The Victoria’s Secret angel, mother of two and new swim designer has a refreshingly real approach to female beauty.
Though perhaps best-known as one of Victoria’s Secret’s preternaturally beautiful “angels,” the South African supermodel has asserted herself within a new domain: as an entrepreneur. Tropic of C, her new line of swimwear, recently launched on Moda and (unlike many celebrity-fronted lines) it is entirely Swanepoel’s creation. She leads her team every step of the way, from the initial sources of inspiration to the design process, fabric-sourcing and final production stages—and is well aware of the unique skill set she brings to the table. One of those is a keen business savvy from years of industry experience. “Modeling taught me the importance of being a businesswoman and… [the meaning of] hard work”, she says.
Tropic of C not only puts Swanepoel in the company of other successful female business owners, but it also is a vehicle for her to connect with passions close to her heart. Everything from the packaging to the garment bags and the techno fabric is eco-friendly (the latter is made from old fishing nets) which reflects her aims to protect the environment. Helping women feel good about themselves is another chief objective, something she is better positioned for than many may realize.
She may look “perfect”, but Swanepoel is unfortunately no stranger to body-shaming. Earlier this year, she faced a deluge of negative comments scrutinizing her body after paparazzi snapped photos of her on a beach in Brazil just 12 days after giving birth to her second son in June. She responded via Instagram, defending women against unrealistic pressures while also celebrating the miracle of the female body. “Beauty standards are sometimes impossible for women these days,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m not ashamed to show my postpartum tummy, I am proud actually…I carried my son for 9 months in there, I think I’ve earned the right to have a little tummy”.
Not only can she relate to how women want to feel (confident in their bodies), but Swanepoel is also well-versed in what swimwear will ensure they do. Countless hours in front of the camera modeling just about every style of suit you can imagine has given her an understanding of the sort of silhouettes, fits and materials that are the most comfortable and flattering. Translation: the ones that make women feel their best. “I’ve gathered so much knowledge,” she says. “I wanted to combine that with my love of swimwear to create a line that can be worn by any woman and make her feel sexy and powerful.”
Now every inch the multi-hyphenate power woman, Swanepoel is as driven and inspiring as she is relatable and down-to-earth.
Meet our Moda Muse
Three important qualities every businesswoman should possess?
Determination, Organization, and Persistence.
World’s best beach?
Shell Beach in St. Barths, Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and Praia do Bode in Brazil.
All-time favorite hotel?
Amangiri in Utah.
When I have time, The Deuce.
Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life by Gisele.
Workout you swear by?
Go-to beach shoe?
Most treasured possession?
Grandmother’s ring that I inherited
The quality you value most in a man?
The living person you most admire?
Guilty pleasure you’ve adopted since becoming a mom?
In a recent interview to the website of the magazine Esquire Russell James talked about his new book “Angels”, his infamous shoot with Kendall Jenner, Sara Sampaio and the cover girl Candice Swanepoel.
Esquire: And having Candice Swanepoel on the cover was a victory for both James and the supermodel.
Russell: Swanepoel has given birth to two children in the last two years, and the Internet hasn’t always been kind to the 30-year-old regarding her body. James wanted to celebrate the phase of life she’s entered: “I shot her four weeks after the birth of her second child,” James says. “[She] is the ultimate hippie and just a beautiful soul. And, literally, I’ve had instances in my career where I took photographs of Candice in swimwear and then we had people saying ‘you shouldn’t retouch the women to look like that because it’s unattainable’—which I entirely agree with—and I’ve gone back to the photograph and there’s not not a bit of retouch on her. Sometimes Mother Nature just does what she does.”
During her press day for Tropic of C Candice did interviews for promote her line which are getting slowly. This interview comes from the website Fashionista
The mother of two, who quietly launched Tropic of C earlier this year, calls the brand her “third baby.”
As Instagram and the influencers that dominate it continue to assert their selling power within the fashion industry, certain social media-driven market trends have emerged. Not only are consistently traveling influencers launching clothing brands in droves (with swimwear among the most popular categories), the far-flung sponsored vacation has proven to be an increasingly lucrative marketing program for retailers looking to build their online audiences and push seasonal products.
