The luxury swimwear brand you should pack for your next trip to Bali
The saying, "better late than never" is not often applicable in fashion. This is not an industry; this is a members only club that rewards its clients for their sharp noses, their ability to conquer new grounds and unearth up-and-comers (aka the next big label) just as it compels them to be the first to ditch the scene the moment eager B- and C-listers' interests are properly piqued. By the time masses get through the gilded doors, tastemakers are well on their way to the next almost-It.
Once in a blue moon, the truth turns on its head and even the most skeptical (read: snobbish) of cognoscenti admits tardiness. That happens when we discover the golden triangle, the genetic makeup of any successful name — relevance, quality and beauty. Any brand big or small standing on that tripod reigns supreme. It's a universal truth: people care about brands that speak their language, and continue to deliver uncompromising craftmanship through beautiful things.
It's the reason why Aguaclara, a Peruvian swimwear label that's approaching 30 next year, is still in the scene. Though it's name is more often whispered from ear to ear than shouted on rooftops, their offerings, ripe in history and rich in consciousness, are exactly the kind of clandestine mineral brewing underground awaiting a major break.
First step, speaking to one of two of its makers, Liliana Villalobos, about the history of the brand and why it still has a long road ahead.
Tell us a little about the history of Aguaclara.
My brother and I started back in 1989 at our parents' house. They gave us the basement to start our business. At the beginning, there were only a couple of furniture and a ping-pong table where we started to cut our first pieces. Back in the day, Peru was in a very deep crisis because of the terrorism of Sendero Luminoso. Also, imports were prohibited, and the only bikinis and swimwear that could be found here were from people that brought them from Brazil in suitcases to sell. So we decided to try our hand at swimwear, a product that was not found here. We made our first production that summer, and we sold them all.
How did the current collection come about?
Our main source of inspiration is the Amazonas. It almost always gives us the spirit of each collectionwe put out, but this time its exoticism, cultures and colours are mixed in my head. One of our most important techniques is in the designing our own prints, a process that takes approximately six months. Then there's the very elaborated embroidery, of which two groups emerge in this collection. My favourite pieces are the beautiful and sexy one-pieces such as Folk, and also all the long kaftans with movement that only silk and gauze can provide, lending that ethereal and goddess vibe to every woman.
Swimwear designs have been quite outrageous the last few years. More fashion, less function. How does Aguaclara balance the two?
We keep adding more silhouettes to our stories so our design concepts and principles of quality can be applied on more women with different bodies.
Is Aguacara big on CSR?
We are very keen on developing our ecological and social responsibility orientation. We hope to have a collaborative agreement with a community of the Amazon this coming year. We do not have anything concrete yet. Having said that, our embroideries are not made by peasant communities, but by women from the Lima outskirts, from remote areas and with scarce resources — women who work from their homes to support their families. All these people come from the [poor] mountainous regions or from the jungle. We are also looking for organic cotton for some of the cover-ups in our next collection.
How do you recommend getting rid of/even out crazy tan lines?
Actually, women change up their swimsuit repertoire lots nowadays, sometimes more than twice a day. So, really, the tan lines do not stay for very long.
As a child, did you spend a lot of time in your swimsuit?
I have such good memories of these childhood days. When I was five years old, my father was the Peruvian military attache to the Embassy in Brazil. We lived between the best two beaches of Rio de Janeiro, only three blocks separating us from Ipanema and Copacabana. After coming home from school in the afternoons, we went to the beach every day with my mother. It's safe to say I've spent a lot of time in a bikini. Lycra didn't exist then. No elastic fabric either. Bikinis were made of a type of printed canvas, but they were so beautiful.
What are your top tips in picking out the perfect swimwear for your body type?
It shouldn't be too tight, as marks are unslightly. Also, try on all kinds of swimsuits. It is important to spend some time on this as usually, women want to buy the same silhouette as always, but it is amazing how new designs can look so good. You may be surprised.
Aguaclara swimwear is available on Coco Takumi.