Newly launched Bang! Swimwear is an edgy and ultra-sexy range designed for women with a strong sense of style and confidence. The début collection channels the two founders’ Caribbean roots, as well being heavily influenced by rock music, and as such Bang! counts Rihanna amongst their celebrity fans.
Both from Kingston, Jamaica, Nell Robinson and Ann Marie Clarke have paired Caribbean energy with a sleek, international edge and dismissed traditional frills and florals associated with swimwear. Instead, they chose trend led prints and fabrics, such as distressed denim, textures and handmade prints which have a strong urban feel for their SS14 collection.
“This collection definitely translates the contrast between our Jamaican roots and the European edge from London, which you can see with the bright colours and bold imagery. The rock theme really struck and we spent hours trawling through books and exhibitions all on the Brit rock scene,” commented co-founder and Jamaican super model Nell Robinson.
As a top lingerie and swimwear model, Nell has a strong sense of style and vested interest in the construction of the designs, whilst partner Ann Marie has a wider perspective on the brand’s image and the swimwear market. “For the past five years I’ve worked for Debenhams and Arcadia, as an integral member of a buying team working on sourcing and garment production, managing a budget and making profit. So setting up my own business was a natural step,” commented Ann Marie.
Underlines met the Bang! swimwear duo to talk about their experience.
Why swimwear/beachwear? We grew up near the beach, so it’s pretty much part of our culture. Also, Nell has a successful modelling career and most of the time when she’s shooting swimwear there’s something that could be tweaked or altered to give a better fit. It’s something she’s always noticed, and with Bang! swimwear we would like to make a difference with fit and cater to difference types of women.
What is your label’s DNA? Rock, edgy, unique and sexy.
What is different about being a swimwear designer? What we find challenging and sometimes even difficult is the number of details and components specific for swimwear. There are dozens of steps involved in manufacturing swimwear, so the construction process is not something straightforward like a t-shirt especially because we have many structured tops in the collection.
Where do you get your inspiration? Popular culture. Rock music transcends time, it influences different generations and specially now you see it in so many different areas of fashion – the t-shirts, the shorts, the denim and washed surfaces – but you don’t see anything like that on swimwear. We’re really into rock music, we go to a lot of rock concerts, we like that whole lifestyle so we want to bring it to our brand.
Who wears or whom do you think wears your collection? Rihanna has worn our electric guitar bikini and we’d love to have celebrities like Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne or Gwyneth Paltrow wearing it too. To see Rita Ora wearing one of our bikinis would be quite cool, also there are a lot of people in Los Angeles that we think would suit the brand, edgy women who are not afraid to be bold and make a statement.
A typical week… Our manufacturers are in Wales and we have to visit there quite often to make sure that production is running on time and also for quality control, so travelling back and forth takes quite a lot of time. Also, there’s liasing with each other, because Nell is a model and travels quite a lot, so we spend a lot of time talking about the designs and what needs to be done when we’re not in the same city. When it comes to really designing the collection we spend a few months together preparing and brainstorming but even after it’s finished a problem can come up and tweaks need to be done, technology helps a lot. Our schedule also depends on the time of year, because swimwear is quite seasonal so now it’s probably our really busy time, trying to meet with different buyers for retail stores here and in Jamaica, and trying to get as much interest in the brand as possible.
Who do you admire for swimwear/beachwear design? There’s a lot of people, for example We Are Handsome, they’re an aspirational brand for us. We also like people who may not be traditional swimwear designers like Norma Kamali, she is someone we aspire to be similar to, very bold with her designs. We also like Lisa Fernandez, Mikoh Swimwear and Cia Maritima.
Any other ambitions in design? We’re hoping to get into sandals, we think it would compliment the line. Also cover ups, it’s the one thing that we keep getting asked about but we haven’t had time to really design it yet. And we’d love to eventually do a small men’s collection.
Your proudest moment to date? That would be when Rihanna wore the bikini, definitely. And we were also quite proud when we unveiled our collection at Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica, it was an amazing moment to be able to show our collection at home.
Time out… We love travelling, going to concerts, shopping, exercising and Nell is currently in love with kickboxing.