Updated: Jul 4
LET'S DIVE RIGHT IN SOCIALITES!
Sun is out, Summer is here and with an official new 5th ocean on our world map - the Southern Ocean (body of water surrounding Antarctic) may not be the beach vibe you had in mind but fear not, we are making up for the summer we had to call a mulligan from last year. Nothing says summer more than American sportswear designer and innovator, Joey Rodolfo. We caught up with him in Scottsdale and spoke about his days in California as a surfer designing for Catalina Swimwear.
SCENE + SEEN
MAKE A SPLASH
When fashion stylist Kris Myllenbeck could not find a cool looking inflatable pool for her rooftop - she designed the first MYLLE pool in a simple B&W grid pattern with 2 rings instead of the traditional three. These chic inflatable pools aren't just for kids, fitting two adults comfortably with cocktail in hand.
Franckie Beach Towels
a sip of summer health
"Droplet is a sparkling, stress-balancing adaptogen drink made with whole fruit juices, organic adaptogens, and aromatherapeutic super foods. Developed by an all-female team of designers-food scientists, Droplet draws from scientifically backed plant magic to help you fight stress and feel balanced without any harmful ingredients."
Homage to the Esther Williams movies of yore with synchronized swimming numbers. The Aqualillies are the world's most glamorous water entertainment company reinventing the classic art form for the new millennium with spectacles of romance, athleticism and grace.
Before Cirque du Soleil's "O" there was Esther Williams
Creative sensation Joey Rodolfo captured the American sportswear world as a designer, innovator and entrepreneur for over 30+ years in the fashion business. From his first LA swimwear collection as a surfer called LIFE GUARD, to designing a whole lifestyle collection for CATALINA SWIMWEAR (Catalina Bay Club) and then trading vistas to launch UNIONBAY Sportswear co. in Seattle before taking TOMMY BAHAMA to a whole new level for over 10 years as SVP with his "sprinkling of a little sand". Find out what Joey is doing today as he returns to his roots in Arizona with the opening of BUKI-BRAND Scottsdale...
Growing up you were influenced by your uncle, a music composer who encouraged you to be a drummer – during your design career how has music continued to influence you? And though you mainly designed for athletes and sportswear enthusiasts – what musician(s) would you enjoy to design an outfit for today?
Joey: I wanted to play the trumpet but my uncle said my lips weren't made for that and that I should be a drummer instead. I played the drums throughout my school years and through college with a focus on jazz. I always loved jazz. The idea of 'free form' as a jazz musician has led to the way I approach creativity in my designs. It was my aunt who worked in the apparel industry (she worked on the uniforms for the LA Rams' cheerleaders to Paula Abdul), and she encouraged me to create my first collection. As far as musicians I would chose Chris Botti (a trumpet player) and I always felt that the band Chicago (I wanted to be a drummer for Chicago) that I could elevate their fashion style. As far as an ultimate personal challenge - I would love to design for female vocalist Chaka Khan!
Growing up you also loved drawing and architecture and you adopted the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Form Follows Function” incorporating architectural silhouettes throughout your career. What is your favorite architectural structure in the world – and why?
Joey: When I lived in Arizona, I would visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Scottsdale. I would go and sit there and study and that's where I discovered what simplicity meant and came up with my mantra: classic is simple and simple is classic. Also when I was commissioned to design the first NFL sportswear collection in Japan, I stayed at Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo & there's the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix - you have to see that bar to get the whole innovative feel of Frank Lloyd Wright's genius.
You launched your 1st collection in Los Angeles “LIFE GUARD” can you tell us more about this?
Joey: I used to surf so swimwear was the easy, low cost way for me as a first go... a beginning of sportswear beyond swimwear that led me to design for Catalina Swimwear - one of the oldest clothing manufacturers in California since 1907. They liked what I was doing with my use of color and I was hired to design a whole Catalina Bay Club lifestyle collection. At that time they were coming out of the Havana Suits & matchy-matchy cabana sets and wanted to make it more sportswear with more separates like I was doing with LIFE GUARD.
When you were hired at the iconic Catalina Swimwear brand, what was your lifestyle like living in California and what were some of your favorite hang outs?
