Did you always want to start your own business?
I always had a burning desire to be my own boss and create something from scratch. I was fortunate that the concept behind Arabella London came naturally to me and at what to me felt like the right time in my life to pursue it. I found something I was incredibly passionate about and so I decided to bite the bullet, take a risk, work hard, and see if I could turn my passion into a career and build a business and brand.
How did the idea for Arabella London come about?
To put it frankly: I was completely dissatisfied with the swimwear available to women, especially the silhouettes. When they weren’t clumsy at the seams, they at best resembled granny pants! On the beach I'd notice women bunch their bikini bottoms in order to create a better shape which justified my own feelings that perhaps it wasn't just me (who was unsatisfied and) who desired a more flattering shape. As the sun set and women went on to their next venue, swimwear was completely covered up and became uncomfortable underpinnings for a new outfit. It was here I found the perfect space to reinvent swimwear as a transitional and transeasonal garment - multi-functional styles which could work perfectly on the beach and move seamlessly into the evening. I travelled around Europe to handpick each element for the designs in order to bring this dream to life. Unique Italian fabric with combined swimwear, active-wear and ready-to-wear properties enabled me to create swimwear which could be worn beyond the beach. This concept also influenced the design details - creating more sophisticated pieces to be worn right into the evening, and more relaxed styles to be worn as "swimtimates" on a lazy day.
What have you enjoyed most about starting a business?
The chaos, excitement, learning something you could never be taught, the people I've met and opportunities I've had and most rewarding - seeing an idea in your mind becoming something tangible.
What have you found the hardest part so far about starting and running your own business?
Swimwear is one of the hardest garments to make because of the stretch fabric - add in some support - cups & wires and it is a very technical garment. Learning and - finally! - understanding contour design has been really challenging. Managing many roles - from design, sourcing, finding factories, production, sales, PR, social media, and creative direction is constantly demanding but it has been the best way to learn. It's always go - we have started 2018 shapes, colours, and potentially (!) a print. Trusting your intuition amidst complete uncertainty takes a lot of strength as you can't rely on external validation - not everyone is going to back you! You also can't share risk, failure or responsibility going solo!
What is the future for the business?
We are thinking big, but taking each step at a time. My dream is for Arabella London to one day be a globally recognised brand with independent boutiques and stockists. Moving the brand into retail is the next big learning curve…!
Where are the pieces made and where do the fabrics comes from?
The prototypes are created by expert pattern cutters based in London. My sister is the perfect base size for the fit model so each design is created, tried on, tweaked, re-made, fitted, tweaked again and again until we are entirely happy with how the pieces sit on the body. When perfected, we move to the grade (sizing), create the spec sheets, method of make and have all the assets ready for production. The sampling process takes months and months - hence why we are on 2018 already! I selected the components from Europe - the cups, wires, & thread from Germany, the elastic & fabric from Italy, the hardware from France and I craft the line in Morocco at an incredibly experienced factory, alongside some major luxury brands / competitors!
How did you discover the perfect ‘convex curve’ design for your swimwear?
This took a lot of tweaking and analysis to create the perfect curve! The briefs are seamless so sit softly on the body like a second skin. They are classy without being too skimpy and they certainly flatter a number of different body shapes!
How did you decide on the colours for your current collection?
I went with colours associated with ready-to-wear, to fit with the brand concept & aesthetic. Black is always slimming so it is a key colour and will always be - however, the plum is selling equally well, so I might carry this through future collections…
Which is your favourite piece from the collection?
I love the Modern Bustier with the monowire & thick straps, and also the Contour Bra. This took 9 prototypes to crack and caused a great deal of stress along the way. It is innovative & we had to constantly adapt and change the style and materials in order to make it work with the pre-formed cups. Thankfully we stuck with it, as overall it is the best-seller so far!
I love the concept of your fusion pieces – how do you wear your pieces? And how would you style one of your swimsuits as an evening outfit?
Thank you! I often wear the Plunge Crop as a soft undergarment or the One80 as an unwired, comfortable lightly padded t-shirt bra. For evening wear I've worn the Contour Swimsuit in black with my favourite Victoria Beckham flares. The scalloped edge makes it really striking!
What did you study and how has this influenced you?
I studied Art History - I think looking at art and composition, colours, texture and style helped my creative eye - this is perhaps reflected in the Instagram feed. I am a complete perfectionist so the images are uploaded to a hidden account before I post in order to make sure the light, colour scheme and images all align as you scroll through the feed as a whole.
Where is your favourite place to wear your swimwear?
The beach - I am dying for some sun!
What are you most looking forward to for the holiday season?
Sales! And hopefully some features in the glossy magazines.