Working with inspiring brands and people is why we at SpellBrand come to work every day. In the increasingly commercial world of fashion, it is rare to come across brands or people that look at the world in a different way – a way which makes a difference. One such brand is Isla Aditi, a Swimwear Brand. In this article, I want to share with you the inspiring story of how Isla Aditi was born and took shape – from the idea to clothing brand launch and what makes this brand so special.
Isla Aditi Brand Story
Fashion designer Jessica West founded Isla Aditi to empower women. The story began with her personal desire for new adventure and love for travel, especially to culturally rich, tropical locations. The concept for Isla Aditi was born when Jessica and her two daughters spent one summer on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The beauty and cultural richness of the island gave her a new perspective on life and helped her heal after facing many unexpected challenges.
It was there that she realized her own inner strength, the strength of women all around her, and their shared connectivity. There she was captivated by breath-taking sunsets, luxurious sea-side resorts, island music with exotic foods, magical celebrations, and delightful new people. She was most inspired by the incredible women she encountered along the way. Collectively, these women and their shared bond became the muse and inspiration behind the brand.
Isla Aditi is a modern Swimwear Brand synonymous with beauty, luxury, and quality. These unique, architecturally influenced collections are fused with bold tropical colors, a vintage flare, and exquisite, travel inspired prints. These suits are proudly made in downtown Los Angeles with impeccable attention to detail. The seamless, reversible swimwear is specifically designed to flatter women with a gorgeous, sexy fit.
The name “Isla,” spanish for island, reflects the brand’s island inspiration and resort lifestyle. “Aditi” is a feminine name that captures the spirit of the brand, meaning boundless and free. Be adventurous, boldly inspired, and empowered to be boundless and free.
Update: Check out Isla Aditi’s website now to be selected for an exclusive VIP experience at the vintage 1920’s themed launch party in Sunny SoCal.
Phase 1: Brand Essence
The brand essence is based off of the meaning of the feminine Sanskrit name“Aditi,” unbound/free, and mighty. When women engage with the brand they would feel empowered and strong, and encouraged to be boundless and free, to break barriers and become their best selves. The brand essence is the driving force that creates a community of strong women who inspire each other to greatness.
The brand purpose of Isla Aditi is to inspire women to be boundless on their unique journeys. There is great symbolism and purpose behind the values of the brand. By providing unique, limited edition apparel, women are reminded to embrace their own individuality and uniqueness. The quality, long lasting products symbolize timeless inner strength. Luxury materials express the consumer’s singular beauty. Global sourcing and travel exemplifies our connectivity as women across the globe, and it speaks to our shared humanity and experiences that are beyond borders. As the brand strives to build a strong, supportive community of women, they lead the way in giving back to others.
Isla Aditi strives to create the highest quality swim and resort apparel and accessories with impeccable fit that will last for years to come with proper care.
Isla Aditi provides customers with exclusive pieces that are truly unique and special. Their prints and accessories are only available in small quantities, on limited edition basis. Their products can only be purchased directly from their site, and through select boutiques.
At the foundation of the design process, Isla Aditi’s design team searches for luxurious materials that enhance the exclusivity of the products offered to their customers.
Global sourcing takes the consumer on a journey connecting them to places around the world; some common, others exotic.
Isla Aditi believes in incorporating sustainability wherever possible in their production process, balancing sustainability with quality, luxury, and exclusivity. For example, the textile supplier for their swimwear was selected for it’s award winning green vision and production of high quality, luxury fabric using recycled polyamide, econyl, a 100% post consumer waste product, made primarily from fishing nets. They are committed to selecting partners who value worker’s rights, pay fair wages, who do not use child labor, promote safe working conditions, and practice green standards. They are committed to reducing textile waste by manufacturing high quality garments that do not have to be replaced often and by implementing a textile recycling program. To reduce our carbon emissions they choose to keep manufacturing and distribution local.
