Know what the Colombians call what we wear to the beach?
No joke. They say we North Americans are obsessed with covering our butts, and not just metaphorically.
While women here are digging retro looks that cover our bodies with yards of fabric, women in much of the rest of the world are wearing cuts that show all but the crux of their womanhood.
Then there is Brazil, which redefines crux.
Two Vancouver sisters, whose itsy bitsy teeny weeny design picks up the international trend, say they faced incredulous Colombian manufacturers when they said they would sell their bikinis in Canada.
“They said Canadians never wear small-cut things,” says Cami Rush who created the line called Fenntessa with her sister Robyn. “It’s always diapers, diapers, diapers. They kept mentioning diapers. They didn’t think there would be a market.”
But not all Canadian girls are reserved, she says. While not Brazilian thongs, Fenntessa bikinis show as much bottom as they hide and they have been selling well at two Vancouver stores.
“The most popular so far is the smallest cut,” she says. “People are jumping on it.”
Not only that, they are jumping on the lime green version. So much for reservation.
The Rush sisters have always spent Christmas with their parents in Maui and they have travelled through Europe, Australia, South America and the South Pacific seeking fun in the sun. Both Latinophiles with degrees in Hispanic studies, they couldn’t help noticing the shrinking trend going on at the beaches they visited.
They saw men’s board shorts cut above the knee instead of below and they saw women rocking the small-cut bikini regardless of their size.
“You really don’t have to be a twig, especially down there,” says Cami.
“They just love their bodies. You don’t have to be skinny or the stereotypical model body to be sexy. You can wear it at any shape or size.”
Tan lines are as minimal as the suits. Even if women don’t feel comfortable wearing the bikinis here, the Rushes think travellers will love them.
“There are a lot of girls that do go to Maui and these hot weather places and they want them, but they aren’t available,” says Rush.
They decided to put Cami’s master’s degree in fashion design from Milan’s Domus Academy to work and produce a line for Canadians. They came up with four itsy bitsy styles. Plain, ruffles, bandeau and two cuts of bottoms. Cami is most proud of the ruched bottom.
“The ruching is great. It actually contours to your bum, your cheeks, so it’s a perfect fit as opposed to a regular cut that you wear a dozen times and it starts sagging. These are perfect, they make you look more fit. They are for sure a winner.”
Manufactured in Colombia, which has a strong record working with Lycra, the suits are well-crafted and stay on the body well.
Katrina Warren of Swimco agrees there is a niche market for cheeky bottom bikinis and Swimco has a few cuts from other brands, but they have nothing on retro-style swimwear this season.
“Retro-inspired swimwear is extremely popular this season as this style can often accommodate a fuller bust, and it is extremely flattering on a curvy figure,” says Warren.
But Rush feels confident that curvy women, at least some of them, will prefer the small cuts.
“There is suit for everyone,” she says, noting that Fenntessa styles can be mixed and matched. “There are girls that are 160 pounds that are rocking the suit and then there’s the waif types. Bigger frames look good in the suit. As long as they are toned.
“Our demographic is the fit healthy lifestyle demographic. I think it’s for anyone who is confident and wants to look both sophisticated and sexy. I think anyone from ages 15 to … you know what, my mom wears it. She is 60.”
Pablo Zambudio, owner of El Kartel, an urban street-wear boutique on Granville Street downtown, says he decided to sell the Fenntessa line after seeing the suits at a party.
‘The style is hard to find,” he says, adding that shoppers are loving them. “When the girls try them on, it shows their body and … it looks really good.”
Better than diapers? You decide.
From Vancouver Sun