We are thrilled to introduce you to swimwear brand, Change of Scenery, and their Founder, Jamie Banks, in this Q&A interview! This brand offers high-quality fabrics, sustainable materials and is especially perfect for those who want a bit more coverage (like moms!). Learn all about this brand in this Q&A below and make sure to scroll to the bottom to discover our favorite pieces from their latest collection. *Use code STYLETHATBINDS for 10% off on their website
What led you to start Change of Scenery?
I have always loved the swim category because it’s such a joyful space. Anytime a woman needs a bathing suit it’s for a wonderful reason filled with leisure, friends, family and good times. But in the 20 years I have been designing for other brands, I always felt like there was so little product in the market designed with sophisticated women aged 30-55 in mind, at an accessible price – women like me and my friends. There are lots of great products targeting 20-somethings that are quite sexy, or skimpy, and then it jumps to modesty swim. But there is so little in the middle. I became passionate about the idea of designing the perfect suits to make these women feel sexy and chic, but also appropriate, and most importantly to be able to move throughout their busy day. And I felt like I was the right person to do it. And that’s how Change of Scenery was born.
What did you do before starting Change of Scenery?
I have been a fashion designer for 20 years, and I have been lucky enough to work for fantastic and iconic brands. I started my career in Milan, Italy at Corso Como 10 working for the legendary Carla Sozanni. When I moved back to NY I worked for Gwen Stefani and her brand L.A.M.B. which was an amazing experience. And then I spent the past 15 years overseeing women’s ready-to-wear at Kate Spade, Milly and Shoshanna. I loved every single one of those experiences, and I’m so lucky to be able to say I have loved going to work every single day.
How is Change of Scenery different from other swimwear brands?
I’m not sure how obvious this is to women outside the industry, but many accessible luxury and luxury swim brands were founded by swim models, socialites or influencers. So what this ends up looking like in the market is suits designed for women with the proverbial “perfect body” who, in marketing especially, are shown on an tropical island with not a care or a young child in sight, and this is just so far from most women’s reality! Me, my friends – we take care of ourselves and we work out, but we are post-baby or babies, we are running around constantly hostessing, and chasing kids, we never even get to sit on a lounge chair at the beach or a pool party, much less be alone on a tropical island! And we want to look tasteful and appropriate but also feel amazing and put together and sexy and comfortable all at the same time. That is to say, the most important thing I knew would be different about Change of Scenery is that I would never lose sight of the woman I am designing for and all the things she needs her Resortwear to be in her real life.
What really sets us apart is the design, the flawless fit, the modern prints and gorgeous color, and the coordinating suits and coverups that make it so easy for her to pack and get dressed.
I have been lucky enough to meet hundreds of our customers at in-person shopping events this past year, and the in-person customer interaction is invaluable. Customers are constantly telling me why they do or do not like the suits on themselves, or what they would love to see next. Every style in the new collections is something the customers asked for time and again – a one shoulder, a swim skirt. My customers are like my extended design team!
Will you tell us about the fit of your swimsuits?
Our styles are designed to feature what she is happy to show off, and cover-up the bits she consistently doesn’t love. For example, many women love a plunge neckline and that is why our Niki One Piece is our number one style. Most of our styles have removable bust pads so that she can personalize the suit to her needs. There is built in bust support including boning and strong elastic, and I am excited to introduce underwire in our next collection. All styles have three layers of lining and so much beautiful construction built in. The middle layer is a power compression mesh across the torso on all of our one pieces and bikini bottoms. Adjustable straps are important. Our high waist bottoms are the best fitting you’ll find, we hear that quite often! And we only have one type of cheek coverage – full coverage.
Anything to note about the fabrication?
Yes! Every swimsuit is made from Repreve®, a polyester fiber made entirely of recycled plastic. Repreve® primarily sources from post-consumer plastic bottles—billions of them. Instead of ending up in landfills and oceans, they get repurposed into fabulous garments—exactly like our Change of Scenery swimsuits! The great news is that our signature recycled swim fabric is also gorgeous – super soft, feels amazing on, quick-drying, and takes color so beautifully!
Our apparel collection is made in organic cotton. Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals, leaving the soil, air, and water free from contaminants that cause harm. It uses far less water to grow since organic cotton farmers typically utilize rain far more than irrigation. It’s also super soft and high-quality.
