Photograph by Jana Cruder
Amanda Chinchelli Greer’s swimsuits don’t look like anyone else’s. They’re a little retro, even classic. And comfortable—so comfortable they allow women to surf with a confident edge, something the designer knows all about. “I originally made them for myself,” she says. “I didn’t want to be overexposed in the water, but I wanted something that would reflect the beauty of surfing.” The native Italian launched Seea in 2011, and when not working you’ll find her on her custom longboard somewhere in South County, gracefully catching waves in one of her eye-catching designs.
How do you say the name of your line?
“See-ah” because that’s the way I say the word “sea.” In Italy, we pronounce all the vowels. I always thought the sound was feminine and musical, and reflects the brand.
Who’s your customer?
The girl who’s attracted to retro longboarding, moms who go paddleboarding and swimming and want to look good, and anyone who wants to buy local products.
Your first suit was for yourself, right?
I didn’t know how to make swimsuits, so I looked it up online and deconstructed vintage swimsuits to figure it out. It was for a surf trip to Costa Rica. I’m not 14 anymore and not comfortable wearing a bikini when I surf.
It goes so well with the sport of longboarding. Around the time I was making the first suit, I saw a show at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside called “Women on Waves.” I was super inspired. It was perfect timing.
When did you decide to sell them?
I loved the one I’d made for myself and knew there was a market for it. Usually it takes about 18 months to design a line, but I only had a few months if I wanted to finish it for summer.
Your suits haves names like San-O and Doheny. Why surf spots?
I wanted to emphasize that it was a local brand, and besides, the names are just cool.
How is life different here than in Italy?
You can follow your dreams and make them happen here. In Italy, it would have been hard to start this company. The bureaucracy is so confusing. Daily life is also different. I came to the U.S. in 2006. Here, I work at home and take surfing breaks. I’m completely surrounded by this great environment, where on the same day I can go snowboarding, surfing, visit the manufacturer in L.A., then go dancing in Venice.
How does O.C. fashion differ from Italian?
It’s more casual here, comfortable but sexy. In Italy, it’s more classic and traditional. I think the best of O.C. fashion is the alternative style—the cool indie girls and retro surf.
What sparks your creativity?
Colors. Also, thrift shopping, traveling, and blogs. Music as well. I cannot work without it. I mostly listen to Brazilian records from the ’70s, on vinyl. When I go out, I look at what people are wearing on the dance floor.