Surf’s up, ladies! Aside from a nice board, you might also want to have a great outfit to express yourself out there on the waves or on the beach. I was looking for a rashguard that’s pretty and practical at the same time, and my search had been rather disappointing until I came across Seea. It was love at a first sight, and I had to hold myself back from buying the Doheny Rashguard in every color. All made in sunny California, the products will protect you from burning with sun protective fabrics.
Founder and designer Amanda Chinchelli Greer translated her love of surfing into the Seea, a brand which evokes the spirit of aloha with unique retro chic designs and seeababes – “We are women… We are the graceful sliders of the Seea.” Amanda explains the name Seea comes from her love for the sea, and her Italian accent shapes it into a ‘see-ah’. We caught up with Amanda as she was taking off for a surf trip (without a laptop!) to recharge before the new collection comes out, which I’m sure will be as inspiring and beautiful as everything else about the brand.
LF: Can you tell us how Seea was born, and what keeps it going?
AC: Seea was born out of necessity. I needed a suit to wear while surfing that was functional and stylish. I designed a couple of suits, sewed them and brought them with me to a surf trip in Costa Rica. I was so happy, I could move freely, had sun protection and most importantly I felt good in them. I knew I was onto something and I had to share it with the world. I decided to start with a small run of production and show them to the local surf shops. Their reaction was wonderful and their support is what gave me the push to make this happen.
LF: What made you decide to produce locally?
AC: I have been working as a freelance designer for many years now and I always worked with overseas manufacturing. In principal the process is easy: Create your design, send a sample with a sketch and a technical description, and they get back to you with available fabrics, pricing, and a timeline. There are still headaches involved, but since the factories do all the sourcing for you, it takes a huge amount of work off your shoulders. Although you’re more removed from the creative process this way, it’s definitely tempting to just design through a computer screen and just hand it off to somebody else.
With Seea, I wanted the process to be completely different. I want to see with my own eyes, touch different fabrics, dig for trims and only be limited by myself. I changed my way of designing. I now start with falling in love with fabrics and colors and then combining them together in a sketch. I draft most of my patterns then sew the samples. I enjoy it so much. I can finally work with my hands again.
The manufacturing side of it is exhausting, I don’t think people know how many steps there are to produce every single garment. But for me is so extremely important to know who is making my stuff, where all the pieces come from, and of course I want to support domestic production. I am blessed to be living in California and the least I can do is give some back through producing locally. Los Angeles is an incredible place and I extremely proud of having my suits made here.
LF: What are Seea’s most popular designs and do you have a favorite piece yourself?
AC: All of the long sleeve suits are very popular, I think because people really needed them. The unique swim shirts/rashguards usually sell out pretty quickly and are definitely our best sellers. It is really hard to say which one I prefer as of course I love them all, but I think my favorite is still the Hermosa One piece.
LF: How does the SPF protection work in the fabrics that you use?
AC: SPF (or UPF for clothing) changes with each fabric, and is determined by it’s color, weave, composition, and weight. As my designs usually involve at least two to three different fabrics, often mixing solids with prints, it becomes very difficult to give each suit a specific rating. Currently, we use only high quality, four way stretch, swim specific lycra, which carry ratings between 30+ and 50+. To put this in perspective, a UPF rating of 50 indicates the fabric of a garment will allow only 1/50th (or roughly 2%) of available UV radiation to pass through it. For Spring 14 we’ll be creating our own custom prints on fabrics imported from Italy, which should allow us to claim ratings of 50+ across the board.
LF: You’ve collaborated with several brands already, do you have anything new in the works that you can tell us about?
AC: So many new things in the horizon! We have a neoprene collaboration with Reunion Wetsuits coming out this summer, a super fun mini collection for Thalia Surf Shop on tap for June, several unique swim tops and exclusive designs for Japanese stores Ron Herman and United Arrows Japan coming this Spring, and a special rash guard for Surf Bazaar in Montauk to top it all off. We also have some top secret plans for a collab shoe pack with a very iconic, California-based footwear brand which we’ll be revealing at the Launch LA tradeshow in Santa Monica this July.
LF: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
AC: All over the place. Nature, online, traveling, thrift shopping, dreaming and of course surfing.
LF: Who are the other designers or style icons you admire?
AC: Currently I am absolutely in love with the duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli for Valentino. Their past collections have been so chic, dreamy and timeless, they make me think a lot of Italy and how much I owe to my country.
LF: Seea is a family run business, what are the biggest challenges and biggest rewards?
AC: Yes, Seea is currently me, my husband, and my brother. The biggest reward is trust. The biggest challenge is space. Our living room is constantly full of boxes, samples and pattern paper.
LF: Where did you shoot the new Seea lookbook and video? Looks like you had tons of fun!
AC: Well, 90% percent of our stuff is shot at our house or down the street from our house. The surf in the lookbook was shot in Cardiff by the Sea.
LF: How often do you surf?
AC: A lot. It depends on the swell and on how busy I am with production, but some weeks I surf every day, some weeks just couple days, but it’s rare to not surf for a whole week.
LF: What are you favorite surf spots in CA and around the world?
AC: San Onofre for the history that it carries and the good vibes. Bolinas for the wonderful memories of living in San Francisco. S’Archittu for the unforgettable sessions with my Italian Seeababes.
LF: If you could take off right now and travel, where would you go?
AC: I am leaving tomorrow for Mexico to test the new Spring 14 collection in the warm water. But if I could take off again after coming back from Mexico, I would go back to Florence to have dinner with my family.
LF: How fast do you live?
AC: Lately, extremely fast, maybe too fast. The only time I slow down is when I surf. Thank God for the ocean!