Learn how Gabrielle Zwick uses winter to her advantage in her upcoming swimwear collection.
How long have you been designing? What’s your background?
After my graduation from the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago in 2012, I interned for designer Anna Sui in New York, and shortly after, landed my first design job back in Chicago. I designed prom dresses for Rachel Allan before deciding to start my own swimwear company in 2014. I joined the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street in 2015 to learn and build my own brand and am currently in the beginning stages of my fourth swimwear season. So far I design only for women.
Why did you pick Chicago to be the home of your brand? Do you produce your whole line here?
I am originally from Illinois and it is where I attended college. After I ended up back here with the prom-dress company, things sort of just fell into place. I have been producing my entire line here but I will be moving production to New York for the next season. It is important for me to keep things in the United States.
Why did you decide to design swimwear? What makes your pieces special?
I started designing swimwear by accident! I knew I wanted to have my own line and it was not going to be prom dresses. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to design swimsuits for his Chicago Fashion float in the 2014 Chicago Gay Pride Parade. I had no clue what I was doing, but thought it would be fun to attempt. Much to my surprise, the line was a great success! People were asking where they could buy my swimwear, if they could pull it for shoots, how much, etc. etc. After this I had to work backwards. Identifying my client, what she needs… it all happened out of order.
Much to my surprise my clients ended up being older than I had expected. I usually sell to women ages forty to fifty. She is very much into fitness and wants to show off her physique, but in a classic and flattering way. My swimwear is unique because it is both sexy and flattering at the same time.
What fabrics do you usually use? Are they easy to care for?
I usually use a spandex/nylon blend. All of my fabrics are tested to be chlorine-safe by a chemist in Florida, a.k.a. my brother! I recommend to hand-wash the garments and lay them flat to dry.
What was the inspiration for your latest collection?
The next collection to be available to the public is the Fall-Winter 2016-17 line. Creating a swimwear collection for winter in Chicago, I found it kind of hilarious. I was inspired by the frost on the buildings, seeing your breath as you breathe. I translated this into silk organza for cover-ups. I also incorporated a delicate macrame lace that has almost a snowflake motif that I had sourced from the UK. Colors include grays and winter white as well as black and blush. The blush comes from our rosy cheeks after the harsh winds. I was also inspired by the way the ice cracks on the Chicago River. Several of the more strapped designs were created to mimic this concept.
What’s your price range?
The pieces range from $90-$250. This includes both swimwear and cover-ups.
Where can your pieces be purchased?
My entire line is available at GabrielleZwick.com. If customers are local, they are welcome to visit my design studio within Macy’s on State Street by appointment. (Isa Giallorenzo)
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.