In Conversation with Laura Illbruck - SWIM WITH MI
In celebration of our estate italiana collaboration with
SWIM WITH MI, a collection of Iuxury Italian swim and resort wear, we chat to the founder Laura Illbruck.
Why and When did you start SWIM WITH MI?
The SWIM WITH MI story began during a vacation in February 2015 at the Four Seasons in the Maldives, it's my favourite getaway spot. While absolutely doing nothing, inspired by the beauty of nature, the idea of SWIM WITH MI came to life. To be honest, our brand was founded directly at the poolside by my husband and me. My husband started to set up all the legalities and I worked on the first creations.
What have your biggest challenges been?
To stand where we are now, we learned a lot during the past years.
We started with a menswear collection and transitioned later to a full range offering also women's and kidswear. Changing the strategy and the target audience comes with risk. But with hard work and dedication, we were able to establish a worldwide selling luxurious beach - and resort wear brand offering our collection for the whole family.
The fashion industry is a competitive field, there will always be someone trying to give you advice and pretend to know better. But I focus on a clear vision and translate this through my designs into our collections. Trust in yourself. You are your greatest tool!
What's your favourite place in Italy?
That is a tough question and I think I cannot name only one place. Italy is so unique and at the same time diverse, it's my second home.
I can give you my top three places I visit every summer.
1. The Island of Capri, we even named one of our best selling pieces after it, the CAPRI DRESS.
2. Villa Feltrinelli at Lago di Garda, my secret getaway spot to enjoy the Italian atmosphere.
3. Porto Cervo, which feels in August like Via Monte Napoleone just in Swimsuits!
What's the one beauty product you can't live without?
Protecting my skin is as important as protecting my health. It goes hand in hand. Over the years, I've developed a daily beauty routine to nurture my skin and give it time to relax and heal from the stressful life in the city and traveling. My absolute favourite product is the Irene Forte Aloe Vera Face Cream, which calms my skin within seconds. Another product that I really fell in love with is the Irene Forte Pomegranate Face Mask. I apply it in the evening after cleansing my face. It is so soft, that I once forgot that I had the mask on while walking my dog!
What have you got in store for 2020?
This season's collection is very exciting. Every year we offer besides its classic, Italian-inspired collection also IT pieces that can be worn perfectly at an exclusive beach club party. One of my favourite swimsuits is the COMO, a deep-rooted back and tortoiseshell swimsuit, which also comes in four different. As mentioned before, one of our best-selling pieces is the CAPRI DRESS. It is available in an exotic but elegant animal print which can also be found in our swimwear collection. Every year we create new, playful summer prints which embellish the styles for the whole family.
What makes your brand stand out from the rest?
Our Save The Corals charity partnership. Save The Corals is a special project that is very close to my heart. Founded in the Maldives, it determines a strong message regarding our environment. The 'Coral Check' design was developed to represent this exceptional project. The unique print can be found in each of our seasonal collections. For every 'Coral Check' print that is sold, a certain amount is donated to the organisation “Marine Savers” – an institution composed of marine biologists and investigators to ensure the recovery of the coral reefs.
What does the future of fashion look like?
Due to the unpredictable circumstances, I can imagine that there is a big impulse for change within the industry. The fashion industry might slow down and use this situation as a reflection and possible change. As fashion and tradeshows are cancelled, everything is moving online, there will be new opportunities to reconnect in the virtual world. Change has always the aspect of growth. These values are being represented in our business since day one. Sustainability is a big topic for me and my husband. Besides giving back to mother nature with our Save The Corals project, we are in full awareness of reducing our ecological footprint and using the best materials only. We produce exclusively in small, traditional factories with a strong personal bond as well a close proximity to our suppliers. To me, the personal contact is very important, as I control every detail from the fit to the quality, which can be seen as a result in our products and the returning customers.
What's your favourite SWIM WITH MI piece and why?
My favourite piece is without hesitation our BELLA BIKINI. It is a classic, padded triangle bikini with silver engraved fastenings. The quality and the fit is exceptional which makes it an outstanding product. It has accompanied us since we launched our first womenswear collection and is available in many different prints as well as in uni colours.