As of Thursday, July 23, 2020
While discussing the past seven months of extraordinary change in the fashion industry, Rod Beattie relays his gratitude for having a bit of luck. In January, he and a design associate traveled to Brazil before global travel restrictions were implemented due to COVID-19, allowing him to gain a fresh design perspective. By the time shutdowns and stay-at-home orders were being implemented in the United States, his Bleu Rod Beattie Resort 2021 collection was two-thirds complete. Once sequestered at home, he reflected on his main source of inspiration over the last 35 years—the diverse, confident American woman—that had shaped his business.
“Our muse is constantly this very diverse customer, this American woman who is confident and modern and independent,” he said. “[The collection] was reflective on the last 35 years—something old and something new, something borrowed and something bleu.”
While Beattie continues to design from a classic standpoint, he feels that the current trend toward body positivity and diversity in fashion aligns with his brand’s swim-fashion formula. He sees a customer who is more receptive to a fluid design approach that doesn’t categorize by age, shape or size—those who have inspired his label’s campaign of “Any age. Any size. Any woman.”
“We are getting an incredible response from our customers. Fashion has changed dramatically in a short period of time,” he said. “We have a very diverse range of customers. From an age perspective, I can’t pinpoint it and say, ‘Oh, our customer is 25 to 55’ because the other day one of my friends in the business called to tell me that her 17-year-old daughter wanted one of our suits.”
From Resort 2021’s one-piece cut with a V-neck, flutter sleeves and a belted waist in bright, hot-hued palm fronds to a high-waisted two-piece in large black-and-white polka dots, Beattie is evolving on-trend yet maintaining a classic approach. Customers can see the American woman Beattie cites as his muse, but they will also notice how he was inspired by his recent trip and an industry mood that is shifting toward greater body positivity with size diversity.
“We appeal to a really broad customer range and figure type. We present a very diverse silhouette assortment. It’s not only that we do little string bikinis, we do string bikinis for the more-covered-up conservative,” he said. “Our goal is always to expect something beautiful. Our focus is to create a forward-fashion approach but also something our customer can relate to.”
One component of the brand’s design, for which Bleu Rod Beattie is known, is the fit of the suits. While a style may shift a bit with current trends or modern colors are incorporated, Beattie always relies on a fit formula that delivers for his customer.
“There are always a lot of silhouettes for the line that continue forward because they are successful. But we always try to create new, updated, modern silhouettes that appeal to our customer,” he said. “One of the things that we receive constant feedback on from customers and retailers is that we have a great fit. We take that base and build on it. My job and our design team’s job is to create some more-interesting updated silhouettes.”
While Bleu Rod Beattie runs in sizes 4–14, the extended Bleu Woman runs in 16–22. Designs for the Bleu Woman line are chosen from Bleu Rod Beattie, meaning that customers who require extended sizing don’t have to compromise on style.
“Beauty does not have one face. The future is about inclusion and diversity. That is what is driving us forward from a design standpoint,” Beattie explained. “The multiple faces of beauty—that is what we are focusing on. Our customer really likes that. We shot a lot of real women and posted them on our website. And we got a fast response from real women, not models.”
Available through bleurodbeattie.com, the collection is also sold by boutiques, online retailers and larger operations including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. Retail price points range from $99 to $130 for a one-piece, $90 for underwire bra tops and $59 for bottoms.
Moving forward, Beattie envisions the future of swim fashion at Bleu Rod Beattie as more responsible and, potentially, sustainable. Amid the uncertainty of this time, he envisions progress through change.
“We are going to have to navigate rough waters going forward because it’s changing so quickly and so fast. What is ahead is unknown. I believe we are trying to reinvent and reimagine how we are going to move forward. We are going to do it in a different way. Maybe the change is going to be good,” he said. “Everything is going to slow down a little bit, and we’ll focus the brand a bit more and not overdesign, overdevelop or make too much product.”