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The Journey of a New Swimwear Brand

I started Donna Leah Designs because I found empowerment in wearing what I loved. It turns out that what I love most comes from various inspirations, including Old Hollywood films, art, nature and the magical city of Miami, Florida. What surprised me the most along the way was the feedback and feelings of confidence that women had when wearing the brand. This made me realize my own inner strength and our shared desire to feel confident in how we express ourselves to the world through what we wear.

My first collection — and what remains my biggest passion — is evening wear. When the global pandemic came, it was time to realize the challenge and find positivity in opportunity. This meant taking my love of everything evening wear, like shine, glamour and sophistication, and translating it into pieces that fit a new way of living and working. The Donna Leah Designs loungewear and denim jacket collections were born and feature signature brand elements inspired by apparel traditionally worn in the evening. Because we maintained our brand identity throughout the process, the feedback has been highly favorable.

Positive feedback with the loungewear and denim collections has allowed me to focus on Donna Leah Designs’ next venture. Since it’s always time for swimsuits in Miami, Florida, where the company is based, the time felt right to launch something fresh and new. When we think of swimwear, we imagine exotic beaches like Tulum, Mexico; Bali or the South of France. But truly no city has the energy, international vibe or influence of art and design like Miami. 

As the country begins to open up once again, murmurings of when we will be able to congregate poolside are beginning to surface. Since the founding of Donna Leah Designs, we listen to our customers and what they are seeking. The debut of the first official Donna Leah Designs swimwear collection is in many ways its own category of apparel. I like to think of it as “poolside party wear.”

This new collection is meant for women who want to be seen and who have a passion for evening wear and dressing up with a sense of glamour, sunglasses and cocktails in hand, looking fabulous. This collection is for the way we live now — Instagrammable moments, getting back to getting together and poolside parties. Once I started designing with my team, I knew immediately that the silhouettes would make waves!

There is an element of exclusivity in the designs — for now. Our goal is to provide customers with pieces that are truly unique and cannot be found anywhere else. The selections are only available in small quantities on a limited-edition basis. The new swim styles can be purchased directly from our website and through direct message on Instagram.

This is a category that I have been thinking about since the inception of the brand, but it wasn’t until the realization of our place within the swimwear category that I knew we had to move forward. I want people to be obsessed with the line because of the unique, hand-sewn appliqués, on-trend colors and unique silhouettes. Most of all, I want people to look at just one piece and think of Miami.

Miami is defined by the beach and the ocean — not only in geographical terms, but in the colors that are everywhere that you look. It is defined by the sunsets, the sand, the pinks and blues of the buildings and the high-energy international vibe that the city has come to own. From South Beach to Brickell, fashion is colorful with hues that are the perfect mix of the tropics and glamour. Without question, the new collection embraces the blues of the sky and ocean, greens of the breathtaking foliage, pinks of the sunsets and yellows of the bright afternoon sun.

When launching the new collection, it was important to keep specific nuances in mind. Miami may be relaxed, yet its people expect the highest levels of service and excellence in everything, from beach clubs and restaurants to their fashion choices. We embraced luxurious materials that enhance the exclusivity of our collection offered to a discerning clientele. As a brand, we communicate luxury with a focus on extravagant fabrics, flattering designs and attention to details that create a truly special look.

Similar to the ways the cape or shawl found on Donna Leah Designs’ gowns empowers the wearer, swimsuits from the brand are meant to be fulfilling even when sitting solo and reading a book, enjoying nature or relaxing. It’s perfect for those who are lucky enough to have a pool or love relaxing on a city rooftop. The designs are meant to inspire creativity with styling and incorporate pieces into outfit planning. It’s for the woman that wants to look fabulous and feel like her best self no matter who else is in the room.

For right now, the collection will include swimwear with chic cover-ups almost certainly ready to launch before the end of the season — which almost never ends.

Donna Leah is founder of Donna Leah Designs, a brand focused on gowns and accessories for women who embrace their individuality. A graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), the American designer is based in Miami, Florida, where the dynamic energy of the city sparks her concepts. Find out more at donnaleahdesigns.com.

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