June 10, 2021: As I write this article, I legitimately have two additional tabs open: one dedicated to a pair of beige thong-heeled sandals and the other, black stretch-knit stirrup leggings. My shopping list aside, I, among many more fashion-hungry folk, am loving retro styles as of late, and the nostalgia trend isn’t exclusive to fashion—as of now anyway. You see, today marks the highly anticipated launch of Vacation by Poolside FM, a five-piece line of sunscreen and sunscreen-scented products inspired by the 80s.
Besides copy references to 2021, the collection’s products and accompanying campaign imagery look straight out of the 80s, just like the company’s beloved radio station. For some background, Marty Bell launched the website in 2014 but completely revamped it in 2019 to make the experience reflect the look and feel of a desktop functioning via a dial-up modem. The interactive website, dubbed a “virtual vacation” time and time again, offering hours’ worth of feel-good summer tracks and 80s VHS visuals.
The collection comprises two dermatologist-approved SPF 30 sunscreen formulas, along with an SPF 30 oil, hydrating face mist and fragrance. The classic lotion and eau de toilette feature Vacation’s signature scent, which, as the brand puts it, “captures the true essence of sunscreen and summer.” To concoct that smell, perfumers fused notes of “coconut, banana, pineapple, orange blossom, pool water, swimsuit lycra” and—wait for it—”a playful touch of an inflatable pool toy.”
“We wanted to make the next iconic sunscreen smell,” Miami-based sunscreen entrepreneur Dakota Green tells WWD regarding his role in helping with Vacation’s product development. “We spent a long time breaking down what people like and dislike [about sunscreen], and we worked with several formulators to get the sunscreen right, but I think the fragrance was really the thing that we wanted to make sure we got absolutely right.”
Along with many other curious beauty lovers, I have been highly anticipating this launch, considering Vacation’s been making quite a splash on social media. This past April, the brand unveiled an immersive and clever pre-launch marketing campaign. Website visitors could claim random job titles with the company and receive a digital honorary business card. According to a brand rep, over 10,000 visitors engaged with the creative campaign on the first day alone—earning perks like free sunscreen and, of course, their hilarious fake job (“Senior Lobby Fern Sunlight Analyst” is my personal favorite).
Every piece of the puzzle plays into the company’s vision; one that’s just as focused on the lifestyle it promotes as it is on its SKUs. “Poolside FM is really catchy because it infuses layers of nostalgia, whether it’s the way you interact with the website or the music,” Bell tells WWD of the brand’s unique strategy. “Everything [with the brand] is being designed to have those layers of nostalgia again to hopefully re-create that virality of Poolside FM in a product.”
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