2012 November 1

T&C's Alexandra Kotur Dishes On Her Sun-Shielding Parasol Line

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(NEW YORK) In search of stylish, sun protective resortwear, Town & Country's creative director Alexandra Kotur and her business partner, Tiffany Moller, came up short. That's when the New York-based duo decided to fill in the gap; in 2011, they launched their seaside clothing line for chic mothers and their daughters called Parasol. A major benefit? 98 percent of ultraviolet rays are blocked with the aid of quick-drying, breathable beach-chic fabrics free of harsh chemical coating. Kotur hopped on the phone after closing her latest T&C issue to give us the deets. BY MARIA DENARDO

What's the concept behind Parasol?
Parasol is a line of sun protective clothing with UPF 50 [Ultraviolet Protection Factor]. You can sit in the sunshine, bake all day, and not have to worry about the sun getting through. But the idea is not to totally cover yourself up. You can put on a sun protective top, or the rash guard, and then you can wear bikini bottoms with it so you only have to put sunblock on your legs, instead of your entire body. 

Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
No, I never wanted to do a fashion line. I always considered myself an editor, and really enjoyed looking at other people's collections. Since this line had another element to it—we're associated with the Melanoma Research Alliance—my interest was sparked.  

How did you meet your business partner, Tiffany Moller?
We were mutual friends in New York, and figured out we were both having the same problem: We're over 40 and we're busy, working mothers who enjoy the sun with our families but want to protect our skin. I'm British, and I have really pale skin. I used to hide from the sun, but now I have children and they want to be in the sun all day. When the sun is beating down on me and I'm going in and out of the water, I don't have time to put sunblock on my entire body. It was getting really difficult, and I couldn't find attractive clothing to wear in the summer that would protect me from the sun. It was all very medical-looking and unattractive, or made from heavy scuba fabrics. Tiffany and I saw an opening in the market to help people. 

How do you and Tiffany divvy up the roles?
I'm more heavily involved on the creative end. Tiffany was a former federal prosecutor; she was number one in her law school class. She's works more on the business side; she's practical and makes quick decisions.

Who's the Parasol client?
Women who are active and busy. It's not necessarily the woman who does sports all day, or the woman who runs around doing errands. It's for the woman who does a little bit of everything, and doesn't have the time to really think about sun protection or reapplying sunblock. She's in and out of the water— and then she's going out to lunch. These clothes are meant to get you through the day; they dry very quickly, so you don't have to change 50 times.

Where do you source your fabric?
We use high quality Italian fabric, and everything is made in the United States. It's for the customer who wants their clothes to last and is willing to spend a little bit more for it.

Parasol isn't afraid of a splash of color!
I strip down to my 'uniform' at work because I'm looking at creative things all day, and I like to be in neutral clothes. But when I'm out doing my thing, I like to dress up and wear color. At the beach, I believe in color; I don't particularly like black on the beach.

What's your greatest challenge since launching?
I've been a magazine editor for 20 years. My partner and I both know a good idea when we see it, and we care about this passionately. But this is not our field. I know a lot of designers, but I don't know how they get it done, so we've had to roll up our sleeves and figure things out, from how to make a garment to how to get it shipped on time. There's definitely been a learning curve.

How do you plan to expand the brand in the future?
We hope to branch out in other areas, besides the beach. We're thinking about what the active woman likes to do in the sun, like playing golf or tennis!



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