LOS ANGELES — What's inflatable, not a toy, but could be fun on the beach?
An inflatable swimsuit, of course.
In early September, Cole of California will introduce Top Secret swimwear, which includes an inflatable bikini top with a pump-you-up system, a new "breath of air" on the ever-present quest toward breast enhancement.
Priced at $72, the suit operates similarly to air-pump sneakers. A small rubber "bladder" sits between two padded wedges on the side of the breast.
"Pump it a little to turn heads. Pump it a lot to cause a frenzy," scream the promotional campaign brochures.
Inflation (manufacturers suggest not wearing the bra while pumping) occurs by pressing a tiny pump in the center of the bra, allowing the wearer to adjust the intensity of her cleavage, nTC though it's doubtful the air compartment is large enough to serve as a flotation device.
Designed by Jacqueline Bronson of Cole's junior line, Hot Coles, the bikini took 10 months to develop.
"It was a 'what-if' sort of situation," said Lynne Koplin, vice president of merchandising for Hot Coles. "There has been a popularity in the emphasis on the bust. A lot of swimwear emphasizes construction of the breasts. This is more of a fun approach to a padded bra. It's very comfortable, too." Ms. Bronson has called it "the '90s way to have cleavage."
The bikini will premiere at swim boutiques Canyon Beachwear in the Beverly Center and Liberty House in Hawaii. Kathleen Mudd, owner of Canyon Beachwear, predicts the bikini will sell well.
"It gives the girl the option of inflating a lot or a little. With the swimsuits with push-up pads, the pad only comes in one size, so that's the size you have to live with," she said, adding that the bikini's nine different print styles (from floral to graffiti) and skimpy-to-fuller bottom options will appeal to a wide range of ages.
Will other swimwear designers jump on the bosom-building bandwagon?
"They probably will," Ms. Koplin said. "We have applied for a patent that will ward people off for a period of time."
She added that the suit's beach life is as long as that of a normal suit. Those worried they may get the "wind" knocked out of them can rest assured. Ms. Koplin said the suit will stay inflated as long as three weeks.
"Depending, of course, on what you do in it," she said. "I doubt you could roll around on the sand and keep it inflated."
Looks like volleyball dives are out.