Welcome to our podcast, Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr. Think of it as your direct line to the designers, stylists, beauty experts, editors, and tastemakers who are shaping the fashion-and-beauty world. Subscribe to Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Supermodel Candice Swanepoel just may be *the* expert on what swimsuits to pack on your summer holiday.
In 2018, Swanepoel co-founded Tropic of C, an eco-lifestyle and swimsuit brand.
After a nearly 20-year long career in front of the camera, Swanepoel took the skills she learned modeling for brands like Victoria’s Secret to the direct-to-consumer space.
Tropic of C is rooted in sustainability and community to create quality pieces that are meant to last—and withstand the trend cycle.
Swanepoel has always loved swimwear and being near a body of water when she had time off. As a kid, Swanepoel used to make swimsuits out of leftover fabric from her mother’s dance concerts.
“My mom was an aerobics teacher and a dance teacher when I was growing up and we always had lycra and pieces of fabric laying around the house,” Swanepoel said.
For the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, Swanepoel shares what it was like launching her first collection, the swimsuits everyone should own, and more.
For excerpts from their conversation, scroll below.
Through your first career, you know a lot about swimwear, but having a good eye for something and then actually understanding the market of a particular category are completely different things—let alone getting a brand up and running. I know that you launched in 2018, but at what point did you decide like, “You know what? I want to enter the market to start my own company and this is what the vision is going to be.”
Understanding the market was something that came later to me, as I learned, but I had this dream of creating Tropic of C for years before I actually did it. I think that was partly I had no time in my life, because it wasn’t like you were working at home. Nowadays, you can shoot a whole campaign just at home.
I was in the studio most of the year or on a beautiful beach shooting swimwear for Victoria’s Secret. It was a way for me—while I was working—to kind of analyze the product and really understand what worked for me, what I thought was beautiful. Kind of creating my own vision of if I did have my own brand, what would it look like?
I got to travel the world and got to go to some of the most beautifully natural places and that’s a huge inspiration for my brand. Then I got pregnant and it was important to me to really enjoy that experience. Literally as soon as I could tell people I was pregnant, I was like, “Oh, bye. I’m out.”
I went to Brazil —where I had a home there— and I was enjoying my pregnancy. I think after being in an industry that’s so fast paced, stopping in that way wasn’t gonna sit completely well with me. That’s what gave me the space and time to really focus on the vision for Tropic of C.
Having an idea and carving out some time and space to work on it is one thing, but making a vision and a brand a reality is an entirely different prospect. Talk to me about the early days, because it’s a very different skill set. How did you take this idea and actually turn it into Tropic of C?
I think you somewhat go into it with a certain naivety. I had big dreams and once I started going through branding and meeting people to construct a team, you kind of figure out that it’s not as easy as it feels.
I got pointed in the right direction to my partner, Daniela. I was already in New York at this point and figuring out how to construct a business, people’s roles, equity, all of these things is like a whole other beast.
That’s how I’ve always learned things is just by going through them. So in that time, I was quite well known for being the swim girl. It was a huge part of my life and still is. Every time I would have time off, I’d be on a beach. That was organically the category that I wanted to start with.
My mom was an aerobics teacher and a dance teacher when I was growing up and we always had lycra and pieces of fabric laying around the house. I think even as a little girl, I was making swimsuits out of the leftover fabrics from her concerts. It goes a long way back.
Talk to me about launch. I’m curious about how long it took from idea to actually creating that first collection?
It took a year to structure the business and get it up and running. Setting up a supply chain, distribution, it’s really intricate. That takes about a year—at least for us, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist and I’ve been in the fashion industry for 20 years now, so it was kind of, for me an evolution of my legacy. I didn’t want to just license my name to somebody and not know what the product is and not care.
That was a big deal for me. The quality and what it looked like, how the packaging was. Those early days, was kind of the beginning of influencer culture. I was just daily horrified by little things packaged in a million plastic bags and while going through branding, sitting at the table, I was like “How can I feel good about this next chapter in my life? And what can we do?”
We started doing the research and, in that time, there were a couple of companies that had sprouted in Europe that were doing regenerated nylons and decomposable bags. Now five years later, it’s really amazing to see that it’s kind of an industry norm. That’s how that started.
