Regardless of whether your a fashion fanatic or swimwear stalker, I suspect you’ve heard of Heidi Klein. Since launching in 2002, the label has become something of a one-stop-shop for chic holiday essentials for women, men and children with stockists the world over and famously fabulous fans including Olivia Palermo as well as legions of non famous but no doubt equally fabulous wearers. When Co-Founders, Heidi Gosman and Penny Klein decided to set up their first boutique the frustration of trying put together a great holiday wardrobe outside of the usual summer months, they clearly tapped into an angst shared by many. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend an intimate presentation of their SS14 and exclusive Jumby Bay collection (available here now) at the divine London Rosewood hotel, and of course, have a good old chat with the designers. So, without further ado, here’s my interview with one half of the duo behind the brand and fellow Breton stripe aficionado, Heidi Gosman.
LPA: In just over a decade, you’ve built one of the most coveted and successful beachwear brands in the world. Of course, there’s no such thing as a “secret to success”, but what do you feel it is about the heidi klein brand that appeals to such a wide range of consumers?
HG: We are constantly working with our customers to find out what works for them, what doesn’t, what’s missing in the range, etc. Having the two stores in London allows us to talk directly to our customers and feedback with a collection that’s in direct accordance to demand.
LPA: Today, heidi klein has standalone boutiques in two of the most prestigious areas of London, as well as a vast array of high profile stockists all over the world. Tell me a little bit about your professional journey to get to this point…
HG: We wanted our first boutique to open in an up-and-coming area, which was Notting Hill at the time. Then our clients told us they wanted a boutique closer to Chelsea, so we opened another there. The stockists started to approach us first. Barneys in NYC 2 years after we first launched the line, then the other majors followed. We are delighted to be in such great high profile stockists.
LPA: I’ve interviewed many different clothing designers and am always fascinated to hear about the creative process and methods that go into dreaming up their seasonal collections and then translating those ideas into saleable products. Is the process very different with beachwear do you think? How do you get your take your collections from mood board to store?
HG: I think the process is probably the same, you start with your inspiration, which is a print, colour, shape … it’s then a long, long process from there. Lots of deadlines, fittings, factory visits and late nights!
LPA: Besides heidi klein swimwear for women, you also stock a selection of other brands catering to men and children. What prompted this decision? And could you ever see yourselves either stocking other women’s swimwear brands or starting to design men’s and children’s swimwear?
HG: We actually started the business only selling other swimwear brands and accessories. The heidi klein brand started when we couldn’t find what customers were asking for, and that was chic, high end swimwear available all year round. We therefore noticed a gap in the market and went from there. We are also planning to launch a children’s swimwear line in 2015.
LPA: Tell me a little about your collaboration with Jumby Bay. How did it come about? And in what ways does the nine piece collection reflect your experiences of the island?
HG: We were thrilled that Jumby Bay approached us to host our photo shoot for this year’s collection. Jumby Bay is a stunning private island surrounded by the most beautiful blue water, which I tried to capture in the print. You go everywhere by bike or golf cart, it’s a very laid back place and so I wanted to reflect this in the styles I designed. Easy – yet super chic pieces.
LPA: What are your ultimate holiday destinations and are there particular pieces you would wear there?
HG: Some of my ideal holiday destinations are Portofino, Ibiza and Mustique. I always pack an easy, oversized shirt, great versatile sandals, a few maxi dresses for the evening, a floppy hat and lots of mix and match bikinis.
LPA: Aside from creating gorgeous beachwear, you are both fundamentally savvy businesswomen who have built up a global brand. Do you come from a business background? And what advice would you give to someone hoping or planning to launch their own business?
HG: Yes I came from a business background, but have always loved being creative. Best advise to launch business:
- Research, research and research!
- Great business partner
- Always seek out and recruit brilliant people
LPA: Talk me through a typical day in the heidi klein office…
HG: There is no typical day, that’s what makes my job so much fun. I’m either visiting a factory, in the showroom for meetings, at a press event or in the studio. My days are constantly changing.
LPA: What is your ultimate aim for the heidi klein the brand?
HG: To gift customers with a renewed brand of confidence that allows them to look and feel gorgeous on holiday.
Shop the Heidi Klein Jumby Bay collection here
Love Ella. X