Once Australian women with larger busts were forced to settle for swimwear with little to no support and daggy styles. Today, although options are still limited, swimwear designers are beginning to factor in D-plus-cup women as the industry awakens to bodies of all shapes and sizes.
A handful of local designers have recently launched labels specialising in bustier body types after personally struggling with the limited availability of larger swimwear sizes.
So, if you struggle to find swimwear that fits, here are five Australian labels (and one from overseas), liberating women with collections that are not only functional and comfortable, but flattering and beautiful too.
Melburnians Carly Warson and Stephanie Korn (who wear a 10E and 10DD respectively) were motivated by their own self-consciousness at the beach, and bonded over their frustration with the limited swimwear options available to them. Since founding the label in 2017, the designers have focused on contemporary design, eschewing the uninspiring, uncomfortable, unsupportive and daggy swimwear for bigger women that dominates the market. The Fold balances flattering shapes with the need for support because the designers know better than most how a small back and large bust can be problematic when it comes to comfort and fit.
“As business owners we have a responsibility to women as well as the oceans we swim in,” says Korn, pointing out that 78 per cent of the label’s Italian fabric is made from recycled waste, which includes fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring and industrial plastic. The second collection, which just dropped, is shaped entirely by customer feedback, from the fit and feel, to the colours. Victorian artist Hannah Nowlan also collaborated on a contemporary, camouflage-printed two piece. Other colourways include denim-look navy, deep aquamarine, black, smoke grey and wine red.
Byron Bay-based swimwear label Marvell Lane, which launched in 2017, is committed to sustainable practices; it uses recycled nylon made in Italy and only produces collections in small batches. “We know consumers are trying to make better choices for the environment and we’re proud to be a label that offers [that],” says director Rachael Calvert. Calvert explains that designing for larger cups (the label caters for sizes 8DD to 16H) is more complicated than creating [swimwear in] “straight sizes”. “Getting the designs to sit beautifully over all different bust sizes and shapes is quite difficult, which is probably why we don’t see many people tackling this size range,” she says. The latest Mika Collection has a print by Australian artist Rachel Zuch and reflects the warm tones of a sunburnt Australian summer with feminine flare.
Growing up with an 8FF bust size, Melbourne-based Sophia Argyropoulos was inspired by her own struggle to find body confidence. She Launched RAQ Apparel in March this year, and is out to help women who previously could only dream about wearing a triangle bikini. The result is bright, bold and unapologetic.
Starting at an E cup and heading north, RAQ Apparel finds a balance between classic shapes, supportive construction and bold fabrics. “Industry experts estimate 80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size,” says Argyropoulos. This statistic could come down to the lack of options, not being properly fitted by a specialist, or the stigma attached to D-plus cup sizes. Designed for beach activities, as well as for poolside lounging and comfort, this season’s collection features a double-strap halter tie top in a shimmery red, navy blue, teal or classic black.
Australian bloggers (and Instagram success stories) Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman have become known for promoting body positivity. Their label Monday Swimwear, founded in 2014, promotes feeling empowered in a bikini. This season’s collection is timeless. A highlight is the popular Aruba top, which features a supportive under-bust band and deep-V front. The wide straps and tie-back style are flattering on a range of figures, too. Colourways include vanilla, black, rose, storm blue and a rose stripe.
Sydney-born model Renee Somerfield spent more than a year travelling and selecting high-quality fabrics in striking colours and prints before launching Somerfield Swim. Each piece is made with elements of spandex, which is a breathable fabric that helps to accentuate the body. The 2018/2019 collection includes the Flores top in terra (an earthy burnt orange), which is designed to have a bra-like fit. It features structured and delicately seamed panels and a supportive underwire. Sizes range from an A to E cup.
While this label is not local, it’s definitely worth a look in. Founded by Lydia Maurer (the former creative director of Paco Rabanne) in 2016, this luxury Berlin-based swimwear label stands for timeless elegance. “As designers, we must honour our trade and find beautiful solutions to make all women feel supported,” says Maurer. With this in mind, the label focuses on fabrics that best sculpt the body. Swimwear in sizes 10A to 20DD is made with Oeko-Tex certified fabrics and materials (free from more than 100 substances known to be harmful to human health). This season, the inspiration behind the design was the lush and floral colours of Jamaica. “We … stay very timeless and … pieces from all seasons can be mixed and matched to ensure maximum sustainability.”