Local Manufacturing and Distribution
Keeping their manufacturing and distribution local allows them to reduce their carbon emissions. Local manufacturing means higher quality products. Isla Aditi’s design team visits their manufacturer on a regular basis to closely monitor production quality. With an open door policy, they see their commitment to the highest labor and safety standards.
Travel is a key pillar of Isla Aditi’s work and community. They travel to new locations every year to inspire new collections and deepen their connection to their mission. Travel enriches the brand as source for design inspiration, cultivating our human connectivity, and sharing their experiences with their community of women.
Passion & Inspiration
It is Jessica West’s belief that we should be passionate about everything we do, from the simplest organizational task, to the most delightful design. Every piece of what she does comes together to make her brand and community a success. The people behind the tasks make it work together and give life to the brand. They all have different skills and talents. Learn from each other and be passionately inspired. From the fiber producer all the way to the their consumer, everyone plays a vital role in the success of this brand.
Phase 2: Creating the Visual Brand Identity
Working from the brand story and strategy, the SpellBrand design team set about translating the vision and mission of the brand into a visual identity. Exploring different themes from travel to luxury to adventure and history, we arrived at a few different logo design directions that tried to stay away from the cliches of high end fashion brand marks.
One of the directions that Jessica liked and wanted to take forward had a modern looking icon made up of the initials I and A and an abstract horizon/sun flanked on both sides by the words Isla and Aditi. The icon was striking and quite different from fashion brand marks that you see.
[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”22″ align=”left”]As sourcing, color selections, and fittings were taking place, branding began. I selected SpellBrand to help me develop the brand. Their process and approach to branding was meaningful, based on research, and innovative. Pairing their love for fashion with their vast knowledge and expertise in branding for designers, I was confident they could help me achieve my goals. Their team was fabulous to work with, making the branding process seamless. They had a clear understanding of the vision behind the brand and created a timeless logo that truly represents the deeper meaning behind it all. – Jessica West[/mk_blockquote]
Phase 3: Inspiration Behind the Collection
The brand will be largely travel inspired, but for the first collection, the focus is on America, since it is home to the brand, highlighting a historic time period that resonates with the brand identity. It is inspired from geometric details found in art deco architectural elements from the 1920’s and 30’s. Here the focus is on art deco architecture found in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. The minimalistic elements, clean lines, balanced design, and geometric shapes set the design tone for the brand.
In this particular collection, the lines and cutouts in the pieces reflect the architectural inspirations. The colors used in the collection were also found frequently in the era, used in largely in fashion and art. The prints for the collection, which will be released later this summer, combine and interpret trends of the decade in art, fashion, architecture, and design.
This era is significant for American women, with the flapper as the muse, because it was a time when their voices were heard and they began to break free from societal norms and expectations of past eras. They began working in more white collar settings, affording them the ability to participate in consumerism, and they had more control in their family planning due to increased availability to birth control.
Attitudes of the women were largely reflected in fashion as women began wearing more makeup and jewelry, hemlines shortened, along with hairstyles, as they became modern women. In the 1920 women in the United States finally earned their right to vote, which was a key moment for women to begin building strength for future progress.
The feminine strength of the 1920’s speaks to the strength and empowerment of women within the brand essence, and it is a reminder of the modern barriers to equality that many women around the world still face today.
The 1920’s were a time for both prosperity and rebellion in society. Prohibition was in full swing, prosperity defined the era with increased consumerism and mass extravagance. Art shifted to become modern and abstract, blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined.
Literature explored previously taboo subjects such as sexuality (Women in Love by DH Lawrence), war (Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway), and personal pleasure/excess (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald) It’s a time when rules were broken, for better or worse, to try something new. The 1920’s are consistent with the spirit of the brand; sometimes traditions must changes, expectations challenged, and rules broken, for true progress to take place.
The Los Angeles Times was the first publication to use the term “It Girl” in May 1927, referring to actress Clara Bow and her role in the 1927 movie “It.” The term quickly became a reference to a woman’s sex appeal. The name fit for this first collection as it was a popular term to describe women decades ago that still resonates with modern women today, with shared California roots.
