Foxy, Baby! Meet Wildfox’s Kimberley Gordon and Leilani Shimoda

by Dena Silver

Fresh from the pages of  The Daily Swim, bringing you the scantily clad scoop from Swim Week in Miami! Wildfox, the brilliant brainchild of Kimberley Gordon, has expanded far beyond the cheeky T-shirts with playful sayings that first made them famous. Now a full-fledged lifestyle brand, Wildfox has emerged as a major player on the bikini front, and designer Leilani Shimoda is plotting to take over the pool scene, one swimsuit at a time.

Are you a girly girl?
Kimberley Gordon: I’m probably the girliest girl you will ever meet.

Which motifs show up every season?
Kimberley: The constant theme of Wildfox is friendship, and you’ll definitely always see that. We’re all in our early thirties here, and we have a lot of fun, so you see that reflected in the line and in our graphics. We have a lot of hangover shirts and just really funny tongue-in-cheek stuff, which is something everyone can relate to.

Where do all those the cheeky quotes that crop up on your T-shirts come from?
Kimberley: My head! One of the things that people really react to in our line is the conversation-starters. This year, we’ve even collaborated with Mattel on some quotes.

Are your offices covered in pink and staffed with besties?
Leilani Shimoda: It’s a lot of girls—probably 90 percent women. And we’re really social, so celebrating birthdays can be really fun.
Kimberley: When I broke up with my boyfriend, the team set up tents and we roasted marshmallows. It’s really nice working with your friends, but it’s rare that you have time to do things like that. People have this illusion that designers lead really glamorous lives, but it’s hard work, and you barely get to see the sunlight.

How did Leilani join the Wildfox team?
Kimberley: Leilani and I went to high school together, and her younger sister is one of my close friends. I knew that she was very creative and extremely talented, so I kind of stole her from the company that she was at.
Leilani: It was near the latter part of the recession. I was making good money, but I didn’t get to be as creative as I wanted. It was a dream to come on board here and collaborate with Kim. Intimates and loungewear have always been my greatest love, but I really enjoy wearing and designing swim.

Do you wear bikinis during a creative pow-wow?
Kimberley: I never wear a bikini in meetings, ever!
Leilani: In the summertime I do like to wear a one-piece with shorts. But I don’t wear bikinis to meetings.

What’s planned for 2015?
Kimberley: A fragrance with Elizabeth Arden. The scent is going to be really pretty, floral, and very classic. And we’ve got a great muse for the campaign, which will launch over the next two months. Then we’ve got our very first Wildfox store opening at Sunset Plaza in West Hollywood! It’s styled like a little house inside, with a champagne bar in the back and an outdoor tea garden. It’s not just shopping; it’s going to be the whole Wildfox experience.

Do you give your models any pre-show instructions?
Leilani: We don’t want the girls taking the runway too seriously, because let’s be honest, this is not Milan. Once we tell them that they can smile and do a little dance, the models just love it, and it all comes together at the actual show.
Kimberley: Miami is super different from any other runway show because the girls are wearing bikinis, and they’re really confident. Girls in Miami love showing off, unlike models in New York, who are so blasé about being in their underwear.

When it comes to planning your catwalk, what do you think about first?
Kimberley: We get model packages early because models get reserved fast, and it can be a bit of a fight for some girls. We’re trying to cast the show before we get to Miami this season. We always have girls who can’t make it at the last minute, so we’re really trying to keep on top of it this year.

What should we expect from your show?
Kimberley: The swimwear was really inspired by supermodels of the ’90s, like Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Niki Taylor, and Elle Macpherson. This year is all about the power girl!
Leilani: It’s the best bikini line we’ve done.

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