As if you needed an excuse to plan another stylish beach getaway, Shea Marie of Peace Love Shea has launched her first-ever swimwear line, Same Swim. And well, we haven’t been this excited about bikinis in a long time. Made from Italian fabrics and hand-stitched in L.A., each piece has a one-of-a-kind feel that’s sure to make you a standout poolside.
We caught up with Marie during Paris Fashion Week to get the scoop on her first foray into design, so keep reading for our exclusive interview, and shop your favorite styles below!
Who What Wear: This is your first major foray into design. What made you choose swimwear?
Shea Marie: It's such an exciting time for swimwear—more and more, it's really being seen as a respected form of fashion. I've been attending fashion weeks for the past four weeks, New York to Paris, and nearly every designer has sent swim down the runway. That, and I am a born and raised California girl, so it made sense.
WWW: How would you describe the Same Swim woman?
SM: Effortlessly chic: a woman who stands out without trying to stand out.
WWW: Is there a story behind the name Same Swim?
SM: Yes! It's the first and last letters of Shea and Marie. Of course, everyone suggested I use my full name, but I really wanted to be behind the scenes on this. I didn't want to be in the campaign; I didn't want to overly use myself to publicly promote the brand. I want the design and the quality to speak for itself, and for the line to be successful with or without using my name to promote it. I want to focus on design and creative direction and be respected for that.
WWW: What were some of your influences for this first collection?
SM: It was an amazing process, because I literally thought to myself, If I could have any swimsuit in the world, what would it look like? I started drawing sketches of what my dream suit would be and from there started to make it come to life. I wanted something that would be aesthetically beautiful, something that would photograph amazing and stand out. I wanted my suits to be the one where everyone on the beach comes up and asks, "Where did you get that?" They are recognizable, and they are unique. I really wanted that high-end designer element to it. They are made out of an amazing new swim fabric out of Italy and the stitching is all hand done and all done in L.A., which I'm really proud of as well.
WWW: What did you find was the most challenging part of creating a swimwear line?
SM: I knew nothing about production or actually creating a garment. I took my sketches into the swim factory and was like, "How can we do this?" My first idea was to layer fabrics on top of each other to create the triangle pattern and to give it a 3D element. In this case, one layer of fabric would need to be glued over the other and unfortunately, that doesn't really work great for swim—those kinds of things I didn't understand. I didn't hire anyone, a marketing team, a sales team, nothing. I did everything myself and I just taught myself very guerrilla style. I photographed the lookbook, met with buyers and did sales, and did all the PR. I've been working 24 hours a day for the past 10 months making this come to life. It's been insane. But thankfully we do have one amazing employee now!
WWW: What has been the most exciting part so far?
SM: Watching something that was at one point just an idea in your mind come to life step by step has been incredible. The fact that it's been so well received literally makes me want to cry thinking about it. I've put everything I have into this: my time, my energy, my money, and my life. I think you only get one chance to make a first impression, so I've done everything to make this perfect. I think that people will be quick to judge someone in my position for "not really being a designer." I wanted to be able to prove anyone that might have something negative to say wrong. Even now, it's 2 a.m., I've been working since 7 a.m., and I'm not going to sleep until I finish this interview. :)
WWW: Did you learn anything interesting about swimwear during the design process?
SM: So many things, I don't even know where to begin. Everything from how to construct a swimsuit to sizing, stretch, stitching. Something that is meant to be in water all the time has to have extreme durability. You have so many more limitations.
WWW: How did you factor a wide range of body types into the design of this collection?
SM: My best friend has DD boobs, and she can never find a swimsuit that fits her—ever! I was like, "I promise I'll make something that works for you." Of course, it can be tricky with a triangle top, but the halter top fits her better than any swimsuit she's ever owned. I tried the suits on so many different body types. We have halters, bandeaus, triangle tops, and regular bottoms and tie-side bottoms, so there's something for everyone.
WWW: I love that you created matching T-shirts to go with the collection. What was the catalyst for that decision?
SM: Usually a swimwear collection includes cover-ups, like little dresses and sarongs. I'm the type of girl who likes to wear vintage jean shorts and a perfect cotton tee over my bathing suit, so I thought why don't I make tees that go with the bathing suits? They are the perfect cotton tees that are amazing worn with or without a suit.
WWW: Who would you love to see wearing your suits?
SM: A mix of all kinds of women. I think that would be the best, to know like I created something that appealed to a wide range of women. Oh, and Rihanna would be cool too!
WWW: We have to know: Where do you get your amazing body jewelry?
SM: XIV Karats in Beverly Hills!
WWW: If you could design anything else besides swimwear, what would it be and why?
SM: Before I decided to do swim I played around with the idea of shoes and bags. I toured leather factories in Italy and even had beautiful bag samples made. They are awesome, and I think that I will definitely head down those directions sooner or later, but I just got so excited with swim that everything else is on the back burner for now!