Belgian-born designer Annelies De Rouck understands the difficulties women face when it comes to what can be considered a stressful ordeal—shopping for the perfect swimsuit. She discovered that when she asked her friends about their favorite swimwear brands, great suits would be found and used until they fell apart. When it came time to find a new swimsuit, their favorite styles were often discontinued. “I realized that there is not that much consistency in fit at most brands and that women were really looking for that,” De Rouck explains. “As a result, women don’t seem to be loyal to one or two go-to brands. They spend a lot of time shopping around, often with disappointing results.”
Enter Seilenna (the designer’s name spelled backward, pronounced “say-LEN-na”), founded by De Rouck in 2012, a swimwear line that emphasizes fit and consistency and combines the world’s most luxurious technical fabrics with innovative design to create flattering silhouettes. The designer and her team devoted much of their time working with what De Rouck calls “the Rolls-Royce of swimwear fabric mills in Italy,” to ensure the delivery of high-quality designs. The fabrics of her swimwear are soft and luxurious, don’t pill or snatch, and retain their color.
De Rouck works with highly skilled artisans from France and Mauritius to produce her line. Through contacts in the Antwerp fashion scene, she was able to find an experienced patternmaker in France who taught her everything she needed to know about swimwear, and who had a good working relationship with a factory in Mauritius. When De Rouck met the team there and showed her product over dinner, she knew they were the right fit when they enthusiastically analyzed her swimsuits in the middle of a full restaurant. “As a young brand, you have to rely on the goodwill of these companies,” she says. “A lot of the people I work with usually only work with big brands, but they work with Seilenna because they see something in the brand or the people behind it—not because they make much money from me.”
With an extensive background in fashion, De Rouck previously worked as a model during her university days in London and subsequently in PR, marketing, communications, and sales for prominent companies like Karl Lagerfeld’s denim brand, K Karl Lagerfeld, and Tommy Hilfiger. However, it was her work with the Belgian American Chamber of Commerce that inspired her to start her own line. Her job was to help Belgian entrepreneurs find their footing in the United States, and she discovered that many of those entrepreneurs were not unlike herself. She recalls, “They were young and eager, but not necessarily super experienced or well funded. At one point I just thought, If they can do it, why not me?”
The Resort 2015 début collection shows the extensive work put into research and production by De Rouck and her team. The theme of honoring the females in her life was at the heart of the collection, from her patternmakers and production people to her close friends. Three friends in particular—Esther, Laila, and Isa—served as namesakes and contributed their individual personalities and styles. “I would question them about their swimwear preferences and really took care to incorporate all their needs into my collections,” De Rouck explains. “I thought it was important that they would all find themselves in my collection.”
De Rouck also collaborates with the French illustrator Coco to create exclusive prints for the brand, combining traditional techniques like painting and drawing with digital applications to create a harmonious balance of minimalism and pop-friendly aesthetics.
“I wanted to create a line that would marry fashion and exciting design with great technical functionality and fit. I also wanted to offer a brand in which women can find themselves season after season, tweaking and improving fits and adding fashion pieces, but remaining consistent,” explains De Rouck. With these tenets in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if Seilenna becomes the staple swimwear brand for many women for many years to come.
For more information, please visit Seilenna.com.
Alexandra Sarabia is a freelance writer and assistant brand coordinator for New York-based innovative knitwear label, KOTOBA.
Styling by Jessica dos Remedios. Makeup by Emi Kaneko. Hair by Edward Lampley at D+V. Model: Alana Bunte at The Lions. Manicure by Kayo at De Facto using Chanel Le Vernis. Casting by Edward Kim at The Edit Desk. Photographer’s assistant: Peter Duong. Stylist’s assistant: Jaclyn Bloomfield.