The Montauk Wave in Bikinis
By Mara Certic
As Montauk continues to become more and more popular, many fear that the increasing number of out-of-town businesses threatens the hamlet’s traditional way of life. But some young people are instead trying to find ways to use that popularity to launch their dream careers.
Montauk native Ariana Jasuta, 25, kind of began designing bikinis on a whim.
“It was the end of the summer 2013 and I’d always been interested in sewing and designing but I never really made it come to life,” she said.
Ms. Jasuta remembered hearing that a friend of hers from Hawaii had made her own bikinis and thought she’d give it a shot. She bought herself some fabric, took out her favorite bikinis and got to work picking and choosing her favorite details of each one, “melded them together,” she said, and cut out her pattern.
“And then I asked my mom to sew it for me,” she said, laughing. That bikini, which she named after her hometown, became the first of many she would design for her new company which she launched last year, Kaileigh Swimwear.
With all things, trends come and go, and that certainly rings true for bikinis. Throughout the almost seven decades of the bikini, beachgoers have watched popular styles shift from high-waisted to low-slung to high-thighed again and again. This year, Ms. Jasuta said, that trend is “cheeky.” The cheeky bathing suit bottom is slightly smaller than typical bathing suit bottoms of late, but not necessarily as revealing as the high-cut thongs made popular in Rio de Janeiro; it’s just a little cheekier, if you will.
Ms. Jasuta noticed that all of the bikinis both she and her friends were buying were from the West Coast.
“All these brands are coming from California and Hawaii because they have that beach lifestyle,” she said in Montauk recently.
“And I thought, well Montauk has that beach lifestyle and it’s such a hot button right now, I thought, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I ride the Montauk wave?”
Encouragement from friends and a long winter at home in Montauk drove Ms. Jasuta to write up a business plan and dive headfirst into the world of swimwear design.
After months of trial and error, she found a source for high quality fabric from Italy, got in touch with a sample maker she liked in California and in November of 2014 launched her full line of bikinis.
“Through research, I found that the best bikinis were made in California and Bali,” she said. “I couldn’t afford the plane ticket to Bali, and thought “Made in the USA” was really pretty sick,” she added.
This year’s line has four different styles (four tops and bottoms, that is): Montauk, Atlantic, Trixie and Princess, all designed with comfort, style and beach-activities in mind.
“I keep the athletic surfer girl in mind when designing but also the more trendy styles as well,” she said, mentioning that her Atlantic top is particularly sturdy and stable, and definitely comfortable enough to surf in.
“The premise is that they’re all reversible,” she explained. “One side is a print, and the other is a corresponding solid.”
“I’m starting out small and local,” she said, adding that for now she’s selling just online and hopes to sell at a few East End retailers this summer.
“And right now I’m working on 2016. I’m hoping that’ll be more of a break out year,” she said.
“And I’m trying to make it more that just bikinis, I’d like to have it be a lifestyle brand,” she said.