as a New York–based fashion designer, mother of two, art collector and candy-shop owner, Cynthia Rowley is something of a modern-day Renaissance woman. (you know, if Renaissance women wore bonded neoprene leggings.) she’s also a die-hard surfer, so it’s no surprise that when she couldn’t find surf gear to wear out on the water in Montauk, she designed her own.
“I’m never not in a wetsuit,” says Cynthia of her time spent out in Montauk, where she has a weekend home with her husband, Bill Powers, and their daughters, Kit and Gigi. “You can wear a wetsuit to swim, for scuba diving, water sports. It’s great sun protection.”
Rowley, who has been surfing (or “trying to surf” as her husband jokes) for the past 14 years, says that the addition of swimsuits, rash guards and wetsuits to her apparel
collection was largely inspired by her own love of being on the water. “I love designing our swimwear so much that some days it’s all I want to do,” she says. “I definitely make a better designer than a surfer though.”
Every May, Cynthia takes her design team on a trip to the beach to get them on the water and familiarize them with what makes a good wetsuit. “Early on when we started designing wetsuits, some of the design team didn’t know things unique to surfing, like that
zippers need to be in the back or that there’s wax on the top of the board,” she says. For her collaboration with J.Crew, Cynthia took her classic neoprene wetsuit and created two colorways just for us. Little details like welded seams, side zips and a Velcro® back closure are carefully considered—and practical. “The wetsuit is cut high, so it feels a bit sexy,” she says. “It’s fashionable, but it’s also totally functional.”
Photography by Bryan Derballa.
To shop the Cynthia Rowley for J.Crew colorblock wetsuit, click here