Whether it’s escaping winter for warmer pastures or suntanning in your backyard in the heat of summer, a swimsuit that makes you feel good in your body—truly good—is a beautiful thing. From seasoned designer Jamie Banks, who spent time working on swim lines at Shoshanna and Kate Spade, comes Change of Scenery: a luxury eco-swimwear and resortwear brand that launched in 2022 and focuses on fabric, fit, and comfort. Based in New York, she designs for herself, and thus designs for her community. Below, she shares more about her inspiration, her design process, and sustainability efforts.
What was missing from the swimwear and resortwear markets that you wanted to create with Change of Scenery?
My passion has always been designing for real women, and inspiring confidence through product. I have been designing swim for a long time, and through conversations with my own friends recognized a white space for modern, sophisticated, and affordable resortwear targeting women aged 30 to 55. I founded Change of Scenery because I wanted versatile, uncomplicated pieces and could not find them. Breezy dresses you can throw on between making breakfast for the family and checking email; swimwear that makes you feel excited to head to the pool with your kids in tow or off to the beach with friends—but also makes you feel sexy if you are lucky enough to get that vacay alone with girlfriends or your partner.
How did your experience at other brands like Kate Spade inform your current design ethos?
The most magical part of working at Kate Spade is how much joy you can bring to women through product. In simple terms, women want to feel beautiful. It’s amazing how the right gorgeous color or beautiful print can make a woman feel like the most special girl at the party.
But I fell in love with designing swim at Shoshanna. Shoshanna Gruss founded her company with a determination to fit and flatter the female body—all in beautiful color and print with whimsical details. I loved working for a brand with that mission, and this continues to be my swim ethos, as well. Shoshanna taught me that you don’t need hundreds of swim styles—you just need a handful of really good ones that make a woman feel incredible, and she will come back for those styles in additional colors, prints, and trims. We would have the most fun as a design team choosing which styles went into each print and color group, always choosing several one pieces, two or three bikinis, and a few coverups for many body types. Now I am a solo entrepreneur, and I don’t have the team, which I miss the most. So, I invite my mom friends over for wine and we all sit around and choose the styles together. They don’t work in fashion, but they are real women who need styles for their real lives, and I couldn’t ask for a better focus group.
Can you talk a bit about the sustainability of your products?
I knew that I could not put more product into the world without having sustainability at the core of our business model: minimizing our impact and supporting a low carbon footprint future.
The entire swimwear collection is crafted in Repreve Nylon, a luxurious 78 percent fiber made from recycled plastic bottles which would otherwise end up in a landfill. The great news is that Repreve fabrics have super desirable properties such as wicking, water repellency, and compression for even more durable garment quality. In other words: this recycled fabric does not compromise design, fit, or quality. It’s super soft and feels amazing.
Similarly, I researched and sourced sustainable packaging materials with a low impact on the environment. Our labels and hangtags are made from 100 percent recycled materials. We work with Noissue for our tissue paper and stickers, which are 100 percent circular and can be composted or recycled after use. They are printed with FSC-certified materials and soy-based inks. We also work with EcoEnclose for our 100 percent recycled mailers and card inserts, which are curbside recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, plastic-free, and designed for multiple use. I’m not an expert on sustainability (although I’m reading as many books as I have time for!), but I do pledge to always make the best choices that I can.
What is your design process like?
For me, every collection starts with color and print. For my prints, I work with artists in London, as well as my dear friend Leslie Randall at The Luxury Shrink on custom original artworks. I am drawn to super graphic prints in bright, gorgeous colors. To feel right for Change of Scenery, they must be modern and timeless. In the swim industry, solid black drives over 50 percent of sales; I’m super proud that over 70 percent of my sales so far are in print and color.
Next, I choose fabrics. Our signature swim fabric is our plain Repreve Nylon. We added a textured stripe for Summer 2023 that is so much fun; it not only adds dimension and interest to the styles, but it is also super flattering. For apparel, we are introducing organic cottons with lurex stripe and crinkle textures. Fabric is crucial to a garment and how it drapes and fits the female body, so I really take a lot of time on this step working back and forth with the fabric mills and factories. At the same time, I work with our trim vendor in California to source the newest luxe trims. It was important to me to start out quite simple and land the silhouettes for our first collections, but I can’t wait to add trims to our tried-and-true silhouettes.
Then it’s time to design the styles. I almost always know exactly what silhouettes I want to see in a print or color. I keep the fabric next to me, checking myself while I’m sketching that the fabric will work in that style. After some more wine sessions with my mom friends to edit (editing yourself is quite hard as a designer; the styles all become like your babies), I finalize the new styles and send out technical packages to the factories. A few weeks later I fit the prototypes on a model, and style out the collection. I create a board for each print, color, and fabric, and assign swim and apparel bodies to each one. And then we get the market samples made.
If you need a creative boost, where do you turn?
Anywhere and everywhere! Everything is inspiration. My husband always asks me why I can’t turn it off, but it’s impossible. Walking down the street, the girl in front of me on the train, a magazine, a store, the internet, a museum. There are colors, patterns, prints, and interesting shapes everywhere. When I need a creative boost, I just know that it’s time to take a break and get out of my office.
At the end of a long day, what fills your cup back up?
Cuddling on the couch with my husband and three amazing kids. The best part of the day is when my four-year-old son says in his little voice, “Will you cud-dle me?”
What makes you feel truly at home in your own space?
Making it my own. We recently moved into a new house, and we are about to renovate. I can’t wait to add color, wallpaper, and art. I love hosting and being the house where everyone hangs out. There are always lots of kids over. Design and filling the house with family and friends makes it feel like home.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.