Meet the Model-Turned-Designer Whose New Swim Line Is Inspired by Vintage Navy Seal Trunks

Sam Lane
Editorial Assistant
Yahoo Style

Even though he’s conquered the catwalk and is the current face of both Tod’s and Ports 1961, Garrett Neff wants you to know that he’s a designer/model and not the other way around. Since debuting his first swimwear collection at the men’s shows last week, he’s determined to prove that his new label, Katama, is worth industry attention — and with 6-pack abs and over 80K followers, he shouldn’t have a problem.

“I had the idea to start a swimwear line in January 2014,” Neff told Yahoo Style. (This was at the height of his modeling career, when he appeared nearly nude campaigns for Salvatore Ferragamo and on billboards for both H&M and Banana Republic.) “With the collection, I wanted to tell a story of my childhood—with family in the Northeast, on Katama Bay in Martha’s Vineyard. I am very nostalgic about that time.”

Though the model was inspired by the very preppy vacation spot, his designs are far from those bright, bold prints that tend to dominate ritzy North Eastern beaches. You know the type; pink and baby blue trunks emblazoned with whale prints, and lobsters, and pineapples. “Martha’s Vineyard is definitely a special place for me, but I’m not pushing preppy,” says Neff.

Instead he looked to the original Navy Seal trunks from WWII, which were worn by his grandfather and his uncle. He designed high-waisted, D-ring belted trunks that he categorizes as “cool, but also risky.” There were a few other risky elements to his expanded clothing line as well — think retro-fitted short-shorts and slim-fit polos that, admittedly, look great on the rack—and Garrett Neff — but are maybe less realistic for the modern man.

What’s most admirable is Neff’s ambition to repurpose old, vintage garb and give them a more modern, and more comfortable twist with high-tech fabrics. The newbie designer was also quite complimentary of his “incredible team,” and the fact that they tend to refrain from outsourcing. “We really try to keep production in New York,” he said repeatedly.

Who knows? Perhaps this all American boy will become the next all American designer. Clothes are expected to sell anywhere between $175 - $350.