British actress and model Elizabeth Hurley talks exclusively to Kat Slowe about her swimwear brand Elizabeth Hurley Beach, revealing why she would be interested in launching her own lingerie line and what fiancé Shane Warne thinks about her work.
Why did you launch a beachwear collection?
I decided to venture into Beachwear not only because I’ve always been obsessed with holiday clothes, but also because it’s an area where women, regardless of shape or size, can either look amazing or really get it wrong. I wanted to come up with some styles that make people look great and develop a resort collection which would make a woman feel fabulously sexy at any age.
How has the sector developed in the past six years?
More and more people are seeking the sun throughout the year and the days of women only buying swim for summer vacations are long gone. We have two collections, which we deliver in October and January.
Why did you choose to exhibit at the Mode City show?
Traditionally, we have sold mostly to the US and to exotic resorts worldwide. However, we would love to be more accessible to European buyers, hence exhibiting at Mode City. We have many loyal internet customers throughout Europe, all of whom would love to be able to buy from stores too.
You already do beachwear and bed linen. Would you consider lingerie?
Actually, I’d love to design a lingerie collection-it could definitely happen!
How has modelling helped you to design swimwear?
My experience of being a woman panicking about packing for vacation has helped me more. Packing a perfect capsule wardrobe, which fits and is flattering and comfortable is not something that happens by accident. Too often, we all lug unnecessary stuff and still find nothing works together and we feel uncoordinated. Good quality swim should last for years, and beautiful kaftans even longer. It’s all about making sure you have a great cover up for each piece of swim. It’s hopeless having the sexiest bikini in the world and no sarong or kaftan to slip over it.
How do you find inspiration?
I get inspired whenever I see a well dressed woman on vacation. I spend my holidays looking at how women dress and feel on the beach. I think travelling is very inspiring. India, in particular, can really fire the imagination as they use colour so beautifully and I also love their embroidery.
Australia is well known for its swimwear. Has your time there influenced your designs?
I’d like to sell more in Australia and we’re working on it. Swim is slightly sportier in Australia and kaftans and sarongs seem to be replaced by shorts and t shirts.
What is the brand’s USP?
We understand that most women are not tall and slim and bursting with confidence, and we create beachwear for women who want to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
How do you balance work with the brand with modelling and acting commitments?
It’s all a monstrously hard juggling act. No day is typical; I travel a great deal for business and personal reasons. Rule number one is to put my family first.
Do you have any plans for expansion in the coming year?
Beachwear is doing really well this year. We have a very loyal customer base and Summer 2013 is going to be our prettiest collection yet. We’ve just opened our first boutique in Marbella, which I am very excited about. The collection is very glamorous so it is a perfect place for us to have opened our store.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge in creating your own brand?
We learnt along the way and are still learning. I think we made a lot of typical beginner’s mistakes but things are smoother now. We have better relationships with the factories and manage our time better. My brand is not a licence – I own it myself. We have decided to make our collections smaller and better and to analyse our sales in a much more competent way. Fingers crossed, this will be our best season ever.
Has your celebrity status helped or hindered the brand?
It has helped enormously with brand recognition, but that’s where it stops. We succeed or fail on the quality of our product, the same as everyone else. We try to provide value and have developed great relationships with repeat customers. We now need to expand into new territories and that is our aim for this year.
What are the main themes of your SS13 collection?
Our collection has an exotic air, as I truly believe that on vacation women want to feel special. Our prints are beautiful and easy to wear; floating chiffons in Peacock, Serenissima and Blue Water all coordinate with great bikinis and one pieces and we also have plenty of animal print, whites and sexy metallic.
Have you any big new projects in mind for the next 12 months?
I enjoyed dipping my toe back into show business, last year, shooting Gossip Girl – it was the first time since having my son that I took this much time on a big project. The juggling act is not easy, but I may try it again if the right project came up.
To what extent do you still model your own pieces?
I’m gradually doing less of the modeling myself; we used a fabulous young Brazilian model this time to shoot the swim. I will always represent the brand visually in some way because we sell a lot to women both younger and older than me.
Who is your target consumer?
I design for women aged 18 months to infinity. I am as happy when sexy young women buy my bikinis as I am when fabulous seventy year olds look gorgeous in my kaftans. Women respond really well to the line because I’ve taken a lot of care to ensure that the swimwear fits really well and the cover-ups aren’t frumpy.
Your fiancé appeared at the recent launch of your bed linen – is he a big supporter?
Shane is wonderfully supportive. It is very new for him to have a partner that works, and he is coping with it very well. I help him with his projects too, and he has his own line called Spinners, which will be launching in Europe soon. His underwear is fantastic, so maybe you can talk to him about it?