Robin Ashford - Macy Interview
(Vin - T Bikini)
Robin Ashford – Macy has designed a new type of bikini using vintage material.
She will take an original Rock t-shirt and cut it into a bikini.
This idea is really catching on, particularly on the West Coast where her bikinis are sold at The Beverly Hills Bikini Shop in Beverly Hills, California.
Robin has been featured on CNBC’s “The Big Idea” with Donny Deutsch and in Miami Living Magazine.
Robin Ashford – Macy spoke about her novel concept for the bikini, and her co. Vin – T Bikini.
Q – I saw you on Donny Deutsch’s Show – “The Big Idea”. Now, Mr. Deutsch seemed almost obsessed with the thought of how to grow Vin – T Bikini. I’m thinking maybe you don’t want to be a big co. maybe you’re content with being a boutique co.
A – Oh, no, no, no. The goal was to definitely grow.
Q – I think he asked other panelists, “How do we get this woman’s business to a $50 million a year business”? and that’s what you want?
A – Definitely. I already know what to do. I already have all of that lined up. I just don’t have the funds for it right now.
Q – Do you have some kind of a shop on the West Coast?
A – No. I sell on the West Coast. I live in New York City, and that’s where I work. I manufacture in New York. I hand cut in New York. Everything is done in New York. I sell in Beverly Hills. I sell online. I sell in Montauck, New York. I sell in Scottsdale, Arizona, and then a small boutique in New York, in the city.
Q – Do people like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan come in to shop at The Beverly Hills Bikini Shop?
A – I’m sure they do. It’s like a one-stop shop for swim wear and they’re very popular. It’s one of the oldest swim wear shops in Beverly Hills. It’s very popular.
Q – Would that store tell you if they sold one of your bikinis to a celebrity? How would you find out?
A – I don’t even know if they would tell me. I talk to them all the time but, I don’t know if it’s confidential. I hand-delivered to Blake Lively of The Gossip Girls. She lives in the same building as my pattern maker. So, she had one. I did 3 for Mark Ramone, the drummer for The Ramones. I custom made bikinis for him for a large party he had.
Q – So, when you make the sale to a celebrity, you know who’s wearing your product. When someone else sells your product, you don’t know who’s wearing it?
A – No. They don’t mention anything to me. I don’t know if they would. I could ask them. I don’t know if they would.
Q – Knowing something like that would help your co. wouldn’t it?
A – Yeah. You know the thing with that is, it would be…..it just depends. I know they have movie stars do private appointments. So, I don’t know if it’s confidential. If a movie star comes, it’s always by appointment only and the store will be closed when that happens.
Q – You are a designer?
A – Yes.
Q – You sew?
A – I do.
Q – Do you have people designing and sewing for you?
A – No. The factory puts the suit together. I hand-cut them. I personally do that. They’re manufactured here in New York.
Q – You then have to go out and market these bikinis don’t you?
A – Yeah. A lot of foot work.
Q – Are there enough hours in the day for you to do all that?
A – No. (Laughs). Not at all.
Q – You believe your bikinis will go over in a Big Way in Japan and South America.
A – Yes.
Q – Why do you believe that?
A – First of all, Japan will eat this up in 2 seconds. I just have not had the time to do that right now. I know Spain is very interested. The distributing co. wants me to fly out in the next 3 weeks to meet with them so I can start distributing in Spain. Latin America is a bikini wearing place. Everyone follows the trend of the United States when it comes to certain clothing. And, the clothing that they follow is not necessarily the high, high fashion, like coming out of Paris, its stuff like-----this! The T-shirts. They follow rock bands. Everyone follows the United States rock bands or England. Led Zeppelin. Kiss. Whoever is like that they follow. The whole world follows it. So, the bikinis that I do falls right into that category. It would be just like another American thing.
Q – I saw handbags with The Beatles, The Doors and I can’t remember who else being sold at Kohl’s Department Store. That is the venue you’d like, isn’t it?
A – Oh, totally. I’ve been approved for licensing. Once I’m licensed I can mass produce. The agreement is it will never be in a Kohl’s or a Target or a Wal-Mart. The lowest would be a Macy’s – and that’s it. These (bikinis) are high end. It’s expensive to construct. These are hand-cut. The ones that would be mass produced won’t be necessarily that detailed like what I’m doing. It’s a lot of work. They won’t be in a Kohl’s. That’s part of the agreement. The licensing division that holds the license, they have made it specifically clear that as part of my contract I cannot be in anything less than a Macy’s. It’s one of those things-----women will go nuts over it.
