Demi Raquel Thomas is not a newcomer when it comes to launching a fashion brand. Thomas, who studied at Parsons School of Design, launched her first nationwide fashion startup in 2013 and honed her skills of networking and developing strategic partnership and fell in love with manufacturing, developing and designing products in the fashion industry.
Now, with over 10 years of experience in developing fashion brands, she is on to her next exciting venture as CEO and co-founder of La Chenille Bridal Bikini, a new luxury lifestyle brand for brides on the beach. Designed specifically for women who want swimwear pieces to match the idyllic settings of beach and resort weddings, vow renewals and anniversaries, the brand offers swimwear, coverups, hair accessories and a beach kit, introducing “bridal swimwear” as a new fashion category.
“My passion for wanting to present something new and unique to the world, something that no one else was doing is what led me to break the mold,” said Thomas.
La Chenille Bridal Bikini was born from a conversation between Thomas and her business partner, Nikan Mangani, who worked at a company that specialized in swimwear design. Mangani mentioned to Thomas that brides continuously asked for bridal swimwear, and it was during this conversation that they decided that this was a market that they could fulfill.
“La Chenille Bridal Bikini has the most immediate impact in the destination wedding market,” said Thomas, when asked how she sees the brand changing the wedding industry. With an increased number of micro-weddings, “mini-monies” and elopements taking place due to COVID-related restrictions, the brand strives to be a go-to for brides who want to add more elegance and class to their beach or resort wedding settings.
The brand, which is based in Huntington Beach, California, began two years ago — but due to COVID-19, its launch was delayed. During this pause, Thomas and Mangani reflected on what they wanted La Chenille Bridal Bikini to be; they want to ensure that the brand does not just exist in the bridal swimwear space, but that it is looked at as the category leader due to their product and company culture standards. With La Chenille Bridal Bikini, Thomas says that she has placed a priority on philosophy, creating a brand that creates luxurious products that empower women to feel beautiful and proud of who they are.
The word chenille means caterpillar in French, and chenille is a woven fabric that originated in France. That said, the brand hopes to help women feel transformed and reborn when wearing a La Chenille Bridal Bikini Piece, as well as body positive and confident. “This type of confidence is something I believe that every women, no matter what her shape or size, should feel,” said Thom- as, “and this is what La Chenille Bridal Bikini strives to [create].”
In order to provide luxurious experiences to its brides, the brand has made the integrity of their factories and craftsmanship of their products a top priority — without high-end manufacturing on the backend, there would be no high-end product to present to the world, the brand said. Using sustainable fabrics, La Chenille Bridal Bikini creates bathing suits that will have brides looking elegant and glamorous with luxurious comfort and feel. Thomas sources and manufactures customized fabrics from all over the globe — including India, Turkey and Europe — and is focused on using fabrics that are not only sustainable, but also have wicking fibers that can withstand water, sand and moisture.
The brand’s first collection, which launched this fall, featured one- and two-piece bathing suits in a variety of cuts and styles, ranging from $600 to $2,000. The collection also featured three hair ac- cessories — a sun hat, bridal headband and swim cap — priced from $290 to $490, and a beach kit that includes body lotion, body oil and sunscreen priced at $160. The brand will also feature a removable bridal train, patent currently pending, that will be able to be worn with any of the brand’s swimsuits and coverups.
“I view expanding into skincare as something that goes hand in hand with La Chenille Bridal Bikini’s central mission and vision,” Thomas said. “As a luxury beach lifestyle brand, if [we] are going to provide beach brides with luxury swimwear, they will also need luxury beach skincare for traveling.”
La Chenille Bridal Bikini will host a launch event in November in New York City, after which the collection will be available for purchase online at lachenillebridalbikini.com, at trunk shows and several wedding boutiques throughout the United States. Follow the brand at @lachenillebridalbikini and @iamdemiraquelthomas on Instagram.