Francesca Aiello of Frankies Bikinis on disrupting the swimwear norms
Celebrity-adored swimsuit brand, Frankies Bikini has been making waves, not only because it is beloved by Hailey Baldwin, Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner, but because this six-year old brand was founded by Francesca Aiello while she was still in high school at the age of 17, because she couldn’t find swimwear that fitted her.
Frankies Bikini has hit a cord with swimwear buyers for offering not only quality bikinis and swimsuits, but also for its fashion-forward approach by working more like a fashion label offering new pieces not just for the traditional resort and spring, but also throughout the year with its capsule collection drops.
It is also the choice, you can get a Frankies Bikini in nearly every colour imaginable, as well as various bottom coverage - classic, booty, cheeky and skimpy, and the versatility of the designs from string bikinis to knotted front detail and daring cut-out one pieces means that this is brand that bridges the gap between swimwear and apparel, meaning that Frankies is about “offering more bang for your buck - you get to wear it to the beach as well as wear it as an outfit,” explains Aiello.
FashionUnited met up with young entrepreneur and founder Francesca Aiello at the press preview of her spring/summer 2019 collection in London, where during a walk-through of the collection, we found out more about the inspiration behind her successful brand, why she wanted to design swimwear, the addition of her new apparel brand, Aiello, and who her dream celebrity collaboration would be with.
Five Minutes With…Francesca Aiello founder of Frankies Bikinis
What made you decide to start a swimwear line?
Francesca Aiello: “I’m from Malibu so growing up on the beach I lived in swimwear, but I’ve always been very picky about my bikinis, so my mom suggested I get my suits custom-made, as there wasn’t what I wanted on the market.”
How did Instagram kickstart your brand exposure?
“It was around the same time that Instagram was just starting, so I created a page for myself as well as these bikini’s that I was making, not knowing that I was creating a company at the time, and no one really knew that you could use social media as a business tool because it was all so new and I remember sitting there one day and my thumbs were hurting for replying back to strangers wanting to know more about my suits.
“Then two months later model Candice Swanepoel reached out to us for bikinis, so we sent her some, and she did a post for us, nowadays that would cost an arm and a leg, and that’s kind of how our journey started.”
Is social media still an important marketing tool?
“Definitely, it is a great way for us to communicate with our customers and to be really involved. I think with me being the face of the brand, it is something other companies don’t have, our customers can feel connected with me through social media - I think it makes it easier to shop when the owner is saying yes I think this is going to fit you or suggesting styles for different bodies.”
What makes Frankies Bikinis special?
“Frankies is always looking at strong trends in high fashion and incorporating them into our swimwear designs, which a lot of swimwear brands don’t do. We are also constantly dropping capsule collections throughout the year, in March, April, May and July, whereas traditional swimwear brands just stick to resort and spring, which ends up being super boring.
“I know that me as a customer, when I’m shopping I always just click on new arrivals, I can literally go on my favourite site once a week to see what’s new, and that should be offered in swim as well, which it hasn’t been before. I just want to keep offering fashionable styles so no-one gets bored at what we are doing.”
What’s the inspiration behind the new ‘Drift’ spring/summer 2019 collection?
“It’s based on the idea that the new ‘it’ girl doesn’t have just one style - she can drift from ultra sporty tomboy to the flirty girl-next-door - all with the change of her bikini. It is why we have flirty ruffles and ditsy floral prints as well as daring cuts and higher rise bottoms.
“I love that the floral prints can be styled with sneakers to make it a little more boyish and I’m really excited about the ruffle styled top, the Mackenzie, as I’ve been feeling a little bit more girlie lately.”
What’s one of Frankies Bikinis signature styles?
“I’d have to say the Greer, as it is one of our best sellers, as it is good for girls who are flat chested as well as girls who are full chested. It has a super supportive top with adjustability and the bottoms are seamless, so they are so flattering on everyone.
“Frankies is about offering more bang for your buck - you get to wear it to the beach as well as wear it as an outfit. Every bikini girls buy from us they want to wear as a bra or a top, I’m always seeing my friends wearing underneath the shirt or just wearing our with jeans if it is warm out.”
Is there any plans to expand the line from just swimwear?
“We just launched our ready-to-wear sister brand, Aiello, which is my last name, as basically over the years our customers have reached out looking for ways to style their bathing suits as they saw that I was wearing mine as outfits and all my girlfriends do too, so we wanted to offer them pants, sweatshirts and all types of products to complete their look.”
Your quite vocal on social media about empowering and uplifting women with your designs - why is this important?
“I think it is important to showcase our suits on all different kinds of bodies, it is the reason why I started Frankies Bikinis as I was looking for smaller bottoms and I was at the beach and I noticed a woman who had a completely different body shape than mine in a cheekier bathing suit bottom and I couldn’t get over how good her butt looked in it, and over time I kept seeing more and more women in smaller bottoms with totally different body styles and they all looked amazing - so I think it is important that when I’m designing to keep all different bodies in mind and to make sure that is shown online, to make sure everyone feels included.
“We offer suits for the daring girl, the tomboy and girlie girl, it is really important for me to make sure we offer suits to so many different women."
How is the UK expansion going?
“We are just starting to expand in the UK, so it is super new to us, but I do think that our product is something that isn’t here, and when I’m looking at the UK girls on Instagram and even by just walking around on the streets of London, I can totally see them relating to our customer in America.
“We are already in Selfridges and Harrods, as well as online on our website. We are just looking to get well known here in the UK, from where we are from you can see our bikinis and they are very recognisable based on the design and I kind of what that to be the case wherever we go.”
As your line is celeb-adored would you ever do a celebrity collaboration?
“Yes, absolutely. All of the ‘it’ girls and the Victoria Secret models have great style, and it is always exciting to see them wearing Frankies and how they are wearing them, so it is definitely something we are open to.
“I love Elsa Hosk’s style, she is a Victoria Secret model, to be honest any of those girls, but she has really great style.”
Frankies Bikinis is sold in Selfridges, Harrods and Asos in the UK, and in the US, in Revolve, Diane's Beachwear, Free People, and Kith.
Images: courtesy of Frankies Bikinis