“You have to bring it here!” Rose Marie Delgado urged her daughter, Ines Prieto, over three years ago.
Delgado wasn’t referring to some magic beauty serum but to a swimwear brand that claims to make you lose 10 pounds in 10 seconds (“the amount of time it takes to put it on,” Prieto explains), and which may well be the fountain of youth equivalent for many women.
Prieto runs the 12-year-old multi-brand boutique called Itsie-bitsie, and her mom, who loves the sun and water, was a longtime fan and user of Miraclesuit, the American swimwear line.
Miraclesuit styles are shirred, draped or pleated strategically to conceal problem areas and enhance one’s assets. After all, not everyone has a perpetually waif-like 18-year-old bod, and only a handful are brave enough to go under the knife to get one.
Apart from its slimming benefits, Prieto says, a Miraclesuit doesn’t lose its shape even after many washes, perhaps owing to its unique fabric called Miratex, which has three times more spandex than most swimsuits.
“My mom has had them for years—20 years!—and she still has them.” Her mother nods in affirmation.
So in 2008, Prieto finally relented and brought the first Miraclesuit line to her boutique, which had just moved from its original Malate location to its current outpost at Joya Lofts and Towers at Rockwell Center, Makati. To her happy surprise, the swimsuits sold out—and quickly.
“It’s amazing! I always sell out. And the size 6’s are the first to go!” Prieto says. Size 6 is the local size equivalent of small, or US size 2; Itsie-bitsie carries up to size 18. They retail a little south of P7,000 per, a worthy investment, she stresses.
Encouraged, the young woman struck a deal to exclusively distribute Miraclesuit here. In time for bikini season, the swimsuits will also soon be available at SM Makati and Chimes Department Store in Davao.
The 2012 collection offers a vast range of styles that will appeal even to the younger and trendier set. And this is what Prieto thinks sets the brand apart from other swimwear lines with slimming properties.
Most are maillot or one-piece styles, though they come in variety of colors and prints. There are a couple of tankinis, and a two-piece, pin-up girl style of a halter bra top and skirt bottom with shirred high waistband.
Most of the styles have hidden underwire, some of them with built-in bra. (Prieto says Itsie-bitsie can sew in [or remove] bra pads if the customer wants. The shop can also alter the swimsuits if needed, say, to adjust the shoulder straps.)
Unlike other boutiques that have mushroomed out of control, Prieto has kept a tight rein on her business, maintaining just a store. Itsie-bitsie has been quietly successful, despite very little PR and media exposure.
Even shoppers from abroad are impressed with Prieto’s selection, coming all the way here to buy from her. On the urging of one overseas customer, Prieto will finally open in October a second Itsie-bitsie—in Hong Kong’s Repulse Bay.
Began in 2001 shortly after Prieto came home from studies in Colorado and London, Itsie-bitsie opened in a small space in the Delgados’ family-owned building in Malate. Prieto planned the boutique to cater to a tropical lifestyle.
She herself has sourced the merchandise from all over, bringing in a brand range and vast wardrobe choice for clients, from casual wear to special-occasion pieces. Since 2001, she has brought in over 250 brands.
“I’m product-driven, I’m not really concerned about brands,” she says. “When I buy, I look at products that are good and which really work.”