Twenty-two-year-old S.B. swimsuit designer Danielle Rocha must be doing something right. With her sleek, sheer swimwear splashing across the pages of Sports Illustrated’s hallowed Swimsuit Issue for the last two years, Rocha has caught the eyes of beachgoers and fashion experts worldwide with her hand-sewn, homegrown beachwear.
Rocha runs Rocha Swim (rochaswim.com) entirely solo, designing and sewing each piece in her boutique line of bathing suits. She launched her business in 2014 but had been dreaming of it for years. “Ever since I was really little, I always wanted to design,” said Rocha, who would sketch out clothes and shoes as a kid. She studied design basics at De Marcos Fashion Academy, where the Dos Pueblos High School graduate felt inspired to go beyond her dress-design comfort zone and sew a bikini. A friend wore it to the beach, eyes turned, and compliments flowed —a business was born.
Rocha Swim’s aesthetic focuses on a Brazilian-style cut with ’80s fashion influence and pieces inspired by everyday clothes. “It’s a bathing suit that enhances. It’s a smaller, more daring cut,” she said of her line, which is geared toward petite women. “There’s so many bathing suits that cover up women’s curves when they should be proud to have curves.” She emphasizes comfort and fit — no straps digging into shoulders — in pieces colored in artistic gray tones, reversible for different looks. “The biggest feedback I get are those two things: I can’t believe how well it fits and how comfortable it is,” she said.
Rocha finds inspiration in unexpected styles, like the ’80s look of wifebeaters that have been cut to make a one-strap top, with bold monochrome suits whose limited release makes them all the more sought after. “I just try to incorporate what I see in the fashion world with my swimwear, and that’s what helps me be creative with it,” said the young designer. She’s forward-thinking, anticipating and designing trends before they hit the big-brand stores, and charitably minded. Two years ago, she launched Summer Dream, a yearly swimwear runway show fundraiser for the Dream Foundation that has raised more than $15,000 in one night.
For now, Rocha is keeping things as is, focusing on her craft and her loyal clientele above expansion. “I would love to keep everything handmade and keep it limited,” she said. Her singular, few-of-a-kind suits are beachy works of art. See them soon on the beach, or wear one out yourself.