Joey: Besides surfing and the beaches - I loved going to see live music and saw so many great performers at The Hollywood Bowl... so many music venues, cool jazz clubs, the Greek Theatre.
In 1984 you were recruited to become the Men’s Design Director for the new UNIONBAY Sportswear Co.in Seattle – going from California to Seattle, was this a culture shock to you?
Joey: Well, I turned the job down at first. When the founder of UNIONBAY Dick Lentz asked me to come out to Seattle, it was in January - he told me to come back in March and re-consider...the weather was worse in March. We were at a restaurant along Lake Washington, at a window table and all I could see was pouring rain.
But he said ignore all this - this will be the best career move you will make. He was right, UNIONBAY grew big time and I learned how to design out of Asia and travelled back and forth to Europe. I am so grateful to Dick - he was my mentor.
From there you began an entrepreneurial path of successes with companies such as Bench co., Cutter & Buck, JR 1879 and RESORT TWO.. In the middle of your career, you travelled to Italy to study Renaissance art and design – rediscovering your mantra: classic is simple and simple always remains classic. What made you decide to do this at that point of your life and career?
JOEY: I wanted to leave menswear and sportswear behind a little bit and purely focus on womenswear. I had to learn an eye for womenswear - I was in the south of France at a beautiful garden party and there was this incredible blue tent set up complimenting the view, the food and décor ..it all had such a good vibe and I wanted to create a version of that moment. That's what RESORT TWO was all about - that classic, simple and timeless style.
Who do you consider a female that represents this quintessential classic style? Male?
Joey: two women come to mind - Candace Owens and Jacqueline Kennedy
and for male, I would say Australian actor Hugh Jackman.
In 2005 you joined TOMMY BAHAMA as SVP of Men’s Designs for over 10 years and successfully turned TOMMY BAHAMA into a modern island lifestyle brand. What was your proudest moment at Tommy Bahama?
Joey: Right at the very beginning. Lucio Dalla Gasperina was head of product design and all I could see was Hawaiian shirts & silk pants. Lucio liked to drink wine & cook - and we were cooking together and he said of our first day collaborating on design that he had some of the ingredients and I had some of the ingredients and we would add a little sauce and together we could make something that tasted really great. The day he left the company, he walked in & said - Joey just do what you do "sprinkle a little sand on everything and that's it".
Today your company BUKI-BRAND, a collection of Luxe, hyper-functional designs for men and women not only represent a modern lifestyle but also a revolution in the fabrics that you have invented crafted from state-of-the-art Japanese fiber technology. Wardrobe essentials that are sustainable, breathable, machine-washable and supremely wearable. Now that you have moved out of Sixth Avenue Seattle – what’s next for BUKI-BRAND?
Joey: I still have a space to design in Seattle but currently we are looking in Scottsdale, AZ for our main storefront. I want to be where innovation is driving great industry and Scottsdale is filling that gap. It's very exciting here, this state is saying - Bring it on! - we'll make it happen here and we will support you.
Thank you Joey!!
LEROY GRANNIS PHOTOGRAPHY
This TASCHEN coffee table book is a collector's classic, suitably sun - drenched tribute that captures surf life of the 1960s & 1970s.
and one last dive before we go...
THE DIVE MOTEL + SWIM CLUB
Swim Club at The Dive Motel is hosting all summer long whether its "Chopper Swim Club" day or if you are a guest staying in one of the 23 uniquely designed rooms - enjoy complimentary access to The Dive Bar + Lounge / Pool serving hot food, cold drinks and a good time located just outside your door. All the rooms come with signature "Party Switch" that activates your own Disco Ball to the tunes of DIVE RADIO - 4 channels of: sex, drugs, rock & roll and sleep.
Throwback 2018 with former Seattle Seahawk "Too Hard To Handle Randall" Morris getting outfitted by Joey Rodolfo at BUKI-BRAND before his Celebrity Golf Tournament. This event is back again in September 2021 at The Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, WA to support the Randall Morris Foundation for Youth and Families.
THE TRIP - a song by Still Corners
'The falling sun burns a line
Tearing into the night
Watching you fall asleep
The sweetest dove in a dream..."
Share this with your waterlogged ladies & gents
an ode to stars, stripes + sailing
from Port Townsend, WA 360
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