(NEW YORK) Think your Friday commute’s rough? Australian sister act Nicky and Simone Zimmermann trekked all the way from Sydney to spend a weekend out East. Known for its sexy swimsuits, their label, Zimmermann, is showing ready-to-wear in New York for the first time this fall. They took a break from the pool to give us the lowdown.
BY EDDIE ROCHE
Have you visited this neck of the woods before?
Nicky: We shot a swim campaign in Montauk with our friend Ben Watts one season. We feel a connection to that area, in particular. It kind of reminds us of Australia, even though it looks nothing like it.
Simone: It has that same sort of feel. The people are very relaxed.
Is there an Australian equivalent of the Hamptons?
Nicky: In Sydney, it would be Palm Beach, and in Victoria, it would be Sorrento. Palm Beach is about an hour’s drive outside Sydney, so it’s very easy for people to go to on the weekends. It’s different in that it’s quite tropical, with lush palm trees.
How’s the traffic in Palm Beach?
Nicky: Not bad.
Simone: What’s she talking about? It’s sooo bad.
How did you get into swimwear?
Nicky: We grew up in a hard-core surfing area with a grungy surf culture. There was a woman who had a business called Benz Bikinis in the Eighties that made crochet bikinis, and everybody had them. I remember as a kid thinking that that was a really cool business. Funny how things turn out!
Twenty years of being in business together is pretty impressive. Congrats!
Simone: Well, Australia’s a much smaller market. It’s a bit easier, but we still constantly want to improve. We have 17 stores in Australia and sell at all the major department stores there. The goal is to grow our U.S. business in the same way that our Australian business has grown.
Nicky: Simone takes care of the business side and I’m on the design end. We’ve lasted a long time because we always want to get better. At home, many of our customers bought their first bikini from us when they were 16, and then their prom dress and then their honeymoon dress, so we are linked to happy memories.
What’s your work relationship like?
Simone: I’m very lucky to be able to do what I love work-wise, but to also be able to do it with my sister. Not everybody has that opportunity and not all relationships work that way. Sisters can have a wonderfully strong bond but then hate each other. We’re not like that, thank God. It’s definitely unusual. We’ve had some terrific fights, of course, but not in recent years.
Who is the Zimmermann girl?
Nicky: She’s interested in print and color. There is a certain vibrancy and optimism in what we do—it’s sexy, but not overtly so. Our core customer is between 25 and 35, usually a professional, and more often than not in a creative field. This September, we’ll be showing at the Tents for the first time and opening our biggest store in the world in Manhattan. That’s when the brand picture will really fill out.
Are you together 24/7?
Simone: We have friends in common and hang on the weekends, and our kids are similar ages, but we don’t hang out all the time. A whole day can go by and I don’t see Nicky. Our mom will call and tell us something and assume we’ll tell the other one, but we’re always reminding her that she has to call us both!
PLUS! A handy Aussie to English translator…
Cozzie = Swimsuit
Tinny = Can of beer
Budgy smuggler = Thong swimsuit
Esky = Cooler
Grog = Booze
Icy pole = Popsicle
Dag = Dork