In the first collection, from design and quality and the back side of the business, I had been perfectionist—and then continued to be—with the kind of art directing and I had chosen these amazing locations that were close to my heart. One in Brazil. We went to Turks and Caicos, as well. The first shoot was really important for me and kind of a pinch me moment to feel like, “Wow, I did this, I went for it. And it’s working. And here’s the product in my hand. And here’s my vision. And I get to be the boss.”
I can only imagine that you obviously love all of the products and all of the styles the same. If you had to pick a favorite or a few favorites from the line currently, what would you say?
A lot of my favorites are in our core collection. We have a triangle bikini called Praia, which is we kind of bring whatever pattern or fabric of the season in that style, so that’s a staple. You can have a million of them. They’re small, but the quality it’s just the way it holds you in. It’s an everyday must, so I have a million of those in every print.
South African model CANDICE SWANEPOEL is one of the most recognized women in fashion and entertainment.
Throughout her career, Candice has appeared in campaigns for international brands such as Tom Ford, Versace, Miu Miu, Givenchy, and Michael Kors. Candice has graced the covers of some of the most prestigious fashion publications including many international editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, i-D, V, and GQ. On the runway, Candice has walked for brands such as Versace, Chanel, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Tom Ford, and Jean Paul Gaultier just to name a few. Candice is the first South African model to walk thr Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In 2010, she became a Victoria’s Secret Angel, after her debut in 2007.
In 2018, Candice launched Tropic of C, an eco-lifestyle and ethically sourced swimwear, which expanded into dance-inspired activewear in 2020. With an expertise in both modeling and designing swimwear, Candice was recently featured as a guest judge for the swimwear episode of Netflix’s hit show Next in Fashion (2023).
Devoted to giving back to the community, Candice is also a global ambassador of Mothers2Mothers, a charity devoted to eliminating pediatric AIDS in Africa.
You can purchase tickets for the event at this link.
Free People released x26 photos of Candice Swanepoel as part of their Getaway Shop collection.
The collection includes maxi dresses, skirts, chokers and crop tops.
You can purchase your favorite items by clicking in the following link Free People
Check out the lookbook by clicking in the thumbnails above this text or clicking on the link below these lines.
PHOTOSHOOTS > DOMEN & VAN DE VELDE
Keeping Up With Candice Swanepoel – V Magazine
If you are one of the nearly 20 million people that follow model Candice Swanepoel, then you certainly can tell that there’s no slowing Candice down anytime soon. The model muse, mother, and entrepreneur has been actively unveiling new projects every so often, such as fronting global fashion campaigns and magazine covers, surprise television appearances, and even dropping stunning visuals for her swimwear line,Tropic of C, it’s been a wild ride keeping up with Swanepoel as she documents her next moves for her loyal followers to catch.
Ahead of the summer season, V caught up with Candice to chat about all things fashion, parenting, and her efforts for a more sustainable approach to living.
V Magazine: You were just on an episode of Netflix’s Next in Fashion with Gigi Hadid and Tan France! What was that experience like being asked to guest judge the swimwear competition? Would you ever think about doing more television shows like that, maybe down the line?
Candice Swanepoel: Yes, I would probably enjoy being part of filming a show of some sort, I had such a great time filming, I was honored to be invited by the team, and bring my expertise to that segment of the show. Gigi [Hadid] has always been a wonderful supporter of my career and filming with her was especially fun.
As a young girl, I was obsessed with watching American idol and talent shows that enabled new artists to have their moment in the spotlight, there is something so beautiful to me about the raw emotion of it all. I love a success story. It always touched me.
V: Now with about four years of ‘Tropic of C’ under your belt, what are some lessons and experiences that you’ve learned from now dealing with the business of swimwear? How do you think the brand has helped you flex your creative muscle?
CS: My creative muscle is something I can’t deny, even when I’m overwhelmed. It is also why I still love what I do, as creativity is one of the ways I process life or mirror it or inspire it. I think I was born with a specific vision and it pleases me to share it with people who will connect and appreciate it. Creativity and business are two very separate things and I’ve had to learn to be a fearless businesswoman but I’ve always loved a challenge.