In many of these cases, the personality behind the brand is leveraging their social capital as a built-in customer base and crafting the label’s vision on both their personal aesthetic and the commentary they receive daily from their followers. However, certain big names on social media are industry veterans who have decades of multifaceted experience to draw upon when finally venturing out into the world of entrepreneurship. Candice Swanepoel, who’s been a fashion fixture for 15 years primarily thanks to her work as a longtime Victoria’s Secret Angel model, falls into the latter camp, and in 2018, she decided to take the plunge (pun intended) on starting a swim company of her own, called Tropic of C.
“It’s been [in the works] for a couple of years; I was waiting for the right moment,” Swanepoel explains at a recent press preview for her resort collection in New York. “It took me a while to find a team because you end up working very closely for a long time — I took a lot of meetings. And when Victoria’s Secret stopped swim, I just went for it.”
Unlike many of the trend-driven, Instagram-friendly styles of swimwear that have dominated your social media feeds for several summers, Tropic of C launched with a tightly edited selection of classic silhouettes in a variety of muted and neutral colors. The form-fitting bodysuit styles — like the brand’s eponymous signature one-piece suit, “The C” — are meant to be styled with clothing, like high-waisted jeans or a maxi skirt, when the wearer isn’t lounging by the pool or spending the day at the beach. “When I’m on holiday or I’m packing, to be able to just throw a skirt on with a swimsuit is really nice — you can still feel chic and elegant,” Swanepoel says.
The Resort 2019 collection just made its online debut, and Swanepoel notes that she’s made a serious effort to source the best fabrics (including Italian knits and durable, eco-friendly regenerated nylon) from the company’s inception. “I really focus on the quality of the suits; I didn’t want to create something and just throw it out there,” she says. “It’s all stuff that I want to wear. I tend to stick to a certain aesthetic that I like and that I think looks good on the body. A lot of the pieces are high-cut — the necklines are very flattering — and there’s a little bit of ballet inspiration, as well.” Prices range from $80 for a top to $180 for a statement one-piece, with most separates designed to be mixed and matched.
The emphasis on fabrication played a big role in how the suits eventually were fit — though, somewhat unsurprisingly, Swanepoel served as the main fit model. (“It’s the control freak in me,” she laughs.) “I know there’s different bodies out there, but if the fabric is quality enough and has a good stretch, it can mold to many different shapes.” She and her team tested out each style before they were sent into production in order to make sure the fabrics attached to the body, ensuring that they’d stay put through a day of activity. “Even though you don’t see a lot of structure with padding or cups — that’s why I’m so crazy about the fabric — [the top] still holds you in.”
In the months since Swanepoel started Tropic of C, she’s relied on direct feedback from customers via social media to learn what customers want most from her — and has enjoyed having shoppers engage with her products with more than simply an Instagram like. Though the 30-year-old model has plugged dozens of designers’ goods on her social media feeds over the years, promoting her own creations is completely different territory.
“This is like my third baby, so it’s really easy for me to be enthusiastic and tell you everything about it,” Swanepoel explains of posting her Tropic of C wares to her 12.7 million Instagram followers. “Sometimes when I’m selling someone else’s product, I don’t know the back-end, but obviously that’s part of my job. I love that I can do it in my way and have it be so me. As a model, you have to be a chameleon, and it’s nice to be in control of the art direction and involved in every aspect of the business.”
During her time as a Victoria’s Secret Angel and the face of countless luxury brands including Tom Ford, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Versace and more, Swanepoel has observed (and interacted with) almost every behind-the-scenes gig the industry has to offer, from technical designers to casting agents to the all-important creative directors. It’s from this first-hand experience on set, on location and in designer fittings that she gathered the skill set necessary to start a company of her own and became infatuated with the idea of trying out other areas of the fashion business. “I love the creative aspect, the art direction, dreaming up the shoots — the story of the girl, the coloring, the editing, the whole photography side,” she says. “I really get to use that as a creative outlet.”
Aside from juggling a new venture with parenting her two young sons, she’s been thrown in the deep end when it comes to the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship. “I’ve been forced to learn the whole business side, which has really gotten me out of my comfort zone — budgeting, booking, accounting,” she recalls. “I’m bombarded with invoices daily, from manufacturing, from distribution, all of that.” Tropic of C plans to stick to the regular swim calendar when it comes to new releases, and is keeping its network of retail partners small for now, with Goop and Moda Operandi on board for wholesale retail in addition to her own e-commerce site.
