The swimwear industry has been in need of a revolution.
While other facets of the fashion world have been steadily incorporating the ethos of size inclusivity into their production, the swimwear branch has been slow to follow suit. It’s what encouraged Dos Swim founders Shay Johnson and Paula Hess to team up with model Paloma Elsesser to launch a new collection with inclusivity and comfort front of mind—without sacrificing the right amount of sexy everyone wants in the perfect swimsuit.
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“We’re in the day and time of where every body is a swim body,” Johnson tells BAZAAR.com. “There was a time when people would like be like, ‘Oh, shit, it’s bikini season—I need to go to the gym! But now, people are really starting to just not give a f*ck. A lot of swimwear brands would before just [showcase] any white girl into a bikini and make people feel like that is what should be idolized. There is something sexy about seeing someone in a bikini that has, like, curves and stretch marks and all these other things, and being like, ‘Damn, she looks good!'”
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Elsesser, star of the brand’s latest campaign, echoes Johnson’s sentiments. As a modern supermodel and one of the most prominent faces of the body positivity movement, Elsesser knew that it was imperative to showcase a collection of swimwear that celebrates women’s curves.
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“While the swimwear industry has exploded in the last two years, it did feel like there was a decline in swimwear that was cool and passable and chunky-girl friendly,” Elsesser says. “Shay and Paula and I are friends, and because of our relationship, we were able to walk through all the steps of what might feel good on a range of body types.”
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The design duo’s new collection, titled Heat Wave, incorporates a slew of styles including bustier-inspired bikini tops, high-cut bottoms, and strappy one-pieces in a range of earthy tones and vibrant patterns. Meant to be functional as well, the pieces are suitable for not just beach and poolside hangs, but also hiking trips and lakeside visits; so, khaki shorts and boots, in addition to glamorous caftans and platform sandals.
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“[The inspiration for the collection was] what is it like to be in the city in the summer,” Johnson says. “So many people go upstate on the weekends, go to the lake, rent a house together with a group of friends. We wanted to show that through the collection, which is why the collection has a little bit of a sportier vibe, but also still feeling sexy. Also, we use paracord trimming, which is a reference to camping and hiking, like being outdoors.”
The most important element to Johnson, Hess, and Elsesser, however, was that sexiness wasn’t sacrificed. “A lot of swimwear brands that are out there now for curvy or bigger body types, so often they focus on all coverage. And sometimes, thicker girls want a skimpier moment,” Johnson says. “We put [one of our models] in, like, our tiny bikini top, and she was like, ‘Oh, my God, finally somebody gets it!’ Just because you’re thicker doesn’t mean you don’t want to be sexy or skimpy or want a tanning bikini. We wanted to create something girls could relate to but also felt cool in, as well as something that’s not on the market right now.”
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“This collaboration was about that,” Hess adds. “It was also a great experience [for Paloma] to see what it takes [to bring a collection to life], also because she is in the industry and knows what is out there, and what she wants and sees, and knows what [the public] wants. So it was just a great to be able to work with her together on this.”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US