A lo­cal de­signer put to­gether a swimwear col­lec­tion that women of all shapes can ac­cess and mix ‘n’ match for per­fect fits.

Crowd­fund­ing helped the Van­cou­ver-based Net­tle’s Tale get in the swim

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - > BY LUCY LAU

In a world where women are trained to squeeze, twist, and con­tort their bod­ies to fit into itsy-bitsy biki­nis and skintight one-pieces, lo­cal de­signer Ju­lia Church had a rev­o­lu­tion­ary idea: why not make swimwear that moulded to a wide as­sort­ment of body types, rather than the other way around?

A seem­ingly ob­vi­ous no­tion that you would think the multi­bil­lion­dol­lar fash­ion in­dus­try would have cashed in on by now, the in­clu­sive con­cept cer­tainly struck a chord with women around the world, who, to­gether, pledged $70,000— seven times Church’s initial goal—in a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to make such swim ap­parel a re­al­ity.

That was in 2014; fol­low­ing the suc­cess of the fundraiser, Church im­me­di­ately got to work on Net­tle’s Tale Swimwear, a line of Van­cou­ver- de­signed and -made pieces named af­ter the women in her life they’re crafted so lov­ingly to fit. Last year, the de­signer achieved an­other mile­stone: open­ing a stand-alone bou­tique where cus­tomers could see, touch, and try on Net­tle’s suits.

Sit­u­ated at 330 West Cor­dova Street, the warm, wood-pan­elled space stocks the brand’s full West Coast–in­spired col­lec­tion, which in­cludes comfy high-waisted bot­toms, surfer- chic tops, and colour­block one-pieces. Among the shop’s best­sellers are the Brit­ney ($70), a re­versible criss­cross­ing top that can be ma­nip­u­lated six dif­fer­ent ways to cre­ate vary­ing looks, and the Kelsey ($149), a wrap-style one-piece with flat­ter­ing ruch­ing and a plung­ing neck­line de­signed to ac­com­mo­date a range of bust sizes. For the sum­mer, Net­tle’s has also re­leased a num­ber of its clas­sic suits in play­ful, lim­ited- edi­tion prints like polka dots and black­ber­ries.

All items are de­signed to be mixed and matched so that cus­tomers can find the sizes and styles that work best for the top and bot­tom por­tions of their bod­ies. “They’re de­signed to fit all the dif­fer­ent women in our lives and all dif­fer­ent body types,” store man­ager Katie An­der­son tells the Straight dur­ing an in­ter­view at the shop.

In ad­di­tion to of­fer­ing women a safe, com­fort­able space in which they can shop for lo­cally made swimwear— Church took ex­tra care to en­sure fit­ting rooms were bright and open but still pri­vate— Net­tle’s of­fers a range of eth­i­cally pro­duced ap­parel, cos­met­ics, and home goods from Cana­dian mak­ers like Camp Brand Goods, Har­low Skin Co., and Hol­low Tree.

For the up­com­ing spring edi­tion of the Gas­town Shop Hop, which will see over 40 re­tail­ers in the ’ hood of­fer spe­cial deals from 5 to 9 p. m. on Thurs­day (May 10), Net­tle’s will have an as­sort­ment of swim­suits on hand that aren’t typ­i­cally avail­able in- store.

If you’re look­ing to ex­pand your swimwear search dur­ing the Shop Hop, One of a Few (354 Wa­ter Street) car­ries a se­lec­tion of min­i­mal­ist tops and bot­toms (from $98) from the Cali-based Nu Swim; Arc Ap­parel stocks ecofriendly line Vi­ta­min A (from $ 88); and Nou­velle Nou­velle (302 West Cor­dova Street) has mail­lots cov­ered in adorable il­lus­tra­tions of fruit and flo­rals ($218 each) from beloved Dan­ish la­bel Ganni. Guys look­ing to get swim-ready should turn to the Block, where trunks (from $78) drenched in juicy hues like yel­low, peach, and tan­ger­ine from brands such as Min­i­mum and Nik­ben are sure to im­press. Some are even cov­ered in prints of ba­nana leaves and in­sects.

Thanks to its ded­i­ca­tion to mak­ing the dread-in­duc­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of swimwear shop­ping as pain­less as pos­si­ble, how­ever, Net­tle’s is worth a stop. “It’s been great meet­ing all the women and work­ing with them,” says An­der­son, “and find­ing suits that make them happy.”

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