Alexandra Cassaniti's retro-cool athletic gear is suitable for more than just the beach. While her line of surfer swimsuits and neoprene leggings are pragmatic on the shores, her version of the ubiquitous backpack is right at home on the urban streets (that's right, New Yorker's!). After working as the head women's wear designer for Steven Alan, Cassaniti went solo in 2008 to debut her Summer I collection. Based out of Los Angeles, Cassaniti brings us 4 collections a year and each is aptly titled: Summer I, Summer II Summer III and Summer IV because, hey, it's always summer somewhere. Kind of a consoling thought as we move into our final weeks of August...
Your collections are based on the fact that it is always Summer somewhere. Where's your favorite place to spend the summer?
I really love Southern California in the summer. The water is warm, you can surf in a bikini and watch the sunset.
Those swim suits remind us of classic athletic gear and old school kid's bathing suits (and they are reversible!). Where are you pulling inspiration for your designs?
Perhaps they call to mind kid's bathing suits because my suits are made for running around and playing in. They are playful, and I want to encourage playing well with others and being playful. They also ARE athletic gear!
Clearly the materials you use are unusual -- obviously neoprene -- but also the canvas you employ is seriously heavy duty. Is it difficult to translate your designs using these materials?
My goal is to make objects that are never thrown away. There should be no reason anything I make will ever be placed in a garbage can followed by landfill. I do lean towards seriously heavy duty because I want my items to last and work forever. The canvas I printed on this season is an untreated 18 oz natural cotton.
It is not difficult to translate my designs with these materials because my designs are about getting through the everyday hardships and making it appear effortless: You need to carry a weeks worth of produce, a computer, a change of clothes and be able to find your wallet without looking? Please use one of my bags! Or you are a fashionable lady hanging out on the beach and you don't want to be mistaken as a seal? Please wear one of my wet suits.
Any other sporty materials you've been eyeing?
I'm really into glow in the dark everything, and anything reflective!
Backpacks are re-surging as a must have accessory. What do you think is the appeal of this style?
Maybe it is because we want to have the option to carry more stuff. We are a culture that is about carrying more, and being ready to carry more if more stuff presents itself. We also can then hug anyone we come across at any given time with out having to put our bag down. We are embracing our need to hug one another.
Lastly, any good styling tips for rocking neoprene for East Coasters (umm, New Yorkers specifically)?
Wear heels, wear boots, wear confidence!
Published at 7:34 AM EDT on Aug 18, 2009