Singer/guitarist John McLeod designs bikinis.

“Five years ago I was designing men’s clothes. My girlfriend at the time was a model who was really skinny. She had a hard time finding a bikini that fit her, so I designed one for her. She loved it and all her friends wanted one. I said, ‘Wait a minute. Maybe there’s something in this.’ One yard of fabric will give you three or four bikinis. It just kind of snowballed from there.”

His local Dahlia Swimwear company has 11 employees.

“There are a lot of bikini companies in San Diego,” says McLeod. “[Two years ago] I sold $150,000 [in bikinis]; last year was about half of that, but I’m earning a living.”

McLeod has staged fashion shows at On Broadway and at venues in Orange County and L.A. Usually deejay music accompanies the models. McLeod mixed live rock with a runway show for the first time last summer, when Daredevil Jane played a Dahlia show at Canes. McLeod’s new band, the indie-rock trio Good Lords, will play a Dahlia runway show at Newport Beach’s Chronic Cantina on August 17.

“Eventually I want to make a national tour [out of live rock and runway shows].” McLeod insists he’s not copying TV’s Project Runway concept.

– Ken Leighton

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