It also serves as a reminder that women should feel sexy, strong, and empowered to be an “it girl” whenever they encounter this brand.
Phase 4: The Journey from Sketch to Production
Jessica is not only an extraordinary fashion designer but a superbly talented writer. Here in her own words is her journey from sketching the designs to final production.
I began to sketch for this collection after a trip to Miami late last summer. In addition to the bold, bright, iconic art deco structures, I found my muse constantly surrounding me in many forms.
One afternoon, I stopped at a South Beach Cafe to relax with lunch, a new favorite cocktail, the Caipirinha, and the sound of a vibrant local band. This was an excellent venue for people watching. A few characteristics of the women who passed by stood out to me over and over again. They were beautiful and perfectly tanned, but more significantly, they appeared confident, strong, and sexy; comfortable in their own skin, and their Brazilian Bikinis.
Their presence triggered thoughts about the designs and what would be best for the brand, that would carry over from one bikini season to the next. It became clear that I needed to create a unique look that would bring out the spirit these inspirational women exuded, along with the women behind the brand I envisioned. I wanted the women who embraced this brand to always feel beautiful, strong, confident, and sexy.
When I came home, my energy and drive for this project blossomed. I sketched, and sketched again until I had too many options for the collection, and I quickly became overwhelmed with the possibilities. I turned to trend forecasts to help narrow the selection, and I started to consider which designs would be the most practical to manufacture. Finally, I narrowed the line down to five pieces that seemed the most practical and promising.
From here, I began to research fabric. In my quest for the perfect fabric, I wanted to balance luxury with sustainability. The value of quality stems from my childhood. My grandmother loved to shop, and my beloved shopping trips with her were where my first love affair with fashion began. She had a kind, outspoken, cheerful energy about her whenever we were shopping. One thing she always emphasized was the importance of quality. This valued stayed with me throughout my life, and it transitioned into the brand, becoming one of the first core values, and the first priority in sourcing.
I went to some showrooms downtown, but I struggled to find the right fabric. I began to wonder if I wanted even existed. In my research I came across an Italian company that produced textiles, aligning perfectly with my personal values to integrate sustainability and luxury that ultimately became the brand values. I read about their process and the materials.
The main fiber is recycled polyamide, known by its trade name Econyl, which comes from 100% postconsumer material, such as carpets, clothing, and fishing nets. This fiber is blended with lycra to construct a fabric with a soft, luxurious hand that is flattering and supportive for a perfect fit. Other features of this fabric are UV protection, resistance to chlorine and sunscreen, and with proper care excellent colorfastness and limited piling.
I contacted the company and they put me in touch with the US Sales rep, located in LA. We met and he showed me a few fabrics that might work well for this collection. As I held the swatches in my hand, I was filled with excitement because I knew without a doubt that one of beautiful samples would ideal for the brand for both the immediate and future collections. He sent me samples to test the fabric, and as I anticipated, it was perfect.
Pattern making was the next step in my journey. I understand the process, the terminology, and I took patternmaking classes in university, even earning straight A’s in all of my coursework. But the truth is this: Good patternmaking can’t be taught in a few classes. It is a skill acquired through years of experience as a pattern maker. Patternmaking is an artform. It requires the talent of an artist to successfully bring the designs to life through the their craft. I knew that the brand needed to find a talented and experienced pattern maker, to make this vision a reality, and so the search began.
The search for the right pattern maker proved more difficult that I anticipated. I was told no several times, and I ran away once. I was told the design was too complicated, not manufacturable, impossible to create. I felt defeated.
My next stop was to a refurbished downtown work/live space. I walked in feeling hopeful, but that instantly faded. My appointment was forgotten, fabrics were scattered, and pattern pieces flew in the air, as the pattern maker rummaged through her piles. My mind flashed all of the possible product development and production disasters that could possibly happen. My gut screamed no and run! I listened carefully to my inner voice and politely excused myself.
