Founder & Luxury Designer Alvina Lam Talks About The Design Process, Swimwear Analytics, & Shortages

Alvina Lam, based in the Miami Beach area, is an entrepreneur and luxury resort and swimwear designer that is at the forefront of new era swimwear which exudes feel, fit, and functionality. She assists women of all different backgrounds with the most exquisite pieces to accompany them as they break through barriers and reach new horizons!

She always had the dream of designing pieces as early as childhood coming up with innovative styles with any clothes she had. But growing up in Silicon Valley, it would probably be a surprise if Alvina wasn’t influenced by the tech industry! With a background in economics and math, she scaled the sales department of a prominent tech startup for a couple of years in tech sales, but she was not fulfilled.

Looking for a new start she decided to revisit her passion of designing a little more closely where she started as an Inventory analyst for GAP. With the immigrant edge, she rose through the ranks and was leading strategy for brands GAP, Banana Republic, & Old Navy.

With her keen understanding of corporate retail and her life purpose to increase sustainability and functionality, Alvina started Baliawear which is a resort wear brand unlike any other which puts her personal imprint in the industry.

Baliawear has a strong passion behind it which has allowed Alvina to share her story and inspire people on platforms like GoDaddy, Voyage, Miami Magazine, and many more!

So, can you describe the balance between the creativity as well as the commercial liability when you create your pieces?

That’s a great question!

When I design my pieces, I think of the functionality. Something that's very unique for the Baliawear brand is that every piece converts in multiple ways. Someone once called me the fashion scientist because it's not only that I have to design a piece of clothing, I also then have to think about how that clothing can either be worn front to back and convert in multiple ways but also fit multiple sizes. That's always at the top of my mind.

The commercial aspect is that I'm very focused on numbers. I want to make sure our product solves a problem and meets market demand. So, I'm constantly looking at what is out there trend wise while trying to be very unique and trying to make it wearable for all shapes and sizes. But it's definitely a balance.

My learning from corporate has helped me in testing with the ease of social media. I could put up a piece, see how the audience reacts and then go from there. This means I do a lot of small production and then once it works, then I can actually go big production and then launch the line.

Since you come from the corporate world, do you use any analysis methods or any data science concepts when it comes to swimwear?

Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd. So, my favorite thing is to sit in front of my computer and play in Excel. There is a lot of forecasting I'm doing every day and I'm pulling numbers and I'm making sure that everything makes sense!

But my background is the numbers piece and making sure that the sales match my business goals and all of the inventory matches in line with that. So, yeah, I definitely am looking at that! I wish I had more time to do more of the trend analysis and implement more of the data science into it. I know there's a lot of machine learning that can do that for me now, but that is something exciting that I definitely want to get into once I grow.

Do you find that sometimes when you're looking at these trends, customers tend to want the same thing over and over and then you kind of find yourself making those things over and over without trying to put your creative blend into it?

That is such a good question, because when you're on Instagram and you're scrolling and Instagram has all these algorithms, it kind of knows who you are and what you want to see. You start seeing the same thing over and over. Right? The toilet paper scarf trend with the little miniskirt was super in at one point. So I think as a business owner, what's really important is to have a sense of what is trendy and how do I stand out from that crowd.

I actually recently came back from a trade show yesterday, and sometimes when you're walking down the aisle, you do see the same thing over and over. It is really important to just take yourself out of that. Baliawear is very different and unique. Our brand pushes the envelope by giving customers clothing that can be worn multiple ways and wraps for a personalized fit.

What's one thing about your business that you didn't expect it to achieve that you're proud of?

I started Baliawear three years ago with in person pop-ups testing the audience and grinding! We opened our first retail store on Lincoln Road and then the pandemic hit. Thankfully our production is local and we were able to pivot our business to produce masks. We went 100% online. I’m very proud that we were able to support the local workforce by producing in Miami while we were also donating masks to front line workers and homeless shelters.

I’m very proud of how far I took my business and the recognition we get from our customers. We’ve been able to ride the video wave of social media from the start which has helped to grow our brand even further on multiple channels.

This recognition has been translated to our Wholesale Partners and we’ve been able to grow in resort chains such as the Ritz Carlton, Kimpton and the W Hotels both nationally and internationally

What's the challenge that you're facing currently in this industry in your business, and how are you going about tackling it?

We are growing fast. So, one of the biggest things, especially in retail is production. Your production partner is probably going to be your most important partner because if you don't have inventory, what are you going to sell? So, I think the industry, as everybody is kind of aware right now, a lot of products, a lot of our materials are being delayed.

One thing about the sewing trade is it's not really the sexiest trade. So, you don't see a lot of our generation even getting into being an operator at a factory. Factories are far and few between. Our growth in numbers is going right now a little bit faster than our production. So that has been my main goal right now, is to keep those in line and make sure that I can marry those two. It’s definitely a balancing act for sure!

Check out Baliawear and follow Alvina for the most transformative resort wear in the industry empowering women to break molds!

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