As the spring season begins to warm up, a variety of swimwear looks emerge. In Mallorca, travelers flock towards the sea in bright florals. Further down the coast, other vacationers are adorned in a collection of fast-fashion looks, many of whom believe that the flamingo print is a national treasure. For years, men have been stuck with fluorescent off-the-rack options that lack simplicity and substance; a quick grab from the local market for an afternoon swim. But it’s here, in the small alcoves away from tourist hubs, that MARÈA MARÉA aims to elevate sunseekers with a more subtle coolness, a sophisticated trunk that provides breathability and ease all-in-one. The goal was to create swimwear that resembled resortwear that men would wear at the restaurant and at the beach.
The journey to market began 3 years ago. Back in New York, founder Christian Blanchet started the process of collecting the best swim trunks available from retailers like Mr. Porter and SSENSE. With help from designer colleagues, Blanchet deconstructed each trunk and put it back together, keeping bits and pieces of what he liked and scrapping the rest. It was imperative that he got the fit, size, and feel just right. Eventually Blanchet solidified the pattern and began the search for the perfect fabric.
This was at a time when Blanchet was still in grad school at NYU Stern. During his final years, he met his business partner who urged him to go all-in. Together they executed a plan to bring MARÈA MARÉA to market, and began sourcing materials and fabrics from around the US and Europe. The idea was to build a one-trunk prototype, something that would represent the brand’s quality and focus. Unhappy with the way the trunks felt, Blanchet took an extended trip to Portugal where he met with Lemar, a premium fabric mill that produced SEAQUAL, which is a recycled polyester that feels as soft as cotton but has high durability and quick dry properties.
Blanchet brought the fabric from Portugal and met with his local manufacturer in Long Island, New York, a small family-run business that operated with small batches. The two spent the next year crafting what would soon become the MARÈA MARÉA signature trunk.
“I lived about two miles away from the manufacturer at the time,” Blanchet says. “So I would bike over there once a week to check in and oversee the process.”
And while Blanchet was new to swimwear, he’s long been a part of the fashion world. He spent the last 10 years working for brands like Theory and Mackage, helping them with their wholesale operations in North America. It was during his time at Theory that he felt a pull towards disrupting the men’s swimwear market in a way that would fill the void.
“I have this photograph of my dad and I at the beach,” Blanchet tells me. “It was probably the mid-90s, and he looks like the coolest guy in the world. He has these simple black trunks on, sunglasses, and a silver bracelet. That’s always been what I’ve wanted to recreate with MARÈA MARÉA.”
Meaning tide in English, the name MARÈA MARÉA reminds Blanchet of always “being in motion.” It’s the foundation for the brand’s ethos, something that Blanchet is sentimental towards. “I love the idea of men wearing our brand in far-off remote places rather than in the traditional hotspots,” Blanchet says. “A guy who knows the local spots, and doesn’t feel the need to stand out in the crowd.”
At the beginning of 2023, MARÈA MARÉA released their matching camp collar shirt to accompany their signature short. Made from the same SEAQUAL material with a slightly oversized fit, the camp collar shirt was a step into resortwear, an arena that the brand will be expanding on in the future. In May of 2023, MARÈA MARÉA will begin production on their second short with a brand new fabric. A short that Blanchet says will offer versatility that the avid traveler needs, but with an aesthetic nod to vintage running shorts of the 80s and 90s.
The long-term strategy, though, is to build the company into a full-fledged, community-focused swimwear and resortwear brand that offers premium products for both men and women. It’ll be about the experience as much as the product, one that will take the consumers along for the ride to new exotic locations each season.
To shop the latest from MARÈA MARÉA, you can visit their shop here.