It’s time to say hola to a swimwear brand that’s making its Hamptons debut! Água de Coco is the Brazilian empire of designer Liana Thomaz, who’s about to turn up the sexy quotient on the East End with her first international location: a pop-up shop in East Hampton.
How did you land in the swimwear business?
Ever since I was young, I knew that I would not be the kind of woman who would financially depend on my father or my husband, so I’ve always fought to have my independence. My first contact with fashion was when I was 17 years old. At that time, I used to go out with my friends searching for swimwear that had quality for a good price. My friends and I were always at the beach, and due to that, I was able to understand the needs of women. I started to travel often from Fortaleza to Rio de Janeiro by bus—a one-way trip takes three days—pregnant with my first son, to find new models and bring them to Fortaleza. From there, I started to create my own designs.
How has the brand evolved?
In the beginning, I had a commercial model—I was focused on sales, but I slowly started adding personality to the brand, creating a unique style. I started with just one seamstress and one sewing machine, but I always sought to have a product with unquestionable quality. This is how Água de Coco became the success that it is now.
How do you describe your design aesthetic?
I do a lot of research! I’m always looking for new references and trying to find a balance between the commercial and conceptual sides of the business. I focus on design and good fit and finishing.
Who is the Água de Coco customer?
I see two different customers: one who wants to tan, go swimming, and play sports on the beach, and the other who goes on a luxury cruiser and wants to be well dressed for all occasions. In both cases, I always seek to have sophisticated looks with high quality to attend to our clients’ demands.
How big is your company in Brazil?
Today, we have an industrial park that occupies 7,500 square meters in the city of Fortaleza. We have more than 600 employees distributed among the factory and several stores. The brand produces 40,000 articles in swimwear and accessories monthly. Currently, Água de Coco by Liana Thomaz collections can be found in almost all the Brazilian states, in 28 stand-alone stores, e-commerce sites, and more than 600 multi-brand stores. Abroad, the brand is present in more than 86 stores in different countries.
What was the inspiration for your Summer 2017 collection?
The Hamptons! We are opening our first international store there, so it was fair enough to have this destination as inspiration.
Why did you decide to open a pop-up shop in East Hampton?
It has a connection with Água de Coco. It’s a beach destination with the right element of unpretentious sophistication. I also love the lifestyle!
Have you spent time out there?
Yes, I’ve been there! I used to rent a house or stay at Gurney’s. Besides enjoying the beach, I love going for a walk on Main Street—it’s one of my favorite things to do. Going to the Hamptons puts you in contact with a really sophisticated American lifestyle and a unique beach experience.
Will you spend time there this summer?
Of course; especially now with our store!
You have a big social media following. How critical is that to your business?
Very important! Brazil is one of the most connected countries in the world. The average amount of time that a Brazilian spends every day on social media is among the most in the world. We understand that, and we use social media as a direct channel to our clients. Today, we have more than 550K followers on Instagram and 70K on Facebook. These are really important numbers.
How has Água de Coco expanded?
I started Água de Coco with swimwear for women. Later, we expanded into children’s, then men’s, and recently, we launched our own home line, Casa Água de Coco. It will be available at our store in the Hamptons!
Who are your muses?
Women who are strong and powerful. We always work with women who transmit those values, like Gisele Bündchen, Isabeli Fontana, and Caroline Trentini…they are all Brazilians who represent our brand very well and are part of our history.
A lot of women have trouble finding a flattering swimsuit. What’s your advice?
More than anything else, a woman needs to know herself and her body. There are no rules. The most important thing is feeling good when you look in the mirror