Q – You don’t know what celebrities in Beverly Hills are wearing your bikini. What is your target market?
A – You always have to have a target market. So, for something like this because it is a bikini, the target market is 20-30. Automatically, you’re gonna do a target market like that. I’m selling to every age group. The highest is 50 years old. I had a woman come in, buy from me, here in New York. She tried it on, purchased it. She had a better body than me and I’m in good shape. She was like, ‘I’ll take it. I love it’. It was just nostalgic for her and she took it. And – that was it.
Q – What rock group’s name was on the bikini?
A – I think she took a Led Zeppelin. I don’t have any more Led Zeppelin because I’m now part of Wardrobe for Maxim Magazine, so I gave them the 1971 Tour which was a really big one for me to kind of hand over-----but, I did anyway. So, the range of people I’m selling to right now is just crazy. It’s from 14 to 48 years old to be solid numbers. Easy. Easy. Easy. More in the 40’s and 30’s. Solid.
Q – You’re doing your bikinis with classic bikinis. Would you do a bikini with one of today’s groups?
A – Sure. Definitely. If I find something that I like, and it’s new, I’ll definitely get it. For sure. If I can cut it and make it look sexy, it’s done. I buy it.
Q – When you use the name Led Zeppelin or Kiss on one of your bikinis, they have to get a percentage of the sales don’t they?
A – No, they don’t. These are not mass produced. They have been purchased twice. These are old shirts. You can do whatever you want once you’ve purchased a garment. So, what happens is, there’s this fine loophole. I’m buying used shirts.
Q – Finding old, used shirts has got to be very difficult.
A – That’s why they’re expensive. That’s why they’re one of a kind. That’s why they’re hand-cut. In case I do find two that are the same, I make them look different, and they’re nostalgic. So, this is like the couture line of Vin T Bikini. This is the top. These are hand-cut. One of a kind. I hand select each shirt. I personally do it. I feel the weight of it. Everything. I have to cut it a certain way and have a certain liner to keep it together so you can swim in it and insure minimal, minimal stretch. So, the next line that I do since I’ve been approved for licensing, the next line will be mass production of like let’s say Kiss. I say I want Kiss and Led Zeppelin. I want The Beatles. The Beatles is tough because I may not be able to be so free with The Beatles. And then Pink Floyd. I’ll just throw those four. Then I would mass produce those and that way they would be getting a percentage because I would be drawing up a legal document agreement. They’d be getting a certain percentage for my quarterly sales. Right now I don’t have to show anything.
Q – Where do you go to find these old tour shirts you’re now using?
A – That’s a secret. I go everywhere. I have a lot of people though, you know what happens? A lot of people call me especially after the Donny Deutsch Show and say, ‘Do you buy shirts? I have this. I have that. I have The Who. I have The Grateful Dead’. I send ‘em $100 for so many shirts. They’re grateful because they were gonna throw ‘em out anyway. They just made money. And that’s it. It’s been very Word-of-Mouth. Going to thrift stores in the cities, but, they’re expensive though so that’s why some of the bikinis; they’re all bikinis that I sell; it varies on the price of the t-shirt, that I purchase.
Q –Would you be able to buy from the merchandising cos. that sold the original t-shirts? Then you could buy in bulk that is if they have any extras around, and if the cos. are still in business.
A – Well, I can’t do that because legally I can’t go through a merchandiser and I can’t go through a manufacturer.
Q – So many rules, restrictions, and regulations!!
A – Yeah. On a legal level I can’t do that or I’d be sued. Oh my gosh. I’m an expert with this stuff. I have a great legal team here in the City and I just follow their roles.
Q – It would seem that you could use more than just a few t-shirts at a time. You need them in bulk.
A – Not right now because that’s not what I’m doing. This is like couture. If you know what the word couture is it means it’s definitely the minimal pieces and they’re hand done. These are not hand-sewn, but they’re hand-cut. My goal right now is to keep it as exclusive as possible until I start mass producing and I will always have this one line of one-of-a-kind exclusive bikinis.
Official website: www.vintbikini.com
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