'Memorial Day Bikini' Benefiting Vets' Foundation? Not So, Group Says

Image (Karo Swimwear website)
Image (Karo Swimwear website)

A Connecticut-based company last month announced it had added to its line of fashionable swimwear a camouflage-patterned bikini in time for Memorial Day – "a holiday where we celebrate the sacrifice of men and women of the military have made."

In an email asking retailers to consider Karo Swimwear "for any upcoming Memorial Day fashion guides," the company said "Karo Swimwear is a trendy brand that will be a great addition to any Memorial Day essentials."

At a time when veterans and veterans' organizations typically wonder if the purpose of Memorial Day – to remember and honor the fallen – has been forgotten amid barbeques, beach parties, restaurant discounts and car sales, the bikini pitch at least included a give-back to veterans and their families.

Katherine Niefeld, president and chief executive officer of Blink PR – who handles marketing for Karo Swimwear – defended linking the camo-patterned bikini sales to Memorial Day.

"Yes, of course we know what [Memorial Day] is about," she told Military.com in an email on Thursday. "That's why [Karo] donates to a foundation that helps war veterans and their families" 10 percent from the sale of each camouflage bikini.

That came as news to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, the group identified by Niefeld as the beneficiary of the Memorial Day bikini sales.

"We have NO relationship with Karo and have received NO funding from this company … nor would we sell this product," Foundation Executive Director Bill Linderman told Military.com in an email.

After Military.com told Niefeld of Linderman's note she said she would contact Karo Swimwear owner Kasia Roginska "to see what's going on."

The same bikini, which also features gold E-5 sergeant stripes over each cup, is called "Army girl" on Karo Swimwear's website. It is part of Karo's"enchanted collection" and sells for $199.

Roginska founded Karo Swimwear in 2013. A signature of her designs is the incorporation of natural stones, pearls, jewels and crystals into each swimsuit, according to her website. The swimsuits are made to order via online purchase, with buyers supplying their measurements.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at Bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at@BryantJordan.

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