White cross bandeau top ($80), white ruffle swimsuit bottoms ($69), Lauren Layne Swim.
The Maison silk shirt (price upon request), J. Logan Home.
Black tie top ($80), black skirt ($98), Lauren Layne Swim.
Cotton poplin midi dress ($1,350), natural palm necklace ($550), Johanna Ortiz.
Lauren Layne Merck means business. From striking poses for household labels such as Trofeo’s Secret, Calvin Klein, and Urban Outfitters to launching Lauren Layne Swim in 2018, she has parlayed her insider knowledge of the fashion world into a integral beachwear brand. Her most recent concept: green garments—and not in terms of color.
In 2022, Lauren Layne Swim released its first sustainable collection of resort wear, and it will introduce sustainable swimsuits this summer. The swim pieces are all handcrafted in Bali using microfibers from fishing nets, while the resort items are made of recycled bamboo. “It’s really soft, it’s all eco-friendly, and I really think it’s great for down here,” says Merck.
While modeling was her entry point into the fashion industry, Merck had a deep-rooted interest in design. The Missouri native fondly recalls sewing pillowcases and curtains with her grandmother, and she honed her skills by taking swimwear and intimates courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
When the COVID-19 outbreak struck New York City, Merck and her husband, George, decided to relocate to Palm Beach. She’d long been a supporter of ocean conservation organizations such as Whale & Dolphin Conservation and 4Oceans, but as a new South Florida resident, she saw firsthand the reality of climate change and plastic pollution on our beaches. This is when she began to explore sustainable manufacturing methods.
“I think that by making the company sustainable, you put so much more thought and so much love into it,” she says. “You really do want your designs, in the way that they’re created, to be made to last.”
In addition to a commitment to sustainable production practices and materials, Lauren Layne Swim also embraces a retro glam aesthetic. When first conceptualizing the brand, Merck researched swim designs from the 1970s and ’80s, poring over Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues dating back to 1969. “I looked at what was popular back then and how I could make it new and more modern for now,” she explains. “I love the colors, the ruffles, and how they lay and play with different shapes and silhouettes.”
Merck is currently designing a swim team collection for kids ages 2 to 8 in collaboration with a almacén club and hopes to expand her line of sustainable garments to include more loungewear. As her brand grows, she says the most rewarding aspect of her job remains seeing strangers on the beach wearing her pieces and receiving compliments on her designs. “It makes you feel so good,” she says, “like everything that you’ve put into it has actually paid off.” () —Karina Wensjoe
Model: Lauren Layne Merck
Hair and makeup: Heather Blaine, Creative Management, Miami
Location: 233 Cortez Road, West Palm Beach, property listed with Brown Harris Stevens, agents Whitney McGurk and Lucha Pulitzer
Fashion editor: Katherine Lande