Long a favorite face of all-American brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, Neff says his own style hews lightly to a preppy, New England aesthetic, with a vintage twist, a predilection which can be seen in his designs for KATAMA, from trunks inspired by running and tennis shorts to a pair with details pulled from his uncle’s old military gear. “KATAMA has more of a Northeastern American vibe, whereas a lot of the other brands that I’m seeing are sort of Mediterranean or tropical,” Neff explains. “It’s for the sort of guy who likes to mix old and new. A lot of it almost feels like a throwback.”
Neff says he first considered launching a swimwear line when he noticed a gap in the market after years of modeling trunks himself. “I feel like there’s some swim brands that are marketing themselves as chic and then some that are sporty, but nothing really told the full story for me and captured the vibe that I felt I wanted to see in the market,” he says.
Neff’s unique approach to design is also an intensely personal one. In discussing his inspirations, he returns again and again to his grandfather and his “outdoorsy” uncle, to his many years as a tennis player, to a canoe he often saw in old family photos—the source for the bright yellow that appears in his first collection.