Just in time for summer, Lululemon has launched a swimwear collection with pro surfer Malia Manuel, the youngest surfer ever to win the U.S. Open of Surfing.
Manuel, who hails from Wailua, Kauai, was just 14 when she won the Huntington Beach surf competition in 2008. The new collection, which debuted in May, was conceived by Lululemon and Manuel at the brand’s Vancouver headquarters. Monthly design meetings eventually produced a final set of three pieces that met the surfer’s strict requirements. The swimwear designs incorporate the brand's patented Esca technology, which uses a lightweight, four-way stretch fabric that dries quickly and provides UV protection.
According to Lululemon Design Director Clare Robertson, “When we first met with Malia, she had very specific needs she wanted us to help her address in her swimwear. As a professional surfer, a distraction-free suit is critical. Malia had a hard time finding silhouettes that were feminine and technical, so we worked to achieve both. We incorporated technical qualities like bonded seams that lie flat against your skin and firmly attached cups that won’t shift or slide, so you can solely focus on the water.”
The pieces are meant to be versatile and can be worn for various activities. Manuel, who enjoys hiking, boxing and cooking, was inspired by ocean waves for the collection’s final aesthetic. She also insisted that the collection create “silhouettes that offer no distractions.”
“When I’m surfing, it’s critical to focus all of my attention and energy on the waves, so a no-distraction suit is key. I also wanted to incorporate subtle femininity into the collection as I find a lot of women sacrifice function for beauty or vice versa. You’ll see these subtleties in details, like scalloped edges, cross-back straps, and bonded seams," she said.
Lululemon, which was founded by Chip Wilson in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1998, started as a yoga wear company, but eventually expanded into all areas of activewear. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the company reported net revenue of $929 million, surpassing expectations of $912 million. The results represented an increase of 18 percent over the figures for the same quarter in 2016.
The surf collection features tops, bottoms, and one-pieces that range in price from $68 to $128. Malia Manuel's designs include the Will the Wave bikini top ($68), Will the Wave bikini bottom ($68) and a Will the Wave Long Sleeve One Piece ($128). The collection is currently available at select shops and at lululemon.com.