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Unfortunately, for many women, the fight to find a form-fitting, quality bathing suit that’s also attractive is never ending. Durability is also an issue - unless you’re buying from a trusted athletic brand, pilling and fading is bound to happen in a very short amount of time.
Fortunately, a new wave of carefully, sustainably crafted swimwear is beginning to flood the market, and the best of high style bathers are coming from Black-owned brands led by extremely talented designers.
The Black Lives Matter movement has recently shone a long-overdue spotlight on Black female entrepreneurs, thought leaders and creators. And believe it or not, choosing to invest your buying power in a Black-owned brand does make a difference - its just another way to show your interest in supporting the BLM movement.
That said, don’t let it stop there - stay engaged with the companies and people you brace, learn more about their stories and what inspires them to keep doing what they’re doing, and spread the word when a friend asks you where you got your beautiful new beachwear.
Interested in suiting up with intention this summer? Here’s a list of 18 female-led, Black-owned swimwear brands to shop from that champion cultural diversity and inclusivity in their size ranges and their designs.
The suits that make up serial traveler Racquel Simone’s brand, Destination Swimwear, draw inspiration from the numerous destinations she’s visited. Keeping in mind that many women wear swim tops day-to-day, Simone designs her swimsuits so that they can also be worn as crop tops.
SHOP IT: Destination Swimwear, $80
Bold prints and colourful accents decorate DIARRABLU swimsuits - a brand founded by serial entrepreneur, mathematician and Senegalese artist, Diarra Bousso, who left her career on Wall Street to follow her passion for design. Bousso's mother, Khoudia Dionna, runs the atelier in Dakar (where Bousso was born) and oversees all local manufacturing of DIARRABLU products.
SHOP IT: DIARRABLU, $125
Brooklyn-based Felisha Noel, founder and designer of womenswear brand Fe Noel, infuses her Grenadian heritage into all of her clothing. Key characteristics of her designs are glamour, femininity, sensibility, and sensuality.
SHOP IT: Fe Noel, $98
Jamaican-born Lurell M. launched LURELLY to make luxurious yet affordable clothing accessible to women around the world. All LURELLY pieces are designed In Los Angeles and some are hand sewn in the brand’s studio by in-house seamstresses.
SHOP IT: Lurelly, $120
Since 2005, Swimsuits For All has been creating swimwear for women of every shape, size, body type and age. The brand’s latest collaboration marks their thirteenth collection with GabiFresh (a.k.a. Gabi Gregg) and offers built-in underwire cup construction especially designed for DD+ women.
Riot Swim founder Monti Landers creates luxe, minimalist bathing suits that’ve been featured in the world’s top publications: Vogue, Forbes, Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan... the list goes on.
Seen on the likes of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Keva J of Keva J Swimwear combines her experience working in New York City and Miami for over a decade and her fashion education to make cutting-edge bikinis.
SHOP IT: Keva J Swimwear, $108
Asherah Swimwear’s creative director and designer, Cheryl “Cejae” Jones, uses her graphic design background to construct one-of-a kind prints. Sewn in Dallas, Texas, quality and technical skill goes into every bathing suit she produces.
SHOP IT: Asherah Swimwear, $200
Marcia Maxwell founded her brand, MBM, in 2017 as a self-taught designer. Unafraid to combine elements of structure and function that aren’t normally found in swimwear, Maxwell’s creations mix elegance and sexiness together.
SHOP IT: MBM, $145
After a trip to her native Ethiopia where she met a group of weavers faced with a shrinking market for their handiwork, supermodel Liya Kebede was inspired to found Lemlem, which now employs the same weavers to create every piece by hand using natural cotton.
Former fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski Freeney founded sustainable brand Jade Swim, which uses shape retention technology in the making of its bathing suits to smooth and sculpt the body. Every piece from Jade Swim provides UV protection, resistance to chlorine, suntan lotions and oils to ensure long term wearability too.
SHOP IT: Jade Swim, $220
In 2013, Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah founded Andrea Iyamah at age 17. Strongly influenced by her African heritage, Iyamah uses colourful and innovative designs to create fabulously tailored pieces that are retro yet contemporary by nature.
SHOP IT: Andrea Iyamah, $173
MissesBrie is a place where “confidence meets curves.” Founded by model, blogger, and designer Brielle Anyea, MissesBrie is a swimsuit brand for every style and shape: all designs come in sizes extra small to XXXL.
SHOP IT: MissesBrie, $99
Sofia Richie, Bella Hadid, Karrueche Tran and Kylie Jenner are all fans of Melissa Simone’s ‘90s inspired swimsuit line that captures the colourful, timeless looks of fashion icons like Christine Brinkley, Tyra Banks and Elle Macpherson.
SHOP IT: Melissa Simone, $180
Actress and entrepreneur Draya Howard founded Mint Swim in 2011 with all shapes and sizes in mind. Made in the U.S., the company offers a curated collection of swimsuits that are designed to enhance “all the right curves.”
SHOP IT: Mint Swim, $65
With a star-studded client list headlined by the one and only Erykah Badu, Brooklyn-based designer Tennille McMillan’s brand Nakimuli celebrates women who enjoy experimenting with their style. McMillan taught herself how to sew after graduating from high school at 16, only to find herself venturing away from a potentially professional career in dance to pursue fashion later on.
SHOP IT: Nakimuli, $120
Garnering mentions in the pages of Vogue, Glamour and Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, Nigerian-American Buki Ade’s bathing suits are changing the face of the fashion industry thanks to her culturally inclusive designs. After recognizing a lack of creativity and representation of African designers in swimwear while searching for a unique suit on vacation, Ade decided to make her own tribute to women’s curves and confidence called Bfyne.
SHOP IT: Bfyne, $163.72
Jamaican-born model Chantel Davis became fascinated with designing high-quality, body-contouring swimwear after struggling to find options that would comfortably enhance her curves. So, she came up with the concept for her one piece (maillot) swimwear line, CASTAMIRA: an eco-friendly brand inspired by the aesthetics of the ‘70s and ‘90s, driven by women who embrace both luxury and play.
SHOP IT: CASTAMIRA, $220