Behind the seams: Sheila’s debut swimwear collection

Entry #4

Behind the seams: Sheila’s debut swimwear collection

Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2023

Exclusive interview with our
size-inclusive swimwear designer.

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In the ever-evolving world of fashion, the quest for timeless, size-inclusive swimwear remains constant. Clare, Sheila’s founder, had a clear vision for what she wanted in her collection; premium fabric, bright colours, and ultra-functional designs. But how does one transform this vision into a tangible (and practical) swimsuit? 

Enter Kristen: Sheila’s renowned swimwear designer.

With over 13 years experience in apparel, Kristen has enhanced major brands like Adore Me and Victoria's Secret, while also invigorating newcomers like Sheertex. Now, she leads her design studio, KRSTN NDRSN LLC, partnering with brands from start-ups to industry leaders.

In our recent deep dive with Kristen, we looked to uncover the design-process of Sheila's launch collection. Reflecting on her collaboration with the Sheila team, Kristen remarked, 

“To ensure Sheila swimwear looked and performed top-notch, we outlined the main criteria that met all the key requirements of luxurious comfort.”

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These were the considerations that took centre stage:

✔ Vibrant colours with matte finishes: Clare was passionate about ensuring the colours popped. For this reason, we opted for fabric that effortlessly showcased ultra-bright hues with a fresh matte finish.

✔ Soft and comfy: With life's waves in mind, the fabric we prioritised skin-friendly softness, balancing snugness without being too restrictive.

✔ Stretch and recovery: Superior stretch was critical for our high-waisted bikini. Using a blend of nylon or polyester with 20-25% elastane, our fabric adapts to your body and snaps back into place, every time.

✔ Weight and thickness: Selecting the right swimsuit fabric is a balancing act. It has to be lightweight against the skin but not become see-through when wet. It’s why we meticulously chose our materials to ensure both lightness and durability.

✔ Colour fastness to chlorine, saltwater, and UV rays: Our swimwear fabric was selected for its enduring colour vibrancy. It was designed to resist fading from both water and UV exposure, guaranteeing that the swimsuit maintained its bright appearance over time.

✔ Pilling resistance, longevity, and durability: Recognising the friction challenges that swimwear often encounters, we picked fabrics resistant to pilling. This not only guaranteed a consistently smooth appearance but also long-lasting quality.

✔ Quick-drying: No one likes sitting in a damp swimsuit for long. That's why our swim shorts for women, tried and tested by our team and founder, feature quick-drying properties.

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The art of balancing functionality and style.

There’s often a tug-of-war between style and practicality when it comes to swimwear. While certain clothing items prioritise aesthetic appeal, when it comes to women's swimwear, practicality isn't just a preference – it's a necessity. Kristen emphasises, "Functionality is critical in swimwear as it needs to perform under very specific conditions.”

Elaborating on this, she adds, “from the fabric to the fit and all the essential criteria outlined above, we designed Sheila’s debut collection to keep you going from moment to moment throughout your busy day, without all the wardrobe changes.”

According to Kristen, the success of such designs boils down to a few pivotal elements:

  • Understanding your audience: Our design process is based on our ideal customers. We think like them so that we can incorporate the details that matter to them most.
  • Designing with aesthetic in mind: We decided on a solid look for our debut collection, making colour selection critical. Opting for classic black was a no-brainer, but incorporating vibrant summer hues was integral to our overall aesthetic.
  • Selecting the right fabric: This was vital in our development to ensure the fabric met our performance criteria. After multiple iterations, we achieved our perfect blend of comfort and style.
  • Consider functional feature options: Clare envisioned elegant simplicity for her debut collection—prioritising essentials like adjustable straps and modest lining over excess bells and whistles.
  • Fit-focus: Ensuring a great fit involves testing features at each development stage. From our fit models' swimming laps, to the many squat tests on our bikini shorts, we put our designs to work.
  • Test and feedback Trusting a product comes from vigorous trials and hands-on experience. Our swimsuits were tested by a wide group - from team members to family, from friends to professional fit models. Clare herself even braved a chilly California pool to test our design!

A journey of finessing, Sheila's size-inclusive swimwear embodies Clare's vision and Kristen's craftsmanship. From the designer's desk to testing in California's cool waters, each piece is crafted with you in mind, ensuring style and function at every step.

For every ebb and flow, there’s Sheila: swimwear for land, sea, and life.