31 July 2020

Graduates’ vacation leads to new men's swimwear company

Vacay Swimwear

Corey DeCandia

Co-Founder & Director, Vacay Swimwear
Bachelor of Marketing & Communication

Jordan Kallios

Co-Founder & Director, Vacay Swimwear
Bachelor of Management (Marketing)

After striking up a friendship bounding to marketing classes and navigating group assignments together while at the University of South Australia, it was clear to both Corey DeCandia and Jordy Kallios – not only was this a significant friendship – it had the potential to be an expansive and lifechanging business partnership.

Shortly after graduation, the ambitious boys launched Vacay Swimwear, and brought a whole new take on European-inspired, sophisticated swim and resort wear to combat the often-uninspired swimwear options for men.

Thanks to their sharp business acuity and ingenious designs inspired by iconic holiday destinations, the brand has grown at breakneck speed and is set to turn over six figures in revenue this year. Having conquered the online market and attracting sales on a global scale, you’ll now also find their bold, colourful shorts on David Jones shelves around the country.

We asked Corey and Jordy what it’s been like building a fashion business from the ground up, drawing inspiration from the legendary beaches of Europe, how their relationship has changed with their ongoing success – both at just 25 years-old – and even some fashion tips for good measure.

Could you tell us a bit about your company? What did you set out to create with the Vacay Swimwear brand?

Corey: Vacay Swimwear is a men’s swim & resort wear label that aims to fill the suitcase with all the vacay necessities of every travelling man. We’ve both always had a huge love for travel and fashion so it was only right we followed this space with the brand. We’ve always set our sights high for the brand but never imagined it to become globally recognised as quick as it did.

You came up with the idea for the line on holiday in Mykonos. What did you find inspiring – or uninspiring – about the style?

Jordy: Throughout studying at UniSA, Corey and myself did a lot of travelling between semester breaks. While abroad, we noticed a lot of Europeans were wearing a more snug fit, mid-length swim short, this fit was a lot more stylish and elongated the leg and body. Back home, everyone was still wearing your typical below-the-knee baggy boardies, which has now become very outdated. We knew this particular fit was going to eventually hit the Aussie market, but I think we sped that up when Vacay Swimwear was born.

What about this European sensibility did you want to bring to Australia?

Corey: European trends always make their way to Australia, but usually a number of seasons later. Both Jordy and I try to keep up with these European trends both before and as they’re happening to try stay on top of our competition. The style of Europeans is just so effortless, and bringing that sense of style to other markets is something I feel we do quite well.

Vacay Swimwear

We heard you both met at University – could you tell us a bit about this meeting and your time at UniSA?

Corey: If I remember correctly, our first class together was Market Analysis in our third year. I’d always known of Jordy through mutual friends but this is where we officially met. We partnered up for a group assignment and instantly made a strong connection. We both loved having a laugh and always tried to not take the whole university experience too seriously… like a lot of others did. UniSA was not only a great place to further our Marketing knowledge, I more importantly found it to be a really welcoming place where you get to network and meet some really interesting people you probably would have never had the chance of meeting. Business is all about relationship building and forming connections, so UniSA was a great steppingstone for this.

Going from friends to business partners is a significant change in any relationship, how have you navigated this added element to your friendship?

Jordy: Initially, Corey and I built a solid friendship at uni, being put in group assignments together, we always had our problem-solving cap on, finding solutions to problems, which still hasn’t changed to this day! Together we have developed an amazing working relationship. On the weekends we have a great friendship, we can go out and get dinner and not let business intervene. In the office is where it’s all strategic thinking. Separating our business from our friendship is vital to us and an important quality we both have.

Do you feel that menswear – and creative/appealing menswear at that – is often not represented in terms of fashion and the retail market?

Jordy: In the past it's something that has lacked attention in the retail space. However, it is definitely a growing industry in terms of style in the fashion and retail sector. We believe Australians are becoming more fashion conscious with the swimwear they wear and looking their best while holidaying abroad.

It’s just been announced Vacay Swimwear will be stocked in David Jones. Congrats! How did it feel when you got the news?

Jordy: Thank you! It’s an incredible feeling, this is definitely our biggest career success thus far and once upon a time we only dreamt about having this opportunity. It’s very surreal that an Adelaide-built brand has achieved this milestone. We can happily tick this one off our goals list!

Vacay Swimwear

While deals with brick and mortar stockists are a big get, social and e-commerce sites seem to have also played a part in your success, especially early on. How important has the online sphere been in building your business?

Corey: The online portion of our business is absolutely vital for us. Without it, I don’t think we’d be where we are today. We invest heavily in online advertising as this is where our consumers are spending most of their time, and it’s of course the way of the future. In saying that, we are not shying away from brick and mortar stockists, and are placing a huge emphasis on continuing to grow this avenue. Currently retail stockists make up for 35% of our revenue and we are hoping to continue growing this figure.

What are your plans for the future of the brand and Vacay Swimwear?

Jordy: The future is big for us, right now our main focus is continuing to grow rapidly and eventually become the largest swim and resort wear brand in the world. Collaborating with the biggest beach clubs and bars, and building a strong Vacay community with all our followers. The sky's the limit.

Do either of you have a personal favourite piece you have designed or created?

Corey: As designers of the brand we love every piece we bring out. We essentially design our collections based on what we love to wear throughout summer. You’ll find both Jordy and I in swim shorts and a relaxed linen shirt on any given day, it’s honestly a great look that can get you through so many occasions no matter what the environment.

Find Vacay Swimwear and their offerings on their website here.

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Vacay Swimwear 2020 Cruise Campaign