Through challenges, come success. My final appointment was downtown to meet with a woman named Sheila. Her company, U & I brand consulting helps emerging designers launch their brands, offering complete product development support. The tone with her was completely different than what I experienced so far. Her studio was on the 7th floor of a historic building, the windows were open and you could hear the chatter from the busy streets below; horns honking, people yelling, and dogs barking. Typical city life.
In her studio, there was a positive, calm, peaceful energy. She was so bright, warm, and welcoming. After going over the designs, she said her and her team could do it. I was shocked. She thoroughly explained how they would overcome the challenges in the design, assured me it was possible to make samples and said that they would be manufacturable. When I left my appointment with her, my confidence was restored, and once more I began to believe anything was possible, it was just a matter of figuring out how.
I went back to my computer and began to convert my sketches into a digital format. I put in measurements, fit and construction details, fabric specifications, and hardware sizes so that the pattern maker would have a blueprint of the design and a place to begin.
Pattern making began with Sheila’s pattern maker, Stephanie between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. Stephanie doesn’t miss a single detail, and she is truly the artist I was seeking. She is creative; incredibly smart and talented, with a beautiful solution to almost any problem.
While the patterns were being made, I was sourcing the materials Sheila’s team would need to make the samples. Besides fabric and elastics, one of the main components of these bikinis are the hardware.
I began visiting various showrooms to search of hardware, but I couldn’t find exactly what I envisioned. I met with a high caliber supplier, who understood my need for unique, high quality materials. He suggested custom parts, and told me that his vendor in China could work with small minimums. I went back to my computer to digitally design the metal hardware and write the specifications. At this time, Christmas was near.
The supplier warned me that the order had to be placed before our holidays, otherwise I would not get my order until after Chinese New Year. On the first set of hardware, I sent the digital files before the cutoff. Molds were cast and samples were made. When the samples arrived, they were beautiful.
Still, I wanted to perfect them further so changes to the molds were necessary. By this time, Chinese New Year had just begun, so the changes were not received until after the holiday, and samples did not arrive for one month after Chinese New Year ended. As a result, two months were lost in product development (One month for the holiday and one month to make new molds and samples). Lessons learned: Be mindful of customs that can affect global trade; plan accordingly.
During the holiday delay, samples were made and fittings were taking place. I will never forget the day Sheila reached out to tell me the first samples were ready. It was an exhilarating moment in time. We met at her studio a few days later where I saw the first samples on a model and held them. The moment was completely surreal and I was filled with a deep sense of pride and accomplishment as the concept for this product was coming to life.
I began working with Sheila to figure out which areas needed adjustment, measuring, and carefully going over construction details to perfect the swimwear. From there, three other fittings took place to make minor adjustments before we could finalize the bikinis. After one of our fittings, I asked her why she took on the brand. One thing she told me was that she knew the designs would be a challenge, but firmly believed it could be done, and she wanted to challenge her team beyond their comfort zone to accomplish more.
While sourcing materials, I was busy finalizing the colors for the collection. I researched trend colors for the upcoming season. My goal was to find colors on trend, that also tied back into the theme for the collection. It took a few samples and fittings to refine the colors, but in time the palette became clear. These colors will carry through this season and customers will see them used again in prints, so they can mix them with their solid pieces for several different looks.
Now that the product development phase for the first collection is complete, things are getting even more exciting! The editorial photoshoot will take place in the next month at a historic house in Hollywood. So, photographers and models who will best represent the brand are being carefully selected. Patterns have been finalized, tech packs and markers have been made.
Production fabric was ordered last week and is in transit to the manufacturer. Hardware pieces are being produced, and are almost ready to ship. Manufacturing will begin within the next two weeks in heart of downtown LA, with bikinis ready by August 1st!
Watch this space!
We are still working on helping this client launch their swimwear line through social media marketing and engagement. I will keep updating this page as and when the launch happens and then as sales take off.
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