Arguably the fashion set's favorite swimwear brand — you're unlikely to come across a street style star's vacation Instagram snap in which her suits aren't featured — Lisa Marie Fernandez is inarguably a trendsetter in the category.
Her best-selling "Poppy" bikini, with its tie-front bandeau and high-waisted bottom, has become one of the most ubiquitous swimwear silhouettes across the market since she debuted it years ago, and an off-the-shoulder style has been gaining popularity recently. The next style Fernandez hopes will soon clutter your Instagram feed and the beaches of Tulum? The Bikini Twin Set. Yep, Fernandez has taken the '50s country club staple and translated it for swim.
The designer, who produces everything in the U.S., says she was thinking of a way to update her most popular style. "I said, why don't we do a little twinset because a lot of women don’t like to show their arms or they get too much sun... you’re sitting at a pool somewhere or it gets chilly at the end of the day. Or not and you just want to go swimming in it — it’s the same exact material [as the bikini]."
The set includes a bikini top, a bottom and a matching cropped cardigan and are all sold together in one of Fernandez's signature innovative fabrics (which include swimmable seersucker, denim and suede). Each set will cost you $570 to $615 (a Poppy bikini set on its own is around $400), but Fernandez feels the cardigan has added value. "The value is, I would take this and wear it over a little slip dress or a little tank dress or tank top," she says. "You’d wear that in New York like a little cardigan." Much of the cardigan's appeal, she says, has to do with the weight of the fabric. "It has to be a certain weight so that it feels like a cardigan; it can’t just be a flyaway piece of Lycra."
While some might see the bikini twinset as a hard sell, she says buyers have been "super into it," and indeed, it will soon be sold at Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion, Shopbop, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys. Right now, you can get it on Fernandez's own e-commerce site.
As many designers are now doing, she deliberately chose not to release her spring 2016 look book until her designs were set to hit stores. It was a major reversal: in 2014, Fernandez says she begged Dirk Standen to feature the line on Style.com (R.I.P.) even though the site did not not review swim lines. She argued that with her expansion into activewear and clothing (poolside-appropriate skirts and dresses), she deserved to be featured. Nicole Phelps wrote a review but then Fernandez, frustrated by knockoffs, started to change her mind about posting images six months in advance. "I said, I don't know if it's such a good idea we’re putting these things on because we're just fueling this [knockoffs issue]." So last season she put an embargo on online images and stopped doing Moda Operandi trunk shows, even though she made money from them. "We just need to stop seeing so many clothes so far in advance and think about the clothes we want to see and buy now."
Is Fernandez worried brands might knock off her new twinset for future seasons? "I'm sure everyone will have it," she said sarcastically. "No, not everyone," she continued. "Actually, Chanel should have done this. I don't know why they haven't." They still could, I pointed out, as the brand has been accused of copying in the past. But, somewhat surprisingly, Fernandez says she wouldn't mind. "It would be nice if it had the Cs. I'd be into it."
See more bikini twinsets and the full spring 2016 look book below.