Monday, July 15, 2024

Melissa Odabash

A Passion for Fashion

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Melissa Odabash, Founder & Creative Director

Launched in 1999, the beginnings of the Melissa Odabash brand were inspired by Melissa herself working as a model in Italy, modelling swimwear and wanting to create something that she herself would wear. Here, RLI catches up with the Founder & Creative Director to speak about the growth of the company and what its next steps are.

Scouted at a young age from her hometown in New Jersey, Melissa Odabash enjoyed a very successful modelling career which brought her to live in Italy in her early twenties. It was while working as a swimwear model here that she noticed a lack in the market for swim styles that she herself wanted to wear and it was this discovery that led to the launch of her namesake brand.

“I was finding that all my jobs were for swimwear in fluorescent colours with super cutouts and that these were the trends, I wanted to create high fashion with timeless, great fitting swimwear that was suitable all shapes and sizes,” highlights Melissa Odabash, Founder & Creative Director of the brand.

“I have been fortunate enough to work with all the largest fashion houses as their fit model, from Prada to Valentino, which has given me the chance to learn so much about good quality fabrics and how to ensure a perfect fit for all styles.”
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, today the company sells its expanded product selection in 72 countries and operates a selection of six stores across the UK, France, Greece, Italy and Türkiye.

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The business recently opened a store in St Tropez, France in Rue Gambetta, a location that Melissa has always wanted to have a presence in due to the elegance and sophistication of the town and the people who occupy it. In addition, Greece has always been a strong market for the business as well and last year saw the launch of a store in Costa Navarino.

When we ask Melissa about what is in the development pipeline for the next year or two, she explains that she is currently looking into opening two standalone stores in Dubai. While much of her focus presently is on the UAE, she is also looking into the possibility of working more closely within Asia and that potential new global locations are always being scoped out.

“In terms of design and collection expansion I have recently launched a new loungewear collection alongside a suitable ready-to-wear line made from recycled fabrics. I sell all across the globe so I constantly monitor and take into consideration what all my markets are looking for in any product lines I create and release,” continues Odabash.

As this answer led perfectly onto our next point of interest, we next asked the Founder about how she continues to develop new products and incorporates initiatives in her products to maintain her market position?
“I have always used premium fabrics but in terms of construction I ensure I also line all my swimwear with the same outer fabric so it will never lose its shape. This process is important in creating long-lasting swimwear that stands the test of time and ensures quality. All of my swimwear is made in Italy, they are true artisans and they have been perfecting these techniques for years.”

The brand has always been dedicated to its clientele, making sure they feel confident and comfortable in their swimwear or beachwear. Over its first quarter-century of operation it has built a very diverse range of clients from super fashion-savvy individuals to high profile celebrities and even royalty. Regardless of this though, Melissa always strives to ensure every client feels valued.

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Being a visual person, the concept of social media has been a very powerful one for the founder, who feels that the platform is a pivotal one in order to expand the company to countries that have not yet heard of it. She highlights that creating organic and meaningful content takes time, so she feels it is a process, but one that that is always evolving.

Like social media, sustainability is an important concept for the business and Odabash has begun using innovative, sustainable and eco fabrics in a range of her collections. Their production processes work with the highest standards, using recycled water, the wastage from fabrics, recycling the materials and utilising solar panels.

“We have always maintained sustainability standards throughout and our partners are equally committed to evolving and growing towards a more sustainable future. It will not happen overnight but as long as we keep moving forward, it is the right direction.”

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At its core, the brand is about making women look great through elegance and comfort with high quality fabrics and over the last 25 years, it has never strayed from that. Melissa continues to create innovative designs and retains the same passion from the day she started; she wants to continue making women look fabulous regardless of age and size and maintains that swimwear is for all.

“I started this company as a personal passion for fashion and I feel we have stayed true to this despite the many hurdles the fashion industry throws at you. However, like most CEOs, I am used to problem solving and as long as your passion is still there you can take things one day at a time and continue to move forward.”