Francesca Aiello, founder of cult swimwear brand Frankies Bikinis, has a new label, and is getting ready for spring 19
In 2012, Francesca Aiello began making her own bikinis to fit her exacting swimwear desires. Six years later, the Los Angeles brand has become an Instagram sensation and international success thanks to its flattering, sporty styles. The brand has 200 global stockists, including 30 in the UK, such as Harrods, Asos and Selfridges. Wholesale prices range from £25 for bikini bottoms to £65 for a one-piece. Drapers speaks to Aiello about her inspirations, brand journey and future growth.
Why did you start Frankie’s Bikinis?
I’ve always been super-picky about my bikinis – the fabric, the cut, and how they fit my body. So my mum encouraged me to have a few custom-made and we started the trial-and-error process of creating the perfect bikini back in 2012. Here we are six years later, and I continue to strive to make bikinis that everyone, and every body type, can feel confident and beautiful in.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the brand?
Lately it’s been sporty-chic – 1990s vibes meets girly girl. High cuts, athletic shapes, ribbed materials, floral prints and bold colours. I’m obsessing over the versatility of it all.
How have you grown the business since launch?
I never quite had the intention of creating a brand – at least at the start. The suits caught momentum once I started posted pictures of myself wearing them on Instagram and it just kind of blew up from there. I can confidently say I’ve made a footprint in the swimwear industry at this point and the entire brand has grown with me as a person. It’s different now. Fresher and more mature. I’ve kind of combined the two different sides of me, sporty and girly, to create pieces that are effortless and easily adaptable.
When did you know it was going to be a success?
I knew we were taking off when supermodel Candice Swanepoel reached out for bikinis and posted [online] about how much she loved them!
How do you plan to grow the brand further?
Well, I just launched my second label [in the summer], my newest baby: Aiello. A super on-trend clothing label I’ve been working on forever has finally come to life. As for Frankies, I always continue to try to improve the quality, style, and fit of the suits. And to stay ahead of the trends and create pieces that are versatile so they can be worn more than just on the beach.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be real. Be raw. Be original. Be on-trend. And never, ever give up. Go after whatever it is that you want to accomplish and genuinely believe that it can happen. Don’t be afraid of what other people think, and don’t let their opinions hold you back. Never lose sight of your dream, regardless of any speed bumps you may hit.
What challenges has the brand faced?
Growth is always a challenge with owning a company, as well as the trial-and-error process we went through at the start of Frankies in finding the best people to make our bikinis.
Who do you admire in the industry?
It’s not really about who – it’s about what. And that’s the carefree beach lifestyle that is so prevalent here in California. On top of that, I find inspiration from young girls around the world. I love their vibe, their confidence.
Favourite clothing brand
It’s so tough to pick only one, but it’d have to be Opening Ceremony or Kith
Favourite places to shop
I love Barneys and a good vintage store
Last fashion purchase
Sweaters – I’m gearing up for the cooler months
Last book you read
If I’m being totally honest, I’m not a big reader
Last film you watched
At a surf shop
What you do at the weekend
I’m at the beach, always