teen wallet. Even though they're a celebrated name in the swimwear business, they've kept their prices very reasonable and within reach to their loyal following. Consumers love that...and so do retailers like us.

I could go on about a few other labels whose designers I admire, but I’m running out of room here. Such is the subject of another column and I promise that it will come soon; for they all deserve mention. I will say, however that all successful swimwear designers run tight ships, they keep it together when things get horribly bad, or crazy good and they never let it all go to their heads. It's never about them.  Everyone of these designers shares the mantra, “The customer comes first.” Thank you to you all. You’ve made us look wonderful and I hope that our little store can live up to your standards.

~ C.

Monday, December 26, 2011

ANK Swimwear Brings On the Luxe

We have been so impressed with the new, 2012 ANK Swimwear...It's simply beautiful!  The fabrics are high quality, the findings are top notch, the workmanship and fit are impeccable and the designs are not what everyone else is doing.  This is the first year for us with ANK.  I certainly hope that our loyal customers will trust our judgement and give this label a try.  This label is headed by celebrated Brazilian swimwear designer, Mirla Sabino.  Here's a look see of what just came in our store from ANK:

Aliseos Bikini, (note the unique top with sheer neck sash and pleating on the cups.)

Moher Bikini in a deep, sea blue with large grommets and lacing

Nanga Bikini with high, arched bra cups, creating a great shape!

Uluru Bikini with same top, fold-over bottom, done in a khaki-taupe color


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bitty Bottoms Are Turning Heads

Minimal bottoms are back!  OK, maybe they've never left, but we are now seeing a stronger demand for the itty bitty back side.  Is this a sign of better times?  (Kind of like hemlines?)  I don't know, but for those of you who love to show off the derriere, you'll want to shop some of the new swimwear brands, such as Salt, Tori Praver, SAHA and Boy + Arrows.  Of course, let's not forget the label that started it all...Salinas .

Tori Praver Swimwear 2012

Boys + Arrows Swimwear 2012

Salinas Swimwear 2012

Some swimsuits are now in stock.  Others will be arriving soon, so please check back for updates.  Bottoms up!

~ C.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

We hope that you're all having a wonderful holiday season.  Be sure to travel safely and if you're going to a tropical destination...well, we all hate you...not really...have a great time!

~ C.

Boys + Arrows Swimwear 2012...

OK...We've been shot through the heart with Boys + Arrows 2012 swimwear collection.  Here's a preview of what's to come in January:

We'll check back with you with updates.  Expect the latest 2012 Boys+Arrows Swimwear to arrive in our store around the first of the year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Having a Fringe Fling With L*Space 2012

There's been lots on new swim designers that have caught on to the fringe thing, but L*Space did the original.  It's fun and flirty, swinging and sexy.   Here's L*Space Swimwear's latest take on the fringe swimsuit for 2012:

Dolly Superfly Fringe Bikini

Tiffany Fringed Bandeau Bikini

Stardust 1-Piece Cut-Out Swimsuit
~ C.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Swimwear with a "Salty" Bite - Salt Swimwear 2012

It always amazes me what talented swimwear designers can do with a couple of scraps of fabric.  Salt Swimwear makes the most of very little, in order to deliver some awesome swimsuits and bikinis. 
Salt Swimwear has an urban sophistication with a beachy attitude.  We love that combo!   We will be bringing you the latest from Salt after the first of the year.  Shop...enjoy!

Salt Swimwear 2012, Arriving Soon at Tropi-Ties Swimwear

Glorious Sunshine Thanks to Salt Swimwear
Olivia-Hannah Bikini by Salt Swimwear for 2012

Phoebe-Helena Bikini, Salt Swimwear
(More photos to follow in the near future.)
~ C.