Will you walk us through the design process?
A new collection always starts with print and color for me. I choose our prints from artists, and I have a few I love working with. When I see a print that feels right I just know it. I love bright gorgeous colors and jewel tones. From the print, I extract solid colors. I choose fabrics – always our signature recycled swim fabric, and then some textures as well. Once that is all landed, I start designing new styles, which is a very easy process because I can just refer to my notes of requests from customers. Then it’s about taking what they’ve asked for and making it the best style and also the best fit and construction for that style. I work with my factory partner to make prototype samples and that is how the collection takes shape. Swim is unique in the womenswear industry because it is a very big recut business. Your best sellers never go away – they just come in new colors and prints. Different from ready-to-wear, a customer is likely to buy a suit she loves in several prints and/or colors. So those styles continue to have a place in the new collection, and the assortment grows with the new styles.
Is Change of Scenery sustainable?
We are! I knew that if I was going to start a brand, and put more products into the world, that I had a responsibility as a business owner to consider sustainable business practices as much as I could and reduce our environmental impact wherever possible. It also makes good business sense to become sustainable since I truly believe that customers are expecting more from the brands they support.
I set out from the beginning to think about reducing our impact in a few key ways:
First – I knew for certain that I wanted to use recycled swim fabrics and organic cotton in our product. Most people don’t realize this, but those fabrics cost as much as double a similar fabric quality made from virgin materials. But I also wanted the suits to be priced under $200, so of course the factories tried to convince me that I couldn’t have both. I kept pushing and we eventually did make it happen. I am very proud of that.
Our packaging – from our mailers, to our tissue paper, notecards, hangtags, labels – is all made from recycled materials and/or is recyclable. We work with EcoEnclose® and noissue® to create all of our packaging, who are leading the way with innovation in recycled packaging.
And finally, at Change of Scenery we prioritize high quality & timeless design.
These are garments that are specifically designed with long-term use in mind. They may be a bit more expensive up front, but our suits are worth it as the cost per wear or cost per use actually lowers the true cost to below zero over time. These are styles that will last for years to come.
What are the top swimwear trends for Summer 2023?
We are seeing a lot more hardware incorporated into designs – which can likely be attributed to Y2K-inspired themes making a comeback. Also, interesting yet subtle details like a tie that make the swimwear more flattering. Innovation in fabrics is also big – unique textures, metallics, etc.!
Any unexpected bright spots from lockdown you’d like to share?
Spending more time with my husband and my family for sure. I met so many wonderful women in town and have so many new friendships that came out of that time and being “in it” together, just trying to get through pandemic parenting and virtual school. And of course, the silver lining is that I had the time and space to write a business plan and start this incredible Change of Scenery journey.
How did you choose the name?
It took quite a long time to land on the name Change of Scenery, but once we did I knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. It’s a common phrase that everyone identifies with – everyone needs and deserves a Change of Scenery now and then, and this woman I am serving, she doesn’t do enough for herself. I wanted to start out with a name and a brand and product that all together would life women up, remind them to focus on themselves once in a while – whether that’s a walk around the block, a drink with friends, or a vacation. And that if her life is likely consumed with taking care of others, she deserves a fabulous new look for that vacation that makes her feel like a million bucks.
How often do you come out with new collections?
Swim is a very seasonal business. We plan to deliver three collections a year. The swim year starts with Resort, which delivers in November or December before the holidays. Then there is a Spring collection before Spring Break. And a Summer collection before Memorial Day.
Do you have items besides swimwear?
We sure do! As versatility is key for our customer, our collection is designed to easily mix and match our easy, breezy apparel collection with coordinating swimsuits, offering easy dressing and packing, chic modesty, and wardrobe flexibility.
Our styles can be worn together as a set — a perfectly coordinated outfit that requires no thought. Our skirts and pants can be paired with any bikini top as easily as a sweater or t-shirt. Our dresses are designed to be worn belted, unbelted, or open over a swimsuit.
What’s next for you?
So many exciting things are coming up! Our new Summer collection comes out in a few weeks and we are launching on Nordstrom.com which is a real pinch-me moment! The new collection has three styles that were designed for bust support, and they are amazing. We also have a new recycled textured swim fabric coming out, and beautiful tortoise and metal hardware!
Where can people find you?
Discover Change of Scenery’s Summer 2023 collection:
Alison + Delia