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
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.”