Good news for beachgoers: Blend Bikinis, which offers well-made, mix-and-match bikini separates, is opening its first store at The Mall at University Town Center on Thursday, Aug. 1. Swimwear buyers are all too aware of the frustrations of finding the right fit, since, most of the time, tops and bottoms are sold as sets. Blend founder Angela Kim found women were just trying to “make swimsuits work." "So many of my friends and their daughters would need a small on top and a medium on the bottom or something similar, and instead they were just trying to make ill-fitting sets work for them,” Kim says. Selling swimwear pieces separately also guarantees that you can find a unique color combo that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Kim comes to Sarasota from New York City with a background in haute couture. Ever since she started her career in fashion, Kim wanted to launch her own brand. Her husband has family in Sarasota and, after years of visiting, they decided to make the move. That's when Kim noticed a gap in the swimsuit market here in Florida. “The top swim brands are all coming out of New York City, California, Australia and Brazil, yet Florida has the top-rated beaches in the country,” Kim says. “Furthermore, I noticed in Sarasota there appeared to be a gap between inexpensive, lesser-quality swimwear and extremely high-end swimwear. Nobody in the market was offering well-made suits at a fair price.”
After years of working in the fashion industry and consulting for other brands, Kim knew the direction she wanted to take when it came to her own line. “The world doesn’t need another fashion brand unless they have a strong sense of purpose and community,” Kim says. Blend takes the idea of corporate social responsibility to heart; a percentage of all sales goes to providing free swim lessons to under-served communities. Kim cites the grim statistic that in Florida the leading cause of death in children is drowning. She benefitted from free swim lessons as a child, and she hopes that all kids can have similar access.
Kim has been selling her bikinis online for close to four years, but has finally decided it was time to bring her products to a brick and mortar store. Located on the lower level of the mall, the new shop will feature beach house interiors and a comfortable atmosphere where shoppers can select the perfect swimsuit. To check out some of her merchandise ahead of time, head to the Blend Bikinis website or Instagram, or just pop into the shop this August.
The Mall at University Town Center is located at 140 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota.