Andréa Bernholtz, founder of the Calabasas, Calif., Swiminista brand of women’s swimwear, forecasted a post-pandemic boom as she prepared to roll out the second collection of her brand’s collaboration line The House of Christian Lacroix x Swiminista. After more than 10 months of pandemic restrictions, she projected that many consumers are going to make up for lost time when they make expeditions to beaches, resorts and gatherings at pools once stay-at-home orders are lifted or substantially rolled back, she said.
“I think by March or April people will be coming out of this cocoon that we’ve been in. People will want to appreciate Southern California’s warm environment, and they’ll want to seize the day,” Bernholtz said. Economists at the UCLA Anderson School of Management last month released a forecast that said the U.S. economy should rebound and grow by 6 percent in the second quarter of 2021.
By that time, the second collection of The House of Christian Lacroix x Swiminista should be available on Bernholtz’s direct-to-consumer site, swiminista.com, and at the e-boutique shoplisakline.com, as well as at the bricks-and-mortar boutique Body & Sol, located in Los Angeles’ Tarzana neighborhood.
The second drop of The House of Christian Lacroix x Swiminista will feature new floral prints designed by the Paris-headquartered Christian Lacroix. The more-than-30-year-old fashion house has cultivated a reputation for clothing with a dramatic flair, such as short, puffball skirts, as well as for unique rose prints.
The upcoming collection’s prints have an art-gallery look to them, according to Bernholtz. “It has a sophisticated approach. There is so much depth and layers to these prints,” she said. She also noted that the French fashion house’s prints would appeal to California sensibilities. They offer bright colors, which have been a significant part of the California swimwear look for decades.
Core retail price points for the collaboration collection and other Swiminista styles range from $150 to $250. The brand’s other print styles come in a proprietary leopard print that Bernholtz designed. Silhouettes feature one-piece suits and bikinis with bandeau tops, triangle tops and rash guards. In March, Swiminista’s Christian Lacroix collaboration will introduce sizes for girls. Girls’ swimsuits have been a growing feature of the Swiminista line. The brand rolled out mother-daughter suits in its Mommy and Me Collection, which was unveiled in November.
Bernholtz started Swiminista in 2019 after gaining notice for co-founding the denim and fashion line Rock & Republic, which she left after VF Corp. acquired the label for $57 million in 2011. Swiminista also runs design studios in Laguna Beach, Calif., and Hawaii. The line was intended to be a label for fashionistas looking for swimwear, hence the inspiration for the line’s name, she said. The brand would focus on luxurious sustainable fabrics. It also would focus on a niche that the swim market has often failed to grasp—making swimwear for busty women. The line’s tops are made in sizes up to DD. Bernholtz designs the swim tops and suits with durable fabrics, adjustable straps and hardware to help the wearer make the best fit for herself, Bernholtz said.
Jennifer Lewis, the owner of Body & Sol, said that Swiminista has made a splash in her shop, which has been in business since 1996, because it offers colorful prints for those women who often are not offered as many swimwear choices, she said. Lewis also said that Swiminista’s fabric has been a selling point.
“Someone who is heavier requires more support,” Lewis said. “Swimwear gets stretched out up to one whole size in the water and from wear and tear. So swimwear’s sewing and lining are important.” Fabric needs to be durable for anyone who wants a swimsuit to last beyond a few times wearing it, she said.
While doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, Bernholtz said the period has given her the opportunity to rethink how she works with her customers. During 2020, the brand relaunched its website. It also sought to improve the brand’s online fit guide, which can be found on swiminista.com. Shoppers input details regarding their bra and jeans sizes into the guide, and the guide suggests a Swiminista fit.
“Sizing can be all over the place,” Bernholtz said. “This guide takes a personalized approach. It takes the guesswork out of it.” The brand also offers a “Try at Home” option. It will deliver several sizes of a suit to a customer, who then chooses which size fits best.