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August 09, 2016

When today's squad of It girls are loyal fans of your designs, you know you're onto something. It's the hallmark of a fashion success in our current celebrity-centric climate. And it's what blogger-turned-designer Rumi Neely (of Fashion Toast fame) found herself with when she launched her LA-based ready-to-wear line Are You Am I (that cleverly spells out her first name) just two years ago. Proudly Californian, each piece is very "LA," in that they're minimalist, uncomplicated, and yet, unapologetic in their sexiness.

So naturally, they would resonate with the LA girl, like Kendall Jenner who's been snapped in AYAI's midriff-baring tops (specifically, the Dewi, the Minka, and the Rylie), Bella Hadid who gave her denim skirt a refreshing off-duty twist with the Kimia bodysuit, and Kaia Gerber who favored laid-back realness with the Croft hoodie.

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And now, Neely's expanding her line of off-duty fashion greatness by turning her attention from the streets to the beach with a swimwear collection. 

"I had been getting questions for a while now from our customers about how much they want to see AYAI Swim," Neely tells us. "Living in LA, swim is just an important part of having a complete wardrobe. I've never had a bikini or one piece that I was completely obsessed with so I wanted to create my own. The pieces are progressive but utterly wearable, the same way our ready-to-wear is."

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The six-piece swimwear collection took Neely four months to perfect, from sourcing out the right fabric to nailing the fit. There's a one-piece that's dramatically cut high up on the leg, but washed in the sweetest petal pink. There's a dainty triangle top, but also an athletic one with oversize, exaggerated straps. There are dangerously low-cut, itty-bitty string bikini bottoms, but also super high-waist briefs.

"It's so many things at once—playful, clean, boundary-pushing, sweet," Neely says. "I love that it's a little jarring, having these silhouettes with such intense texture. The waffle fabric with such skimpy lines and the one-piece with the high-cut cuffed leg just feel modern and fresh. The fact that I didn't hold back whatsoever with the proportions and fit are what makes it so special."

And who is this collection catered to exactly? 

"Mermaids that get it," Neely says.

You heard her—channel your inner mermaid and start shopping the AYAI Swim collection (between $119 and $199), available starting today at areyouami.com.

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