There are ups and downs, struggles and victories, but I do love it, and I’m mostly just proud of the community we’ve built. To see something just as a vision in my mind and then see it come to life is extremely satisfying. Starting a business helped me find other voices I never knew I had in me.
V: Why was there such a strong emphasis on sustainability and ethical production for the products?
CS: I have always been passionate about nature, and being connected to a greater consciousness, so I have a great respect for it. Anyone that has followed my journey would know that’s a huge part of my essence. I grew up understanding that we are all energy and that whatever you put out in the world comes back around. I always asked myself how we can better live as part of one big ecosystem, it’s definitely much bigger than we can comprehend but as long as I’m doing what I can do to be better or inspiring other brands to do the same, it makes me happy. It was only natural for me to find a way to be proud of what the continuation of my story would be. Having children makes you think about your impact on a much greater level too. I wanted to do something that wasn’t being done—where there is a will there is a way, and now it is becoming the norm, which is a huge leap in the right direction.
V: The fashion industry itself is ever-evolving, and the focus on models changes with it–while you’re no stranger to motherhood, how have you managed to strike a balance between giving your children your undivided attention but also keeping the flame of your career with modeling and running the swimwear business still burning as bright? Have you found the challenges of a work/life balance to be a bit overwhelming at times?
CS: Life is a constant search for balance, for me at least, and yes I do sometimes feel overwhelmed, but I’m very in tune with my children’s needs, then my own personal needs which are also important. Sometimes it’s easy to forget. I’ve realized to be a better mother, I know I need to also take care of myself, whether that be about my [physical] health or mental health, or being able to excel in my career and business because it brings me joy and so my children have begun to understand that too. I think it’s very healthy and important for them to see everything I do. One of my most vivid memories as a child was seeing my father wake up at 4 am to take care of our farm and his dedication and drive is something that is now part of me and something I hope they will learn from me.
It’s all about intuition and gut feelings for me, everything is constantly changing, my children are growing up and that requires a different kind of attention, my business is growing up and the same goes for that. It’s not all planned, it’s purely what I feel is right and healthy for myself and my family and also both careers.
V: From walking Paris Fashion Week for Vivienne Westwood to being crowned as the new face of Anne Klein, what has been keeping you motivated lately to keep going?
CS: What keeps me motivated is my curiosity to learn and experience life and all it has to teach and offer, that in-turn fuels my need to create. The projects and brands I’m involved with always trust my vision so it’s a collaboration at the end of the day and being able to collaborate and make something I’m proud of together with a great group of people, all with their own unique experience—these are the things that continue to inspire and drive me.
V: With summer fast approaching, what are you hoping that the summer will bring for you?
CS: Summer to me is being surrounded by great people and friends. It’s about delicious fresh food, sun, sea, and rest, being able to let go of schedules and let loose in a new and exciting place, laughing, and making memories with people I love or people I am yet to love is the perfect summer in my mind.
Photography Greg Swales
Fashion Leila Bani
Interview Kevin Ponce
Hair Dimitri Giannetos using L’Oréal Paris
Makeup Barbara Moura
Digital Technician Amanda Yanez
Lighting Technician Yolanda Learney
DP Chevy Tyler
Hair Assistance Luca Pagani
Styling Assistance Michelle Ball
Photoshoots > Greg Swales – V Magazine
Born in South Africa and with a profession that made her travel the world, Candice Swanepoel found her place in the world here, in Brazil. “I feel a connection to other lives, something a bit mystical,” says the model in an interview with Bazaar. Since her first visit, when she was 17, Candice knew that one day she would like to live here and, whenever she can, she separates free moments in her professional life to visit the country that her soul embraced. “I think there are places in the world where your spirit fits well, and Brazil is that for me. It has always been a place where I feel calmer, my mind is clearer. It’s an inexplicable thing,” she adds.
Over the years, the country gained an even more special place in her heart. Candice gave birth to her two children with Brazilian Hermann Nicoli, Anacã and Ariel (ages six and four, respectively), in Vitória, Espírito Santo. The model says that her dream was to be able to live and raise her children on Brazilian soil, but that living in the United States makes her work easier.
