Designer Spotlight: Amaio Swim
Amaio Swim is true to its Parisian roots: classic, elegant, chic. Here, we chat to designer Samantha Khoury about her love affair with haute couture, her philanthropist spirit, and who she'd love to see wear her designs.
Can you explain how Amaiò Swim got started?
Amaiò Swim started four years ago as I was just finishing my college education in Paris. I had been studying fine arts and literature with a minor in international relations. I worked for UNESCO for some time and became disillusioned with the entire non-profit corporate system. I knew I wanted to create an enterprise in which there was a for-profit component that could help streamline a non-profit entity, under the auspice of a brand, in order to create more autonomy and freedom to do and see more projects through that directly increase the quality of life for communities around the world.
My girlfriend at the time had already started a swimwear line, and wanted a partner to come on board. We joined forces, and I brought this structural component to the company, while we started working on improving and developing the brand. I had already decided I wanted to move to California after my studies, and my partner at the time was going to stay in Paris.
A month later, my partner was honest with me and said her heart was not in it, and she truly wanted to focus on becoming a writer. Of course, everything happens for a reason, and I was so grateful for her honesty with herself and with me. We closed that business down, and I moved on to doing some odd jobs here and there. However, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had fallen in love with swimwear, as it finally felt like the perfect medium that made sense of these two sides of myself: the cosmopolitan side that loves art, culture, travel, design, and fashion and the other that has had a life long love affair with the ocean, and seas and the lifestyle that it represents. Not to mention, I really wanted to try this idea of having a socially conscious business structure that helped lift some of the burdens that most NGO’s face: large overhead costs, never enough money to fully implement significant infrastructure projects, etc. It took a few more years since that time and a few more twists and turns, but Amaiò was finally born and it has turned into something so much more than I ever thought was imaginable.
What is it like being in the swimwear industry?
The swimwear industry is fun! It has developed into so much more and continues to push the boundaries of what swimwear is and how the consumer interacts, thinks and feels about swimwear. The creativity and design we see coming out of the industry is exciting, and something people haven’t seen before. The concept has changed, and I think designers and consumers alike want more versatility, sophistication and want to buy something that reflects who they are/their everyday personal style in every garment they purchase, including swimwear.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from haute couture and ready-to-wear. To me, it’s more exciting to find creative ways to combine the two (RTW and swimwear) and create something that feels more like “fashion” than just swimwear. Haute couture and the painstaking craftsmanship, detail, quality that goes into every piece is what is the most inspiring to me and the dedication you find in these great fashion houses- I wanted to bring some of those same philosophies and concepts to swimwear.
What's the most special piece you've designed and why?
Oh, that’s a tough one! Each piece feels so special and unique in its own right as so much detail, thought, and attention was put into each one. If I had to pick, I would say our ballet one-piece. It is the most romantic and most reminiscent of my Parisian life. Paris holds the seed of inspiration for me. It is my home, and a huge piece of who I am and who I continue to develop into. So anything that captures that essence holds a special place in my heart.
What's your favorite part of building a swimwear brand?
My absolute favorite parts of building a swimwear brand are the designing, the actual construction, and the creative direction for all the content, styling, etc.
When designing, what girl do you keep in mind?
I keep in mind a true cosmopolitan woman. Someone who is worldly, loves to travel, is successful and passionate about her career and wants to feel feminine, confident, and sophisticated in every aspect of her life and wardrobe.
If you could have any celebrity spokesmodel, who would it be?
It would have to be Amal Clooney and Marion Cotillard.
How would you describe your brand?
I would describe Amaiò as a luxury brand. We have created a quality product and with that, a luxury, modern brand with a subtlety of European sensibility.
Why partner up with The Thirst project?
Partnering up with an NGO for the first five years has always been part of the structure and the plan. Being involved in humanitarian work in whatever capacity has always been apart of who I am and been extremely important to me. Water is the UN’s 2020 mission as clean drinking water is becoming scarcer and scarcer. The Thirst Project felt like a great first partnership for us as they are extremely transparent in their activities and structure and have actually separated the corporate side with the cause, allowing all money raised for the cause to go directly to the projects, communities, and people it is serving. Clean water has been a big part of the climate crisis that’s been a focus of mine, personally, and is where I wanted Amaiò to start.
Where do you see Amaiò swim in 5 years?
In five years, I hope to see Amaiò expand into more of a lifestyle brand. I hope to develop more cover-ups and ready-to-wear, accessories, and even potentially start a menswear swimwear line!