Against all odds, Miami-based swimwear label Luli Fama will receive the 2016 Designer of the Year award at Mode City this month. Many doubted the brand would last a season, but after 13 years in the industry, co-founders Lourdes and Augusto Hanimian have proved them wrong, creating a luxury line that is stocked in over 600 locations and is favoured by A-list celebrities for its modern shapes and unique prints. Here, they discuss their win.

Mode City will honour Miami-based swimwear label Luli Fama with the title of Paris Capitale de la Création Designer of the Year when it opens its doors in Lyon this month.

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Trade show organisers will recognise the brand’s work in creating unique swimwear designs with modern shapes, bright colours and original prints. It will also praise the brand for its outstanding growth in overseas sales over the last 13 years.

Luli Fama was founded in Miami by Cuban-born, Miami-raised Lourdes (Luli) Hanimian and her Argentinean brother in-law Augusto Hanimian.

The pair met in 1990 whilst working on Augusto’s aunt’s swimwear line. Together, they gained practical experience in the fashion and swimwear industry and eventually launched a small line called Cover Style. Then, in 2003, Luli Fama was born.

The business was established at a time when Chinese manufacturing was rife and fashion brands were competing to offer the lowest price.

But this market didn’t appeal to Luli and Augusto, and, ignoring industry advice, they created a designer brand that could perform commercially.

“Everybody thought we were crazy and nobody believed that we could last a season. Little did they know that we would have come this far,” the designers tell Lingerie Insight.

“At our first showing, one of the best swimwear chains, Everything but Water, gave us a chance and before we knew it, magazines like Sports Illustrated fell in love with the line and, through their editorials, we became known
very quickly.”

Designed and manufactured in Miami, Luli Fama has become known universally for its vibrant bikinis, swimsuits and cover-ups that incorporate an electric mix of bright hues and bold patterns.

The brand is inspired by Luli’s Cuban roots and the beaches of Miami, where she grew up.

It uses blues and greens from the ocean, sparking gold from the stars and the beauty of the natural world to create its collections.

The brand works in collaboration with numerous artists every season to create exclusive prints with floral, aquatic, tribal, and tie-dye themes.

Augusto’s Latino background is also apparent in Luli Fama’s revealing silhouettes and intense motifs.

“We love to create pieces that speak from the hanger. So our consumer knows it’s Luli Fama before looking at the label. I think this is what sets us apart from other brands,” explains Luli.

Augusto agrees: “We have a very recognisable look. We have a brand DNA that we are very loyal to. We work with passion and we try to get out the best swimsuit that we can.”

Commenting on being honoured with the title of Designer of the Year, Augusto says: “After over 25 years of work in industry, getting and award outside of our own market makes me feel extremely happy. It feels like a lifetime achievement award.”

“It will add another layer of recognition to the brand, especially outside the US. It will place us in the spotlight, at least for a season. After all, this is fashion!,” he adds, modestly.

Luli also believes the award will open up new opportunities for growth in Europe.

Today, 40% of the brand’s sales are made internationally, with products available in 600 stockists in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and South America.

And Luli Fama has ambitious plans to introduce the business to other markets, including the UK.

“We are aiming for growth through the internationalisation of the brand. We are planning to expand in the markets that we have become successful in and to launch in new ones,” says Augusto.

“The UK is a strategic market for us; we know it is one of the leading economies in Europe and because of language we feel close. We are actively exploring for the best partnership to fully develop in the UK market.”

Luli Fama will present an SS17 collection called Wild Heart at Mode City this month.

“As the name describes it, the line is wild,” says Luli. “Our objective was to try to surprise ourselves during the creative process, and this time we were more than successful.

“Our inspiration came from our ability to express ourselves freely through our designs and prints. Wild tie-dyes help bring an explosion of colours, which are boundless.”

Luli Fama has also incorporated on-trend macramé and crochet into its hand-crafted pieces, as well as asymmetrical shapes.

“By incorporating print combinations and luxurious embellishments we aim to dare the imagination,” explains Luli.

Commenting on the future of the swimwear market, Augusto says the possibilities for creative innovation are endless.

“Technology has made it easier for anybody to access the market, which means there is a lot of competition, but this is very healthy. I think there is no formula for improvement and each brand has to find its own way.

Luli agrees: “There is tonnes of competition, so we need to always make sure we are putting our absolute best out there. There is plenty of room from growth and change.”

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