VIP South Beach Magazine Interview Amara Swimwear:
AMARA days and South Beach nights: A conversation with AMARA Swimwear designer, Lisa Jackson. Lisa Jackson, the founder and designer of AMARA Swimwear, is a passionate advocate for ethical swimwear that also flatters a woman’s feminine sensuality. AMARA Swimwear is a luxury swimwear company that launched August 1, 2013 and debuted the first collection at Miami Swim Week in 2014. Designer Lisa Jackson was named a Lycra Brand ambassador in 2014 and the brand has been swiftly gaining both industry and consumer accolades.
AMARA fabric is made with 78-percent recycled post-consumer plastics recovered from the oceans and Lycra Xtra Life for lasting durability. Lisa is passionate about creating ethical fashion that is good for the planet and those who work in the garment industry
Question: What was your inspiration to start your own swimwear line? Why did you decide to design swim wear and not other clothing lines?
Answer: The inception of the brand was very organic, almost as if I had no choice in the matter. Approximately 10 years ago, I randomly walked into a fabric store one day and was drawn to this gorgeous turquoise spandex fabric, and I decided to take it home. I had no idea how to make a bikini, but I was determined to turn this piece of fabric into something beautiful. I laid out the fabric on my living room floor, traced another bikini to create a pattern and added some intricate gold chain as embellishment. I was working as a makeup artist in Toronto at the time. One morning before a photo shoot, the photographer called me and asked if I could bring some wardrobe, as the stylist had dropped out last minute. I brought the bikini with me and the photographer ended up using it for the shoot. The pictures went up on Facebook and another photographer reached out and asked me to create more custom bikinis for her clients. Even though I had no idea what I was doing or how to properly construct a bathing suit, I decided to accept the challenge! I got paid $75 per swimsuit and got to tap into this incredible creative outlet. As more and more images of my custom bikinis started going up on social media, people started asking if they could purchase them. The styling was incredibly unique and eye-catching, but I had to take this opportunity and talent seriously and learn how to craft a high quality swimsuit. I immersed myself in learning about garment construction and pattern drafting so I could turn this little hobby into a real business to offer bikinis that my customers could actually swim in. Now that I’ve spent almost 10 years focused on swimwear, I’m really excited to announce we will be expanding our product lines to include ready to wear, accessories and a beach-friendly cosmetic line.
Q: What was the most challenging part of doing a swimwear line? What is the most important thing in making a great swimsuit?
A: The most challenging parts of creating a swimwear line are finding the right manufacturing relationships to bring the designs to life, and getting the patterns perfected, because the fit and cut is so crucial for creating trust with our customer. For me, it’s so important that our AMARA babes feel confident and comfortable on those perfect sun-soaked, ocean side afternoons. A bikini is the closest we can get to being naked, without baring it all. I believe wearing one of our pieces should feel like an intimate extension of ourselves without forsaking style and comfort. “Effortless” is a word I keep in the forefront of my mind when putting my collections together.
Q: Do you personally come up with each design?
A: I have been designing everything myself, including the textile design and pattern drafting, from the very beginning. Since launching in 2013 I had been running the whole business as a one woman show, doing everything from social media and customer service, right down to website design and photography. I’m thrilled to say that the team is now growing and I’m really excited to be able to focus all my attention on creative direction, design and product development going forward. It’s been so exciting to shift from doing everything myself to having this incredibly supportive team behind me who truly believe in my vision for the brand.
Q: Where is your swimwear made and what materials do you use?
A: Up to this current season, we have been manufacturing in the Garment District in New York City. However, we recently decided to move our production down to Mexico as I have been living in Tulum for a little over two years now. I wanted to bring the manufacturing process closer to home to allow me to be more hands on with production and be able to give back to the community I’m living in. Our seamless, photographic, laser cut “Hotcakes” bottoms are still printed, cut and sewn in the USA. All our swimwear is created with an Italian fabric made of a blend of recycled plastics recovered from our oceans and Xtra Life Lycra to help our pieces last for years to come without losing shape or elasticity.
Q: What separates your designs from other swimwear brands?
A: The swimwear industry is really trailblazing right now and is becoming a respected segment of fashion in its own right. There are so many incredible brands out there pushing the limits and raising the bar in quality and design. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just creating more noise with pretty girls in pretty bikinis. I was passionate to make sustainability the focus of the brand, which has heavily influenced my design decisions. I find designing with this mandate to utilize a certain kind of fabric, really dictates the aesthetic and creates a distinct look that helps set the brand apart. When designing my collections, I think a lot about versatility. Because our society has gotten used to the “fast fashion” trend, people really want variety in their wardrobes, and swimwear is no exception. I try to be thoughtful of this and design in a way that allows our customer to create several looks with just a few pieces. All our pieces are reversible and mix and match, and I try to incorporate convertible styles that can be worn several ways whenever possible. Quality over quantity is a personal mantra but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to have our cake and eat it too! With AMARA, you can buy three pieces and easily create 10 looks that will last you several years, not just a season.
Q: Can I buy your designs at the swimwear stores in Miami?
A: You can find some of our pieces at Nikki’s Beachhouse Boutique, as well as iShine365 in Miami.
Q: Miami Beach is full of beautiful women wearing swimwear. Why is your brand best for South Beach?
A: AMARA has a subtle element of sex appeal and luxury that fits
perfectly with the South Beach scene. Our bikinis are meant for confident women who like to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. The women of South Beach exude that confidence which makes our AMARA brand a perfect fit.
Q: Why is Swim Week good for your business?
A: Miami Swim Week is a time when the global swimwear industry comes together to showcase the best swimwear in the world – it is the place to see and be seen! To me, it’s crucial to show our collections in Miami to be noticed by the best boutiques and publications. Participation in Miami Swim Week has created solid relationships with key retailers and buzz for the brand that cannot be matched in any other market.