Monday, April 29, 2013

Albion Fit Is A Swimwear Design Pick

Albion Swimwear
Last year, I was taken with a new swimwear collection that was anything but boring. The collection carried a retro pinup styling with knotted bodices and ruffled skirts. They were anything but expected.

As it turns out, the Stardust collection created for Shabby Apple had a story behind the story. The designer responsible is a family-owned husband-wife team based out of Salt Lake City.

For the last five years, Liz and Dave Findlay have designed and led a core team of designers and pattern makers to create a full line of swimwear with a mission. Or, more precisely, a motto: feminine, sophisticated, true, and timeless. For about three of those years, they have had fun drawing inspiration from the 40s, 50s, and 60s to draw out some of those timeless qualities and recreate a smarter sexy.

"For us, it's all about looking as good as you possibly can in a suit and that often means leaving a bit more to the imagination," says Liz Findlay. "It also is more practical and more comfortable, making it a win, win." 

The cuts and stylings aren't the only inspirations borrowed from the past. Albion Fit frequently picks a color palette that complements each suit. And while they don't use many patterns, the few that do have patterns tend to be classic. Stripes and polka dots are still very cool.

"I think what sets our suits apart is that, often, they just don't look like a swimsuit," she says. "The gown suit [for example] could be a dress if you look at it from the waist up."

The one-piece gown suit is one of several that caught my eye this season. Although it is a one-piece suit, the Findlays designed it with flattering ruching at the waist. There is also a creative flair along the top of the suit, a ruffle that gives it a little more to look at and it's timelessness.

The fabric makes a difference too. Rather than adding cover ups, all anyone has to do is pull a skirt up over the bottoms and create the illusion that the swimsuit is a form-fitted top. It's flattering and functional.

Other styles that have recently rolled out at Albion Fit.

Although the gown is an immediate eye catcher, there are several suits that make an impact. Albion has created pin-up cuts, ballerina suits, nautical two-pieces, and a variety of mix and match bow tops. Most of them feel fashionably modern with a nod to the past.

The nautical bow suit, for example, adds more coverage while looking a little more flirty with its bow-tie detailing. The look is classic, inspired by the sixties, and immediately reminded me of an active suit more fitting for surf or scuba diving than what many women wear.

Although Albion writes it up as a suit with strategic ruching and ample coverage, the real twist is finding something that not everyone is going to be wearing on the beach. Even the bottoms, with two rows of buttons as accents and a boyish charm that contrasts with the form-fitted top, rewrites the rules about getting noticed.

A few more graphs about the design team at Albion Fit.

While many residents from Utah might know better, the rest of the country might be surprised to find fashion-savvy swimsuits coming out of Salt Lake City. Although the Great Salt Lake isn't suitable for swimming, the city does have three lakes nearby, all within a 40-minute drive. Lake Powell is also a beautiful place for inspiration beyond their California ties.

"I went to graduate school at the University of California, San Diego, and my husband was a graphic designer in La Jolla for five years," says Liz Findlay. "We lived five blocks from the beach and pretty much lived there when we weren't working."

Nowadays, however, it is more likely that they are both working. The Findlays have had a huge year, opening their first retail space at the new City Creek Center in Salt Lake City. Their new store puts them alongside neighbors like Tiffany and Rolex.

Maybe even more memorable is the personal connection they have with the space. They are located in the same spot where they met 15 years ago (the copy room of a law firm that literally exists above their store). And across the street? It's the same place they married a decade ago, completing a full circle journey.

Retro Swimwear By Albion Fit Splashes 8.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

While the Stardust Collection is still available from Shabby Apple, Albion Fit has also launched its own online store. All of the inspired designs are readily available from the online store and many are featured in the company's new retail space. Along with swimsuits, the designers have added a sports line too.

When you visit the site, you might notice that the tops and bottoms of many suits are sold separately. This is by design because Albion Fit doesn't want anyone to feel like one has to be married to another. What they have done instead is to add a "consider this" drop down that suggests several ideas, although customers tend to be more creative on their own.

*Special thanks to our editor Rich Becker who interviewed the Findlays and contributed to the story.
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