STYLE CHECK JING ZHANG
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Beach fashion: the competition heats up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 6:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 4:52pm

Summer is almost here, and the city will soon be engulfed in soupy subtropical heat. That's all well and good if you're on the beach, but if you're walking to work, it's just gross.

Offering a respite from the cloying humidity will be the bright, air-conditioned shopping malls that doubtless you will be heading to in search of that perfect new swimsuit, beach kaftan, wide brimmed hat and sandals, while thinking of all the Instagram pictures you'll be taking from your annoyingly perfect villa in Bali next week. Just remember - each "like" amounts to five minutes of jealousy on the other end.

We love the cool, sophisticated elegance of a Hermès swimsuit as well as the much cheaper, fun styles at TopShop. And then there's everything in between, from the degrade hues at Missoni Mare to the cool cuts at Lisa Marie Fernandez or the great selection of prints at Australian brand Zimmermann.

Swimwear, much like sportswear, has made huge style inroads in the past three years. Cut-out styles and the return of the one-piece have been game changers. Bikinis have become more complex and varied and, for obvious reasons, the Brazilians and Australians are doing swimwear very well. British-based designer Melissa Odabash does a coveted selection of "beach to bar" type beachwear, featuring pretty lace tunics and saucy snakeskin bikinis with matching sheer kaftans. The brand is popular with the celebrity jet-setting crowd.

For those more inclined towards local designers, we're not seeing much swimwear, but Marie France Van Damme is an obvious starting point. Her bohemian luxe aesthetic has become evermore chic in the past few seasons.

One American brand eyeing the growing Asian appetite for designer swimwear is Tory Burch, which launched its first ever swim pop-up stores in Pacific Place last week. The affordable designer brand has been focusing on Asia recently, opening a huge store in Shanghai last year. Its sales are booming in Hong Kong, and it hopes to further play on its popularity with pop-ups - celebrity models Ana R, Niki Chow and Gaile Lai recently showed their support at the opening cocktail.

The selection isn’t edgy or racy, so fans of that style might be better served looking at a brand such as Roberto Cavalli

The pop-up at Pacific Place's Garden Court has closed, but those who want to check out the Tory Getaway Boutique can still see it in a small space on the mall's first floor, which will remain open until May 15.

The selection is chic, a bit sporty and very representative of that Tory Burch wholesomeness that has managed to capture the imagination of many new fans in the region.

The selection isn't edgy or racy, so fans of that style might be better served looking at a brand like Roberto Cavalli. But what Burch has again managed to achieve is a balance of friendly femininity with a designer feel - it's proving to be a winning formula. The raspberry tones of the Ronda print work really well on their new surf shirt, for example, and there's an easy-to-wear selection of accessories for the beach, whether you're flying off to foreign shores or going coastal somewhere closer to home.