CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
It's the first day of summer and Rain Maiava soaks up rays in a camouflage bikini ($128) by Chelsea Gines for Pualani. It's one of 10 prints in the collaborative 2007 Summer collection. CLICK FOR LARGE
Suited for Summer
Can great swimwear be created in the middle of the Arizona desert?
Nineteen-year-old Chelsea Gines has built up enough memories of being on the beach in Hawaii to guide her in making the momentous move from her home in Kapolei to the Southwest tomorrow. It's a necessity, she says, to grow her business.
Her original plan was to move to Los Angeles, but her youth presented a problem. "I can't even rent a car there. You have to be 23 to do that."
Arizona presented a nice compromise, set between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, another of her dream markets. The cost of rent just outside Phoenix, in a complex with a swimming pool, is lower than either of the two destination cities, and, she says, it's not too much of a stretch to find a market for her swimwear in Arizona.
"They have a lot of lakes and rafting so they have a lot of great swimwear stores there," said Gines, who can't imagine not fitting in. Fit is key to her designs, created under the name Chelsea Gines for Pualani, a local swimwear company noted for its curve-hugging four-way stretch fabrics.
Gines made her mark at age 16 by selling her custom-cut T-shirts out of her mom JoDee Gines' store Pink C. Among her fans was Pualani Hawaii owner Iwalani Isabell.
"We started talking and decided to do a project together," said Gines, who was attracted to Pualani's reputation for fit, fabric and flattering cuts.
"A lot of bikini companies don't use the best fabric and elastic so the fit is gonna change after every wash," Gines said. "With other companies stitching can fall apart, the lining's not good, things are just not done right.
"I grew up in the surf so I have a good eye for fit and know what the needs are. I'm already getting good feedback about my suits so I must be doing something right."
Her Summer 2007 collection is hitting local swimwear boutiques now, and features nautical themes in 10 prints with a combination of stars and stripes that also are perfect for Fourth of July beach or pool parties.
The suits can be cut to individual boutique specifications -- from skimpy to full bottom coverage -- to suit their particular clientele. But don't hold your breath looking for fuller suits here. In local boutiques, "smaller cuts do best," Gines said.
In Hawaii, look for the Chelsea Gines by Pualani collection at Pink C on Oahu, Bikini Run on Kauai and Honolua Surf Co.