DREAMING OF RIO
From Rio With Love, Bromelia Shares Its Vibrancy in Colorful Swimwear
Setting out with a dream of living as an American abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Lauren Quinn, an Angeleno, didn’t intend on breaking into the swimwear business. After moving to the Brazilian city in 2015, she had envisioned opening a bed and breakfast in the vibrant region known for its arts, food, music and—of course—exquisite beaches.
“I went to South America the year before by myself, and there is something about Brazil that took me,” she said. “It’s so intense that everything is so much more vibrant—from emotions to senses to food.”
To promote the energy of Brazil, Quinn founded Bromelia Swimwear, launching the first collection in 2018. As the creative director of the company, Quinn dedicated her business to an ethical model by employing underrepresented groups, offering fair pay, a respectful work environment and an outlet for staff members to cultivate their creativity. This year, Quinn has grown to recognize that her more-ethical business building is starting to blend with a larger conscientious consumerism.
“I like the consumer conscientiousness that has been happening over the last couple of months. It’s a priority to people, which is ironic because not everyone is doing so great financially. You would think they would shift toward fast fashion, but it’s been the opposite because we realize how connected we are so there is a concern,” Quinn said. “Where do these products come from and how was this person treated while they were making it?”
While Bromelia is finding traction, its colorful swimwear made in bright hues and unique, fun patterns wasn’t always resonating with potential wholesale partners. After relocating back to Los Angeles, Quinn sought a foothold within the United States market, but she was met with skepticism from buyers—a trend that didn’t last long.
“I went out, and 90 percent of buyers told me the collection was too vibrant. ‘It’s all about basic, neutral colors, maybe a tie-dye,’ they said. All these retail bricks-and-mortar stores were turning me down,” she said. “All of a sudden, there has been a shift, and color is selling.”
Attributing this change in demand to a shift in consumer mood, Quinn feels that people want to enjoy a bit of happiness again. She is pleased that Bromelia can serve as a source for joy.
“It is really cool to see this vibrancy, this happiness or this search for happiness that people are starting to look for that is a result of being inside and deprived for so long of filling their souls,” she said.
Available at bromeliaswimwear.com,suits are made using a fabrication that includes UPF 50. Bikini tops and bottoms are sold at retail price points of $72 to $76, and one-pieces range from $148 to $169. Men’s pieces are also available at $72 in S–L sizing. Women’s sizing is available in XS–L, with XL being added to the line in 2021. Due to cultural differences between the United States and Brazil, Quinn had bypassed including the larger size when she was in the South American country but recognizes the value of the stateside body-positivity movement.
“It still has a large Brazilian emphasis, and I want to highlight that; while it has inspiration from Brazil, it doesn’t mean the suits are all super cheeky,” she said. “We have a wide range from teeny tiny, but there are more full-body models. Women have to feel good. We make a little something for everyone.”
With her return to Los Angeles, Quinn revealed that production will move to the Southern California city as local manufacturing is integral to her brand, yet she will continue to use fabric from Brazil. This hands-on approach also follows Quinn into her customer service. Pre-COVID-19, she organized a pop-up shop with Abbot Kinney’s Coutula boutique, which afforded valuable accessibility to clients.
“It’s been great research and development. I meet the women, try suits on with them and adjust them with my own hands. I hear everything they like and don’t like. I’ll tweak even our best suits every year to get toward that best fit,” she said. “From an industry perspective, to engage with Bromelia in any way is to engage with a community, with real people that are behind a product.”
Photos courtesy of Bromelia Swimwear.