Swimwear modeling legend Monica Hansen has dedicated the past five years of her life to developing and growing her Monica Hansen Beachwear brand.
The swimwear world is a highly competitive one. With many options at their hands, some of the world’s most photographed women like Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Victoria’s Secret models have nonetheless donned and been seen in Monica’s suits. Her instinct of how to design and present a swimsuit has led her line to be featured extensively in publications like Sports Illustrated.
In 2018, Monica delivered her highly praised show during Miami Swim Week (where she herself graced the catwalk in one of her designs). Both her first and second show in 2019 resulted not just in a wave of international sales and media coverage, but an explosion of Instagram posts with Hollywood stars and international supermodels posing in Monica’s designs. Among them are Miley Cyrus, Bella Hadid, Khloe Kardashian, and Kim Kardashian. The latter has appeared wearing Monica’s design on the TV show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”.
With a wide range of moods from sportive to provocative, from romantic to minimalistic, Monica Hansen Beachwear pieces do not just stand out. They each tell a little story and enable women to show a different side of themselves whenever they feel like it.
Now based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Monica joined Haute Living for a lounging Q&A. Put on your favorite MHB suit, grab the tanning lotion, sit back in style and read below.
HL: What attracted you to move to Las Vegas? When did you move to Las Vegas? Why?
MH: I moved here two years ago. Before that, I was living in Los Angeles where I started my business. Once the business was growing, we saw that Nevada had a more generous tax system for small businesses and made the move. I had already spent a lot of time in Las Vegas so I knew the area. The outdoors, being close to Utah, California, and the Grand Canyon, called to me. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States is here. The desert is gorgeous with places like the Valley of Fire. I like to get away, relax and reconnect. It’s very good for me to be out here and it’s good for the creative process.
HL: Coming in 2020, you will be debuting your line in the racks of several retailers. What are you most looking forward to with this new partnership?
MH: We are at the point where bigger stores are calling out to us. We are very excited about having a presence in Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and Revolve. Having these large names as partners helps to name brand the line. It’s great for marketing and putting your brand on the map.
HL: What is a different way in which you will be marketing MHB in 2020?
MH: We are very much looking forward to 2020 and where it will take us. Over the past couple of years, we have been featured in many stores. This year, we will market more directly to consumers. We are doing Coachella, where a lot of brands like H&M, Levi’s, Revolve, GUESS and more have had a lot of success marketing their brands. The festival has become a kind of “fashion meets music” event. It’s not just about the music anymore. For example, the first weekend has the Revolve annual party. It attracts the biggest celebrities and influencers, creating a lot of hype on social media and social platforms.
HL: When did you realize you wanted to design swimwear, before, during or after your days as a full-time model?
MH: Early on. I’ve always been an observer, fascinated by photography and fashion. I love the creative side of it all. It was a natural progression. It had been in the back of my mind throughout my career
HL: What is something that most people do not know about you?
MH: I have always been camera-shy, which might shock people. I don’t like taking “selfies” or having my photo taken. It is when I’m doing a professional shoot that I’m comfortable in front of the camera.
HL: Almost 70% of the swimsuits in this year’s Sports Illustrated online portal are your designs. Tell us a bit about that.
MH: We were very surprised. I could not believe it. They kept posting our swimsuits on their website. It felt like such an honor, overwhelming. SI is a very powerful magazine to be in because all the buyers in the industry follow it. Over the last five years, SI has targeted more towards women, which is exciting. When we first launched the line, SI featured us. This is the fifth year we are on it. It has been a lot of hard work, but also a bit of luck in having the right connections.
HL: We are coming to a new year, and a new decade. What trends do you expect there to be in the swimwear industry or to set yourself?
HL: Well, the high-cut and simple cuts are still out there, and not too many accessories. A lot of retro is coming next year. Our collection this year was inspired by Versace in the early 90s. A lot of today’s fashion comes from that era. We use some medallions and gold metallic rings, but in general, the 80s and 90s cuts of sporty and underwire bra suits are trending, as well as animal prints. Our collection next year includes white, red, black, coral, green and violet.
HL: Do you miss being a full-time model? What parts yes? What parts no?
MH: I do not miss being a full-time model but I do get to shoot every so often. Though I can’t say I miss it, it was fun! I traveled and went to exotic places, which was the best part of modeling. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
HL: How is life for a swimwear model different from twenty years ago?
MH: It is very different, especially in terms of earnings. The payments that you got 20 years ago, you don’t see them today. It’s very hard for models to make a living these days because the advent of social media has brought a lot of competition from influencers. The market became more saturated.
HL: What changes have happened in the swimsuit industry over the past decades?
MH: The swimsuit industry has grown because swimwear is no longer relegated to being seasonal. Travel costs have decreased from 20 years ago, which allows more movement for more people, creating a positive side effect for our industry. Swimwear has become much more creative and versatile today than not too long ago.
HL: Please tell us a bit about your fabrics and how these compare to other types of clothing.
MH: The fabric for swimwear has gotten thinner. Some of the fabric we use is also used for athletic wear and lingerie. A lot of our pieces are worn as lingerie or are accompanied with a skirt or pants. We have a one-piece that we see girls wearing as a halter-top. Also, bikini tops are being used as workout clothes.
We use a fabric that is washable, stretchy and really different from what you had 15 years ago.
HL: What would you like to do with your brand in the future?
MH: We are looking to do a cruise line, ready-to-wear, and just a bit more conservative. We are expanding to summer dresses and cover-ups. A men’s line may be in the future, but not yet. Female lines still rule. It’s all a bit overwhelming, but I love it!