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Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company

Although by name alone, Summer Rapp would appear to be made for summer, her swimwear industry experience only reinforces that.

Now the California-born, Long Beach-based creative is introducing a direct-to-consumer swimwear brand, Summer of 78. The brand’s moniker is not just a nod to her name and the year that she was born, but also an open-ended sentiment that could reference a moment in time or a person, among other feelings. The company’s trademarked tag line — “A Summer Like No Other” — sums up the ethos best.

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Last year Rapp started developing the company with her cofounder husband Stever, another seasoned executive in the swim and surf category. Thirteen years ago, the couple started the design company Add-Black, which they continue to own and operate. Further back, she teamed up with Mandy Fry and Paul Naude to launch the young contemporary label Amuse Society. Rapp’s résumé also includes senior roles at Quiksilver and Volcom.

Having been “building brands for other players for a long time,” Rapp said that she was eager to express some of her many ideas through her own label, and the timing coalesced with her manufacturing resources and her team. “Everybody really wanted to jump in to do this together.”

The price point-quality ratio for swimwear is something that has frustrated Rapp during her 23 years in the industry. Having designed swimwear, both for private label and for popular brands, she said she knows there is a way to create more aspirational, sustainable and fashion-forward pieces with more “attainable” prices, as in $108 and $148 for two-piece suits. The full range, which includes select apparel pieces, retails from $90 to $178. Declining to comment on first-year wholesale projection, she said one advantage of direct-to-consumer is being able to lean into what fabrics and body shapes consumers favor.

Summer of 78
Summer of 78 has been developed with durability and function in mind.

Durability and support were key focuses in the design, as evident in the silicon taping used in the interior of the bandeau top and sturdy back clasps. The first collection is being produced in Sri Lanka. Summer of 78 is being produced by factories that Rapp has been using for more than a decade. “Looking for partners can be a really tricky part for people who are just starting out, but we have that built in to our ecosystem through our business arrangement.”

In addition to its just-launched e-commerce site, Summer of 78 will be using Instagram, paid ads and influencers to help get its message out. The company has not ruled out the right retail partnership, but the plan is not to get into the basic wholesale model. Playing up fashion, fit and function, Summer of 78 aims to cater to the underserved space between fast fashion and designer swimwear. To highlight sustainability, the brand has designed tops with pockets inside of the cups but without removable pads, as is routine with many brands. The idea is that women can recycle pads from their other swimwear to reduce environmental waste.

“They’re universal so they can recycle those. We’re also not adding the cost into the garment especially knowing that a lot of women take them out and throw them right in the garbage,” Rapp said.

Summer of 78
The new brand is also selling sheer and see-through styles.

In addition to the expected logo hoodie, Summer of 78 offers beach-to-bar styles, like a long camisole dress and a sparkly skirt, as well as some see-through and sheer fishnet pieces that were inspired by items Rapp’s mother wore in the 1970s.

Rapp and her husband, who worked at Hurley for more than 10 years, “definitely live the beach style” life with their two children, one of whom is avidly into surfing. “We travel. The sun, the salt and the sand are one of the reasons why I love the category and it’s part of my blood. I grew up surfing and surfing competitively,” she said. “I’m a fair-weather surfer now. I surf on vacation, when the water is warm enough to wear a bikini and not a wetsuit.”

Summer of 78
Summer of 78 offers one-piece styles too.

A frequent traveler to the south of France, where her father was born, Rapp said she loves the culture, beaches, beach clubs, water, the people and the food in the area. “I’ve spent a lot of time there. When I envisioned my brand, I envisioned it having a French hand,” as hinted at in the brand’s typography, the lens that the photos were taken with and the models’ casting. Not overtly young or sexy, the aim was to create a lifestyle that “would transport you to a different place that would make you feel like you were part of that trip or memory,” Rapp said.

Summer of 78 Swimwear Collection Debuts Bikinis and Beach-to-Bar Styles in First Campaign, Photos

Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company
Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company
Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company
Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company
Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company
Summer of 78 Comes to Life in New Swimwear Company

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Launch Gallery: Summer of 78 Swimwear Collection Debuts Bikinis and Beach-to-Bar Styles in First Campaign, Photos

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