Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim Exclusive: Charlie by Matthew Zink

Victoria’s Secret has always been the pinnacle of sexy, so it’s no surprise that when Matthew Zink, the company’s head swimwear designer, created his own line that “sexy” would take on an entirely new meaning. We had a chance to browse the debut collection Charlie by Matthew Zink during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim and to chat with the amiable designer about his newest project.

Matthew Zink spent five years at Victoria’s Secret, where he says he first fell in love with swimwear. He gushed, “I love the attitude and lifestyle of swimwear. When we come out of a meeting, everyone’s in a good mood.” To add to his fashion résumé, Zink has also worked with Tom Ford and Carolina Herrera, as he confessed, “Everyday I try to push myself to be in that league.” It was this personal admiration and professional inspiration that gave Zink the boost he needed to start his own collection.

To begin his venture, Zink welcomed feedback from his friends about what they wanted out of a swimsuit. He soon discovered that no single swimsuit designer stood out for anyone as a favorite. He thus vowed to do a complete ‘cleanup of swimwear.’ He wanted to create a timeless, quality product, and something inspiring. “I want a girl to have a cherished favorite suit — like her favorite pair of jeans she wishes she had 100 of.” And thus, Charlie by Matthew Zink was born.

The exquisite bikini tops, bottoms, cover-ups, and men’s swim trunks are a blend of classic solids (black, white, and red) mixed in with vintage patterns and subtle gold accents. “It’s invaluable if you can give a girl something that fits and is simple. I wanted glamorous, yet wearable swimwear…classic silhouettes with modern fit and modern details, like the banded bottom that has a slight V in the front, and the Rams head vintage piece on the black string top,” Zink says.

Zink told us that visitors at Fashion Week Swim went crazy for the sexy, yet flattering, red bandeau top that has convertible, removable straps. We personally liked the sheer red cover-up, which was longer in the back and shorter in the front to create a subtle sexiness. Zink himself said, “I’m crazy for the flower print.”

When asked where he received his inspiration for the first collection, Zink admitted, “I’m a slave to the 1970s, where women were like Farrah Fawcett and Jerry Hall. They were all extremely feminine and sexy, but strong. There’s something really powerful about a beautiful woman.” And the name Charlie? “Charlie is my fantasy girl. I often think, ‘What would Charlie wear?’” Charlie is stylish, sophisticated, and has serious sex appeal, although Zink noted that, “Swimwear is inherently sexy. There’s a certain vulnerability about wearing a swimsuit — you are the most naked you are going to be in public. I wanted to make sure my collection celebrated the person and the body.”

So what’s next for the budding designer and the future of Charlie? “Eventually, I’d like to expand beyond swimwear,” Zink reflects, “accessories, sunglasses, leather sandals…like from Mykonos or Saint Tropez.” Something tells us he’ll get his wish. The guy’s got some real talent, not to mention deep excitement for what he’s doing (we could tell Charlie is his baby). He also has a unique and genuine respect for fashion as an art form, which sets him apart from many designers out there today. Zink certainly stays true to his motto: “We don’t need more clothes! We need more fashion.”

Find out Matthew Zink’s favorite places in New York in Haute Secrets.