Swanepoel insists that Tropic of C is growing quickly, and though she’s anxious to see where the new project takes her, she’s abiding by the “slow and steady” mantra when it comes to expansion in the early stages. “I’ve been very specific about keeping it small and keeping it mine,” Swanepoel asserts. “I didn’t work for 15 years to build a brand to just give it to someone else.”
You can shop the new collection now in the website.
The website FashionWeekDaily has a new post about Candice talking about her swim line, Tropic Of C.
CANDICE SWANEPOEL IS MAKING THE SWIMSUIT INDUSTRY A GREENER AND MORE ETHICAL PLACE
written by Charles Manning
November 1, 2018
Candice Swanepoel knows a thing or twenty about the swimsuit industry, so it makes sense that her first major foray into the business world would be in the form of a swimsuit line. But Tropic of C isn’t some celebrity vanity project. The Daily caught up with Candice to find out what makes her swim line so wonderfully different.
You launched your swimwear brand, Tropic of C, earlier this year and now you’re getting ready to launch your second collection. What has changed in that time?
The first collection I stuck with a lot of one-pieces because I wanted to differentiate from other swim brands and because I’m known for bikinis, I wanted to just start off with something a little bit more fashion. And then for the resort collection, obviously we get a lot of direct feedback through Instagram — what people are liking — so we kept some of the silhouettes that people were loving and just changed up the colors. So resort is all those desert-y nudes and earthy colors and then Spring gets a little bit more colorful. We recently started doing knits too, which I’m excited about. They have good stretch but they’re just a different take on swim.
You also seem to be working really hard to make your brand as ecologically responsible and ethical as possible. Was that always the plan or is it something that has evolved over time?
In general, with everything I do, I like to try my best to be as ethical as possible. Obviously it’s hard to be 100 percent, especially in the swim industry because it’s not known as an ethical industry. I started with the packaging because nowadays, with Instagram and everything, we get sent a lot of clothing and opening bags and bags of plastic — things wrapped twice over — it’s upsetting. So I started with the packaging which is 100 percent eco [100 percent recycled paper hang tags, ‘tree-free’ stone paper packaging, and biodegradable plastic garment bags]. Then someone told me about this brand that creates [eco-friendly] fabrics. We started researching which ones are good and then they started sending us a bunch and the quality was amazing.
In the first collection, everything that was black and white was made from this Econyl bi-elastic techno fabric, which they make from old fishing nets so you’re not producing more [petroleum-based synthetic materials]. And this season, they made us this suede fabric that’s got a different feeling. It’s really delicious, actually.
These feel incredible. And they don’t feel like swimsuits, especially these knit pieces.
The knit it not made of the same fabric. That’s why I’m very careful not to say that our brand is fully eco. We are trying out best as a company, but swim is difficult. But we’re going to get there one day.
Why is swim particularly difficult?
Because of the fabrics. Because of the nylon. The fabrics you need for swimming, for it to dry quickly and for it to work as a swimsuit are all synthetic. But at least we’re trying hard not to produce more [synthetics]. Right now we’re using about 70 percent recycled materials and still researching. A lot of the fabrics actually work better than new fabrics we sourced so it’s not like we are giving anything up.
That’s interesting. Are these recycled materials more expensive?
No, it’s not more expensive. It’s just about doing more research. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I definitely want to be proud of my brand and for it to grow in a way that I can feel good about.
Where do you think your love and concern for the environment comes from?
Growing up [in South Africa] with such an extreme level of nature, seeing these amazing creatures and just the smells and everything, I think that definitely played a big part. I can’t wait to go back to South Africa, actually. I’m going in December. I’m taking my boys. They’re going see like lions and everything for the first time!
Where do you see your brand 10 years from now?
It’s hard to say. I would love to make it into a lifestyle brand and constitute to incorporate new elements and learn new things. I’ve already learned so much just being on the back end of the business.
Do you want to become a mogul or transition into acting or anything like that?
I mean, obviously, if you wanted to, you could probably keep modeling for the next 30 years or more.
I don’t know about that.
I have probably another 10 years in me if I take care of myself.
It’s a more demanding job than a lot of people realize.
Funnily enough, I’m actually quite a shy person. Obviously, my job requires me to do a lot of out-there things, but it’s definitely a sort of persona that I put on to help me kind of come out of my shell. I don’t know if I would go into TV or anything like that. I just wanted to have a brand and a creative outlet and make nice things that people enjoy and feel good in.