Undrest. by the Sea: Local Angle to Swimwear

Maria Paz Navales is taking an old-school approach to her new swimwear line. Instead of sourcing overseas, she is producing her garments entirely in her 8,000-square-foot warehouse in East Los Angeles, where 10 seamstresses whip up triangle tops, bikini bottoms and one-piece suits.

“We have everything under one roof,” Navales said. “I believe in handcrafting garments. We are truly an atelier. I am touching and designing every single garment.”

Navales’ swimwear line is an offshoot of her lingerie line, Undrest, started three years after the designer moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to continue her studies at the Otis School of Art and Design.

Her goal was to create a lingerie line made of high-quality cotton fabric forundergarments that eschew the thong silhouette but adopt a Brazilian cut for comfort and fashion.

With lingerie up and running successfully, Navales branched out into swimwear with Undrest. by the Sea. “I decided to proceed with lingerie first because swim, I knew, was such a saturated market. And I wanted to see how the lingerie would take off. It did well. So I thought it would be a wise time to launch swim and introduce it to my current buyers,” she explained. “It was well-received because buyers knew my fit.”

For Spring/Summer 2010, Navales has two collections that take their names from places the designer has visited: the Cocirc;te d’Azur and Granada. Both collections are made from a Brazilian polyamide/spandex fabric.

Cocirc;te d’Azur has a muted color palette of dusty purples and light sea blues. Silhouettes are modern, with a mono-kini that has a triangle top with knitted elastic trim and mother of pearl buttons. The two-piece has a boy brief and a triangle top.

Granada comes in shades of melon and white, accented with vintage Mexican trim from the 1960s. The one-piece is completely backless with a Marilyn halter that extends from the navel to the shoulders. The two-piece has a triangle top and Brazilian-style bottom.

Bottoms wholesale for $30, tops are $34 and one-piece suits start at $64.

For more information, call (323) 262-5200. —Deborah Belgum