Sunday, June 28, 2009

Alphamoda "Kythnos" and "Santorini" microkini bottoms

I know it's been a terribly long time since I last posted anything, but I don't buy tons of new swimwear everyday. Anyway, today I'll write a review of two new microkinis I bought. They are the Alphamoda "Kythnos" and "Santorini" bikini bottoms. Usually, I buy a complete set consisting of a top and at least one matching bottom. However, this time I decided to challenge myself a bit and go for bottoms only, so that I'd be topless during my entire stay on the beach, without having the option to wear a top.

Alphamoda, which makes swimwear both for men and women, does not make bikini sets in which you get a package top and bottom deal, but, instead, lets you mix and match. Of course, this means that:

  • You can buy either just the top or just the bottom or both.
  • You can mix and match the top and bottom as you see fit.
They have organized their women's range in four distinct lines:
  • "Classic" - this is a collection of tops and bottoms that are generally skimpier than most of the suits you'll find in most lingerie/swimwear stores. Basically, they are sexier renditions of well-known and loved styles.
  • "Hot" - skimpier than the "Classic" ones, some are well-established designs (such as the "Kythnos" I'm reviewing in this post, which, aided by the seam down the middle of its front, gives a camel toe effect that many people, including me, find very sexy) and includes what is Alphamoda's most original and unique design so far (and one of my personal favorites), the "Antiparos".
  • "Extreme" - Now these are seriously skimpy. For those who only know Wicked Weasel, most of these suits are seriously in the same league as the famed "Microminimus": very, very narrow, covering only the barest of the bare essentials. The most well-known design of this range is the "Halki", which I intend to purchase this summer.
  • "OUTline" - This is Alphamoda's response to the trend for "fabric-less" or "single-string" ladies' swimsuits that started a few years ago by Double Take MicroWear, a trend that was also followed at around the same time by a few other well-known companies. These swimsuits are just straps and rings, nothing else; they provide no cover whatsoever and, in my eyes at least, wearing them seems pointless, except for those very special moments on a deserted beach with your significant other. The various "exposure" swimsuits for men made by a few companies such as Koala and Dubio Bikinis can be seen as the male counterparts; Alphamoda, however, seems to have decided not to mirror this collection in its men's swimwear section.
As you can see by browsing on the website, Alphamoda uses names of Greek islands to name its swimsuits. Now, I mentioned earlier that you get to mix and match your bikini bottom and bikini top to suit your taste. The choices don't end here, though: for bikini bottoms, you get to choose whether the straps will be tie-side or fixed, the color of the straps and the backstyle. Alphamoda offers 8 different backstyles, although which of these are available for each design depends on the line in which it belongs and its own nature. It would be, of course, illogical to specify a "Symi" with a "Rio" back! Choices common in both tops and bottoms are the size (thankfully, because I never liked the "one size fits all" policy adopted even by some of the most well-known purveyors out there), the ring type (you can choose between metal and plastic rings, which is the only option for which you will be charged extra: 0.80 euro), the color of the fabric and the color of the straps. And if you so wish, you can even email them to request unlisted options as well, such as straps taken from a different size than the rest of the suit or threads of a different color to the fabric, to add some contrast. Spoilt for choice, aren't we? Please note that all the swimsuits are unlined, as this generally provides somewhat better fit. This, however, means that some colors (most notably, white) can get very sheer when wet. Perhaps some people would like to have lining in their suits.

The microkini bottoms I bought are:
  • A "Kythnos" in shiny black, with matching tie-side straps, a "triangle" back and metal rings
  • A "Santorini" in shiny red, with shiny black tie-side straps, black stitching, a "triangle" back and metal rings
Once again, the different stitching color is a no-cost option, while the total price for the two microkinis was (without shipping costs) €24.20 ($34.02 at the time of writing). Shipping costs with Alphamoda range (for international orders) from €4.90 ($6.90) for regular air mail to €7.60 ($10.68 - always at the time of writing). I used XE.com for the currency conversions. I am posting a few photos of these microkinis, so that you can see what they're like. Unfortunately, I'll need to invest in a proper digital camera, since the iPhone's built-in camera is, well, seriously below par and the colors are somewhat off.

Anyway, here they are (you can click on them to see the full-size versions):

"Kythnos" - all of it


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"Kythnos" back close-up


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"Kythnos" front top close-up


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"Kythnos" strap and ring close-up


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"Kythnos" inner stitchwork close-up (central seam and front/back joint)


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"Kythnos" inner stitchwork close-up (side and central seam)



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"Kythnos" inner stitchwork close-up - back


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"Santorini" - all of it


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"Santorini" front close-up


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"Santorini" back close-up"



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"Santorini" side and ring close-up




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"Santorini" inner stitchwork close-up (back/front joint)


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"Santorini" inner stitchwork close-up - back


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It's a real pity that the iPhone's camera sucks so hard when photographing close-ups. The stitchwork on Alphamoda's suits is generally quite uniform, with (usually) equal spacing and very solid and sturdy. Unlike some manufacturers I've bought from (and which shall remain nameless), Alphamoda uses thread of the same material as its fabrics, to ensure that the stitching will have the necessary elasticity and will not get ripped when you stretch it. So as my previous experience with Alphamoda has proven, I can expect these suits to withstand regular use on the beach and in the seawater. Also I've noticed that the shiny colors (especially the notoriously problematic red) are less prone to fading than the "normal" ones. Not that you'd have reasons to expect serious issues with fading; Alphamoda uses better-quality fabrics than most other manufacturers around (Italian instead of Chinese), so they know what they're doing. Of course, this means that their profit margin is smaller, but the product we get is better. The fit of the suits is excellent and they stay put, no matter what, and feel great on my body - as has been the case with all the swimwear I've bought so far from Alphamoda. Also, as is always the case with Alphamoda's microkinis, these ones are unlined (as I'm sure you can see in the photos). Quality-wise, they're every bit as good as anything I've bought for five, six, or even ten times the same price from high street shops. They're just far skimpier and custom-made.

Then, why haven't Alphamoda made more of an impact on the market, with a greater variety of designs, colors, fabrics and more sales? Well, let's face it: Alphamoda is a one-person outfit, run exclusively by one woman, with a little help from her husband. Its profit margin is about 30-40%, as opposed to the 90% some other makers achieve with outsourcing to China or other such countries and using dirt-cheap Chinese materials. Also, all the suits are exclusively handmade and this is time-consuming. Furthermore, Alphamoda doesn't have the resources to promote its products as heavily as some other, more prominent manufacturers; and it most certainly doesn't have an ex-rock star as its owner (and we all understand how beneficial stardom can be, when it comes to having contacts in the Press and promoting your brand). It's just a small outfit, making a nice product for a rather small clientele.

Verdict: Once again, Alphamoda delivers the goods with great quality and fast, reliable and friendly service.

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