Mention swimwear and Americans are going to think of California, Miami, or maybe Florida. Not New York. But Graffinis, a hip, young swimwear company, is taking the rather grittier Big Apple for its inspiration, and making its mark on the sunnier West Coast.
Founded by designer Paul Cartelli in 2007, Graffinis has found fashion-conscious sun lovers responding to its unique marriage of the “urban edge” of New York with swim fashion.
“When most people think of swimwear, they don’t necessarily think of NY… it was a challenge at first,” says Cartelli.
“The energy in NY… all the clichés you hear about, and the energy, and the vibe, there’s some truth to it, and you really can feed off of it. Being here is inspirational.”
“There is so much to feed off of energy wise, and artistic-wise, that right now,” Cartelli adds, “NY is it” for his current inspiration.
Print and graphics driven (a big swimwear trend leading into 2012), Cartelli uses digital photography to capture the scenes and textures of New York, where the company is based, effectively letting the colors of the city dictate the colors of Graffinis’ collections.
The photographs are then enlarged, and played with, so that they work with the body once they are converted to placement prints, and printed on nylon tricot knit (sheen or matt finish) – Graffinis most popular fabric.
“We don’t operate on a season to season basis,” says Cartelli. Instead, Graffinis creates new swimwear pieces throughout the year (sometimes as limited editions), as it finds itself inspired by the surroundings or by changes in the culture. For example, Graffinis recently incorporated Quick Response codes in its print design. The company used an enlarged QR code, along with a smaller one – “strategically placed” – that could be read by a mobile device. Using the QR code was “an observation about what you see in NY on a day to day basis,” says Cartelli.
Another observation that found its way onto a Graffinis limited edition was a street scene with a sidewalk drawing of artist Ellis Gallagher. In this case the drawing was typically New York: a fire hydrant and barrier posts, along with the artist’s signature.
The result is a rich and highly colorful, but hipper, edgier swimwear. And the somewhat abstract scenes of New York – focusing in on neon lighting, overlapping graffiti, and other details – have a special appeal in LA and Miami, where Graffinis is most popular.
For more visit graffinis.com.