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Creating the Universal Swim Brand

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We sometimes get asked whether the Universal Swim board shorts we carry are related in any way to Universal Gear. Here's a quick snippet about how that brand came about:

Since my family is from Brazil, I usually visit Rio once or twice a year to spend some time with the folks (and to catch some rays at Ipanema beach, of course). Given the beach culture, Rio has tons of fantastic swimwear brands--including Blueman (read more about them here). The brand features bikinis, squarecuts and board shorts with great colors and designs. Given the popularity of the suits I brought back for friends, David (Universal Gear's President) and I decided to take a trip down to explore importing them to the US to be sold at Universal Gear stores.

The meetings with Blueman were fantastic and by the last day of the trip, we had ordered hundreds of suits for our Spring 2003 collection. During that same trip, David and I took some time to hit street fairs that featured clothing and accessories from local designers. Most of booths we visited couldn't supply us with the quantities we needed, or just didn't have the breadth of merchandise to really make an impact. But just as we were leaving, we stumbled upon a booth featuring board shorts in bright colors with contrast stitching.

The company, as it turns out, specialized in wholesale manufacturing and liked the idea of partnering with us to create our own private label of board shorts. We spent much of the next day looking at fabric swatches and samples of the detailing touches we could use to set the brand apart (branded laces, tags, etc.). After months of tweaking and editing, we had a collection ready to launch.

Naming the collection was easy. We wanted to tie it to our corporate brand, but we didn't necessarily want to brand it as Universal Gear--partly because we also wanted to sell it to other stores. You might, in fact, have seen our board shorts in other great stores like All American Boy (Fire Island), Body Body (Provincetown), Bravo (Provincetown), Symbology (Ft. Lauderdale and Provincetown), Palm Produce (Miami) and Motley (Ogunquit).

Universal Swim is now our #1 brand of swimwear. With the popularity of board shorts increasing, the brand was able to fill a need for body conscious styles with clean lines and handsome color combinations. If you haven't already, check out pictures of our Spring photoshoot featuring these board shorts here.

In addition to the board shorts, we're also putting the finishing touches to our collection of cashmere blend sweaters (coming in October 06) and athletic-inspired crew and muscle shirts (coming in July 06).

-- Ricardo