A large part of Australian culture is centred around the scents of salty water and sandy soles, sunsets taking in the incredible coastlines and our skin perhaps getting a few too many kisses from the sun. A well-fitted swimsuit is a wardrobe must-have for these activities and this time of year.
The modern Australian woman comes in all shapes and sizes but this is often overlooked by mainstream fashion labels, especially when it comes to swimwear. But let us introduce you to The Fold Swim. Brainchild of Melbourne designers and lifelong friends, Stephanie and Carly, who are both proud D+ cup sized women and know all too well about the troubles of shopping for a swimsuit that actually fit.
“We’ve known each other nearly our entire lives,” the girls says. “We met in playgroup at the age of 1 and practically grew up in each other’s houses [and] as we grew up we connected over these shared interests and this is what ultimately led to us starting The Fold together”.
The focus of the brand is ensuring that they provided women with more than just a small selection of unsupportive D+ swimwear whilst remaining true to a chic aesthetic of design. “For us D+ women, being able to choose a desired swimwear design or colour pallet is a luxury and finding a style that actually fits and is offered in our size is the biggest challenge,” they say. “Many women with a larger cup size can relate to the exhausting and often dispiriting experience of searching for swimwear they feel confident and supported in.”
We caught up with the two ladies to understand a little more about both themselves and the brand they have recently launched.
Firstly, tell us a little about yourselves! Have you always been in the design industry or was this a creative endeavour that spouted out of another field?
Carly studied two years of Architecture before completing a Bachelor of Business (Marketing). Stephanie completed certificates in Fashion Business and Product Development before completing a Bachelor of Applied Science (Textile Technology). Our studies weren’t the driving factor for starting The Fold, but they ended up being the perfect compliment to the brand.
The brand certainly sprouted from somewhere deeper than studies or past design experiences. We, along with our larger cup size sisters and close friends grew up sharing a mutual discomfort for swimwear shopping. The famous swimwear shop Sunburn in Surfers Paradise was THE place for swimwear shopping, but for us D+ girls we would have to resort to the old lady or plus size stores.
In 2014 by the water we, Stephanie a 10DD and Carly a 10E, were comparing our swimwear and laughing about how ill-fitting and unsupportive our dowdy contraptions were. So, after years of struggling to find swimwear in a market that has long overlooked D+ women, we decided who better to design it than us, the customers. The Fold was then born with an ethos to fuse fit, function and design, ensuring all styles are supportive and are designed with a consciousness of the female form.
Where does the name ‘The Fold’ come from?
Selecting a name was actually an incredibly difficult process. The Fold was born after more than a year and a half of deliberation.
In the early days of both our brand and product development we found ourselves gravitating towards the built and natural environment for inspiration. We connected with the juxtaposition of the structured elements found in architecture, and the fluidity of the natural environment. ‘The line between’ seemed to encompass all of our design decisions, strategically balancing many opposing elements. We felt ‘The Fold’ perfectly embodied this continued exploration of ‘the line between’, and liked that it was modern whilst also being able to stand the test of time.
Why do you think it is so difficult to find adequate swimwear for ladies with a larger bust?
Swimwear may appear light and effortless, but its simplicity can be deceptive. It is not just designed to cover the breasts and look attractive, it also needs to support, shape, provide comfort and produce longevity which requires complex construction techniques. Larger cup size garments require more support and shape in order to handle more weight, which means stronger materials, increased reinforcement and expert pattern makers. The time, expertise and expense involved in sourcing new materials, creating new designs and patterns that perfectly balance comfort, fit and aesthetics makes swimwear for larger cup sizes a highly challenging field. This is why swimwear brands have been slow to successfully expand into this area, leaving the D+ swimwear market empty, uninspiring and of a poor quality.
Do you see catering to a market that has often been left to unflattering and ill-fitting silhouettes as a drive in creating genuinely chic pieces that will last in wardrobes?
Catering to a market that has often been left to unflattering and ill-fitting contraptions is the drive when designing for D+ women. We both love designing and being in the fashion industry, but being able to satisfy an under catered and dissatisfied market of D+ women is even more meaningful and rewarding. Our mission has always been to design functional and designed focused swimwear products so that D+ women can always feel confident and supported.
How important was empowering women to feel confident about themselves in launching The Fold?
Empowering women is always at the forefront of our minds in every aspect of the business. In the past, we have struggled with accepting our larger cup sizes and sometimes felt it was all too difficult. We have seen many friends and family members undergo or contemplate breast reductions due to discomfort, product unavailability and sexual stigmas that align with D+ sizes.
20 years ago a D cup was viewed as the largest size, and a DD cup didn’t even exist. Now, up to 40% of Australian women are wearing a DD cup or larger yet they are limited to an uninspiring selection of ill fitting, unsupportive and daggy swimwear. Women’s bodies are rapidly changing and apparel industries aren’t keeping up. The idea that women with larger breasts must resort to breast reductions is unjust. As a brand that celebrates curves, it is important we celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. We encourage brands to include D+ women, as curves should be celebrated, after all it’s only natural! We are proud to be a part of the growing movement of body positivity and empowerment!
What are your beach & poolside essentials for this summer?
We would never be beachside without a Lack of Colour hat, Mecca Face Sunscreen and a good book. At the moment, we’re reading Joan Didion – The Year Of Magical Thinking.
Finally, if you were to describe The Fold in three words, what would they be?
Paired back, Uncontrived, Inspired.
Shop Collection One at thefoldswim.com.