Friday, December 9, 2011

In Memory of Cindy Zallen

For those of you who have been in the swimwear business for awhile, you will probably be familiar with swimwear guru/rep/designer, Cindy Zallen.  I'm so sad to to tell you all that Cindy passed away yesterday.  She was a very dear friend of mine and I have to say, she knew the ins and outs swimwear better than anyone I know.  We met each other at MAGIC, over twelve years ago, and became close friends right away.  She wasn't model thin...not by a long shot...but that didn't ever stop me from listening to what she had to say and vice versa.  This woman knew swimwear.  But besides that, she was astute, funny, clever, knowledgeable, sympathetic, caring and most of all, a very good listener with a great perception of people.  What she lacked in physical attributes, she certainly made up for in personality and brains and I always enjoyed her company.  We were frequent roomies in Miami, Arizona, Las Vegas and San Diego...all the shows. ( I finally had to insist that we get separate rooms because she snored so damn loud...LOL.)  We shared our thoughts and opinions about each, new season's line-up, the upcoming designers and the political upheavals of the swimwear world.

Cindy struggled with some serious weight issues, which seems odd that she would be so involved with women's swimwear.  But she reminded us all that we all have our day in the sun and that the world does not revolve around ultimate perfection, but it does revolve around change and its acceptance.  It's now up to her husband, Oscar and son, Zac, to accept this change of her not being there anymore to oversee their lives.  The holidays are upon us and I will certainly miss her...not to mention her making of those delicious latkes.  Good bye my friend, thank you for lived life well.

~ C.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Little Birdies In The Tree...Fresh Swim Labels On The Horizon

It's good to see change; it's great to see new innovations, especially in beach fashion.  There are a few, new swimwear labels that have caught our eye this year, due to their new vision and fresh approach to swimsuits and bikinis.  We've picked up a couple of them this winter and hope to bring you more, later in the season. 

First, one of our hometown faves, is Boys + Arrows Swimwear from our own home port of Ventura, CA.  Boys + Arrows Swimwear has sass and attitude and never apologizes for being who they are.  Designer, Meagan Scott, is fearless in her designs, uses only the best of materials and, let's face it, puts a little fun into everything that she does.  We like that...a California girl doin' good! 

Meagan Scott, designer for Boys + Arrows Swimwear

Boys + Arrows Swimwear 2012 - Havalah the Homewrecker Bikini

I know, we've already mentioned Tori Praver Swimwear, but since we're on the subject of new labels, her line is worth a second say.  Tori hails from another former home of ours, Hawaii, and so we feel that we understand her fashion speak.  We have watched her blossom from a beautiful Letarte model, to major runway and Sports Illustrated lass, and now, a talented swimwear designer.  As a surfer, she has the know-how of what it takes to create the perfect bikini.  We love her puckered, floral fabrics and chic on-pieces. 

Lily Bikini by Tori Praver Swimwear 2012

There are other lines that we're keeping our eye on.  One, is SHIMMI Swimwear, an LA based line that has a real, "spoiled brat," attitude...we like that.  Scarlett Chorvat and Alison Renner are the creative designers of SHIMMI Swimwear.  Both are successful models on a world wide scale and they've brought their experience and sense of style to SHIMMI.  There are lots of new bodies and shapes that we just haven't seen before.  We hope to bring you a tasting of their latest wares this spring.

We Are Handsome Swimwear has been making a big splash over the last couple of years.  The come from Australia (no, we've never lived there...but we'd like to someday.)  I just love their bold, artistic, photo-prints and clever shapes!  Those Australians...they keep coming on strong with their beach stuff. 

Recycled Swimwear by Rose, is just so wonderful!  Another SOCAL label that is very independent, an upstream swimmer, so to speak.  Rose Ponizil creates her designs from recycled clothing and garage sale finds, all spiffed up with ribbons and bows.  What comes off of her sewing machine is vintage looking and marvelous!  Cute, cute stuff!  We're hoping that she will give us the honor of carrying a few of her items this spring.

Looking across pond in search of new looks, we found a couple of other Euro lines that whipped at our whimsy.  Although, they aren't necessarily new, they're new to us:  Roseanna from France, Naelie (another French label,) and Guia la Bruna of Italy.  We'll keep a watch on them, as well. 

If you know of any other new swim designers on the horizon....please...we want to know about them.  drop us an email at  Learning by word-of-mouth is always better than by hype.

~ C.