Banshee Swim Enters the Industry Screaming a Message of Acceptance and Transparency
Growing up in Washington state, Amanda Fronckowiak always sewed clothes, aspiring to become a designer, but she didn’t know on what category she wanted to focus. Fronckowiak might not have envisioned a swimwear-design future, but that changed during an internship in California prior to her graduation from Central Washington University.
“All I did every single day was go to the beach as soon as I could leave my internship. I never realized the whole swimwear culture,” she said. “I saw that people have a swimsuit for every day of the week and that there are different types, such as luxury swimwear—I had no idea what luxury swimwear was. Then I found out, and that is when I started sewing my own swimsuits.”
It was at this moment that Fronckowiak decided to enter the swimwear category, revealing that she became “obsessed” with it and the California swim culture. Following her graduation in 2017, she relocated to Los Angeles yet soon discovered that climbing through the fashion ranks was not only challenging but near impossible. She was unable to find a job that afforded a living wage, never mind try to establish her own swimwear brand as she had originally planned.
“I was going to come down, gain more fashion experience and by the time I was 30 I wanted to start it,” she said. “I got down here and was working for free. Whenever I did get paid jobs in fashion it was severely underpaid, as most people in the fashion industry know.”
As she landed day jobs within the local fashion industry, working in different categories from basics to denim, learning the business ropes and cutting her teeth as a young designer, Fronckowiak still needed money to live. She decided to moonlight at an adult-entertainment venue as an exotic dancer. Eventually, she secured a role as an assistant designer with the Irvine, Calif., swimwear brand L*Space—her dream job. While this job was a perfect fit for Fronckowiak’s skill set, she still wanted to create her dream brand. Banshee Swim was born in 2019 with its first suit shipped in February 2020.
“I wanted my creative freedom again instead of designing for the masses. I wanted to do Banshee, so I fully dedicated all of my time to creating it,” she said. “It all happened kind of quickly. I had my first selling season this past Spring. I was able to ship my first suit in February.”
This was the time when COVID-19 began to spread throughout the United States, a threat for any business owner. While Fronckowiak was alarmed by the devastation that was playing out, she wisely conserved her financial resources and relied on the gritty determination that had brought her to this point.
“When COVID-19 came so quickly, I was really scared. I was super frugal and didn’t put any money toward advertising, holding onto all of my dollars because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said. “Then I just let it rip and put faith in my company, paying for ads, and it all started to pay off.”
Available in sizes S–L, with separates retailing for $70–$90 and one-pieces for $180, Banshee Swim can be found at bansheeswim.co. Based upon her life in Los Angeles, the city’s swim and beach culture, and her time working in adult entertainment, Fronckowiak created Banshee Swim as an unapologetic approach to swimwear that relies on sheer tops and edgy, playful cuts that celebrate the people who wear them.
“It’s the attitude and the feel that I always wanted for my swimwear,” she said. “I wanted it to be the anti-swimwear brand. I want to do things that people say can’t be done: ‘You can’t have see-through swimwear,’ ‘You can’t do this.’ And I am like, why the f--- not?”
Despite Banshee Swim’s commitment to building a community of banshees who are unconcerned with labels, trends, limitations and society’s standards of who people should be, Fronckowiak cares deeply about mindful, responsible manufacturing. With her manufacturing partner, the female-owned BGoD Design Studio, Fronckowiak has committed to ethical swimsuit making that affords fair wages in a comfortable environment with a few sewers located in a space only 15 minutes from where she lives in Los Angeles.
“It’s a mom-and-pop-run workshop. I work very closely with them,” she said. “They are not all the way out in China, it’s not a giant warehouse, and we’re saving all this energy. I am able to go and see the product being made.”
As a mindfully manufactured line, Banshee also relies on the more ecologically sound Econyl fabric, which is comprised of recycled nylon that is sourced from landfill and ocean waste. Fronckowiak is committed to sustainability right down to her packaging, which includes compostable garment bags and plant-based tape. In an effort to promote transparency—a priority for Fronckowiak—she also advises her banshees to wash their swimwear using a Guppy Friend, the washing bag that combats microplastic waste resulting from laundering apparel made from synthetic textiles.
By forging her own path, Fronckowiak is hopeful to work toward a better fashion industry. While she believes in transparency for her customers, she encourages professionals within the fashion industry to also develop their own styles rather than engaging in a culture of taking ideas from other brands.
“That whole rip-off culture needs to stop. It’s preventing us from growing,” she said. “Just be a little more passionate about it. Slow it down and make it count.”