“I try my best to teach about where they were born, I tell the story. I’m always surrounded by Brazilians, many of my friends are from there, so we speak a lot of Portuguese at home. They understand everything but don’t say much because of school. I am very happy to take them to Brazil and show them my vision. I think that, because I’m not Brazilian, I only see beautiful things. Sometimes, being from the country, people focus on the bad things, on politics. Visiting Brazil with me is a fairy tale”, she says in Portuguese. Throughout the interview, Candice conducts the conversation calmly, as if she were speaking in her mother tongue, mixing expressions and jokes of someone who is used to talking to Brazilians who rarely have problems with the English language.
In addition to her personal life, Candice Swanepoel’s profession also gained space here, allowing the model to visit the country more frequently. One of those times was earlier this year, when Candice landed in São Paulo to photograph the Schutz campaign. The star is the protagonist of the brand’s images, with whom her relationship began long before becoming an advertising star. “When I was 18 or 19 years old and traveled to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, I always went to the stores to buy shoes. This story is really cool, since in the beginning I was a consumer”, she recalls.
For her, one of the characteristics that most attracts her about working with Schutz speaks directly to the favorite part of her profession: being able to interpret different personas. “Each campaign they run has a very strong direction. I love arriving and understanding who this woman is wearing those shoes”, explains Candice and adds that the jobs always have incredible teams. “That’s important, because we don’t do anything alone. It’s like making a cake: if you put some ingredients wrong, it won’t be good. With Schutz, I always trust that something amazing will come out.”
By talking more with the South African model, it is possible to begin to understand her strong connection with Brazil, even before all the history and emotional baggage that the model created with the country. Chat goes, chat comes and the focus of the conversation returns to this passion, more specifically for Bahia, a place that she doesn’t hesitate to visit when she is here. She says it’s a place of refuge and, when analyzing why, she highlights the connection with African culture. “It brings something from my childhood. I feel like it’s a place where I can become a child again, play, live, be back in nature. It is a place that has always cured me of anything.”
When questioning her about her childhood in South Africa, Candice Swanepoel says that only those who experienced it can deeply understand the experiences she had growing up surrounded by nature and different cultures – but the smile on her face makes it possible to witness a bit of the nostalgia that surrounds her. the subject. The model says that she was raised on a farm, with breathtaking landscapes. She makes a comparison with the settings of the feature film “Entre Dois Amores”, from 1985, for those who have never visited the place to get a sense of the landscape, but claims that, even so, it doesn’t come close to the real beauty of the place.
“My family has always been very down to earth. Growing up in that time, in that place, built a big part of my personality. I was always curious and loved everything that was a little wild. We lived in a state where the Zulus lived. I grew up surrounded by Zulu women”, she details. “In my profession, it’s easy to get lost and, for me, this strong connection to Africa and my family keeps me connected. I’ve always believed in the right values, in being a person who works to get where he wants to be. I thank God so much for having this experience. Being born in this place, geographically, is an outbreak”, she jokes.
Looking back also causes Candice to compare changes in her profession – both negative and positive. For her, at the beginning of her career, models needed to walk around the cities, go from photographer to photographer, rely on word of mouth to launch her career, while today, social networks provide digital support for self-promotion. On the other hand, the amount of eyes on the new generation, the mean comments and exposure make the profession more emotionally intense.
“Find something that makes you feel good (and that makes you feel good too) and do it. Don’t try to be like millions of people. When I started, I was 15 years old, because it took longer to move around in the fashion world. But today I see girls starting older. So I would say: if you are 15 years old, go live your life and have experiences”, Candice advises anyone who wants to start working in fashion.
Before ending our conversation, Candice makes a request, amidst laughter, which seems more like advice and which reinforces how used to Brazilian culture she is: “go to a bar for me, have a beer”.
PUBLIC APPEARANCES > 2023 > March 29 – Schutz x Candice Swanepoel Dinner In Miami.
Candice Swanepoel stars in a new ad for Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Sculpted Transformation Creme
Screen Captures > Campaigns > 2023 > Re-Nutriv | Ultimate Diamond Sculpted Transformation Creme
Fashion Shows > 2023 > Spring/Summer > BOSS