She might only be 18, but Gigi Caruso is clearly sophisticated beyond her years. I’ve gone to enough Justin Bieber concerts (don’t judge me!) to know that most teenagers don’t dress – let alone have the capability to imagine – such beautiful designs. What’s even more impressive is that Gigi’s line – Gigi C – is actually original. You don’t feel like you’ve seen her designs before. Literally every piece stands out. The brand includes both swim and activewear, which shows that she has her pulse on both function and fashion (though the tan lines for the swimwear might be a bit rough!). Carbon38 (sorry Bandier…) is my go-to for quality brands so it says a lot that they gave Gigi C their stamp of approval… and for very good reason. Here’s to hoping Gigi comes out with a RTW line because I’m sure it would be fantastic! I had the chance to ask her a few questions to find out more about the precocious teenager’s line, which you can shop here.
With so many product lines out there it’s rare to see anything that’s unique..your line really stands out! Can you explain your design process?
Creating the collections is the most exciting part of the process for me. When we launched the line originally we drew most of our inspo from 90’s editorial imagery. My mom has a collection of vintage swimwear shots, as she was a swimwear model during that time. As the line has evolved we now utilize some inspiration from newer trends. We pull from what we’re seeing on social media and in magazines but we always mix it with classic images to be true to our brand. Now that we have a few seasons developed it’s amazing to see how our vision has come to life and stayed true to the look we had in mind. Clean lines, a focus on black and white with architectural details and styles that make an impact but are still comfortable to wear.
Do you have any background in fashion? How did you know how to go about bringing your vision to life?
While I don’t have training in design, growing up in Southern California I live in swimwear all summer long and I had the hardest time finding bathing suits that looked really fresh but would be comfortable and functional. I don’t just lay down and sunbathe, so I had a need for a really amazing suit that I could move in and even waterski or jet ski in. My mom, Tina Caruso, has some background in fashion both as a model and as a designer. She previously owned a young girls clothing brand. Together we make the best team, it’s a great mix of her classic and sophisticated taste level and my eye for current trends.
Can you tell us about your fabrics?
When we started the line we wanted to make sure our swim was different from what is already on the market, and one way we really did that is with our fabric. The fabric that’s come to really define the collection is our scuba, it’s a four-way stretch, water-resistant, spacer fabric with a really slick hand. It lends itself perfectly to our laser cutting and athletic seaming, but what I love about it the most is how it sculpts the body.
Can you tell us about some trends in the swim and activewear space that you’re predicting?
While we always try to stay current we do try to stay away from quick trends in favor of classics that will last longer in our customer’s wardrobe. One thing we focus on is staying true to the brand identity over all else, while feminine ruffles are definitely having a real moment across apparel and swim- it’s not on brand for us. Other styles though, like bike shorts and high cut legs, work really well with our brand and we have incorporated them into our 2019 assortment. As we do get a lot of the ideas for our styles from the 90’s it works really well with what is happening right now in fashion, so we try to pick and choose classic styles to work with, that feel relatable today.
How did you end up connecting with Carbon38?
Over the summer my mom and I met the CMO of Carbon38 at an event, we instantly hit it off. Carbon has such a great aesthetic and it really resonates with us. Their assortment is clean and functional, but still sexy and that’s really in line with what we are striving for with Gigi C. Our relationship started with some of our core swim styles and developed into a conversation about collaborating to develop activewear styles to match the swim. We hadn’t really considered getting into a new category yet, but taking Carbon’s lead it has been a great move for our business and it feels like a natural progression of the brand.
Can you share any insight on what’s to come for your line?
Looking forward to 2019 we have a lot of work to do, and I couldn’t be more excited. We are going to continue to build our activewear assortment and grow our existing swimwear collection. In July of this year we had our first runway show in Miami, and it was a great way to make an impactful launch into wholesale. As spring 2019 gets closer we are shipping more and more retailers, like Revolve, Carbon38, FreePeople and some smaller boutiques. It’s been so satisfying to see the brand on their websites and in their stores. When we launched activewear i got to see that collection in the Carbon38 store in Palisades Village, and it was a dream come true. There was a woman shopping there who needed help picking out some pieces, I loved interacting with her and walking her through the line. Having that direct interaction with customers is so important, it’s a great way to get ideas and hear valuable feedback. I hope we find ways to continue to do that as the brand continues.