This story in the New York times about an Australian cossie brand …. I know a little early to be thinking about a new swimming costume, but this is also an inspiring story.
Sometimes, the simplest things are the hardest to get right — that’s the belief of the swimwear designer Tuyen Nguyen, who spent nearly a year working on the fit, fabrication and cut of her line of fuss-free swimsuits before she launched her label, called Her, in 2014.
“We were constantly calling models in to refit, to try out new fabrics, to ask what they thought,” says Nguyen, 28, who founded the brand with her partner in life and work, Michael Lim, after being unable to find an appropriate suit to pack for a trip the couple took to Hong Kong. “I wanted something for a city hotel, something that wasn’t fussy,” she says. “I couldn’t find anything that I was happy to pay for — there was only the very expensive or the cheaply made.”
So Nguyen conceived of a line of minimal swimwear made from high-quality materials at a reasonable price point. Above all, she says, it had to be easy to wear. “With swim, you’re pretty much wearing nothing in public,” she says. “We all have different body shapes — so it’s about finding out what parts of the body can be accentuated, what can be covered up or should come in a different silhouette so that women of all types can feel comfortable.”
To that end, Nguyen made sure to fit her designs on a variety of women, calling in models with different body types — and even enlisting the help of her mother and two sisters. “We’d get them to try the suits on and then ask them all sorts of different questions: ‘Does this make you feel comfortable?’ ‘Do you like the feel of this?’” says Nguyen. She also sought out premium fabrics, eventually settling on a quick-dry, UV 50 performance material from Italy that “helps suck you in” — as well as a recycled Lycra that’s sustainable “with no loss of quality.”
It was important to Nguyen that Her be produced in Australia, in the largely Vietnamese manufacturing community she grew up in. “Both of my parents are tailors here — they’ve been making clothes since I was born,” says Nguyen, who remembers learning to sew in her parents’ studio. “Back in the day when there was a lot of work and it got really demanding, my mom would teach me — age 6 or 5 — to sew on the little tags,” she recalled fondly. “I was always keen on sewing, and as I got older, I did more and more.”
Producing nearby also allowed Nguyen to keep a close eye on quality. “I feel like these days, a lot of people don’t really value what they buy because there’s this assumption that everything is made offshore in who knows what kind of conditions,” she says. By contrast, Nguyen and her partner meet with Her’s manufacturers “constantly” to check in on product, and discuss improvements. “It allows us to give our customers that level of quality I felt was missing at this price point,” she says. The partners decided to launch the brand with a direct-to-consumer model — selling only online — so that they could keep the cost relatively low. (Most suits cost around $155.) As Nguyen puts it: “We put a lot of care and thought into it.”
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