Nettle’s Tale dives into feel-good swimwear

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An up-and-coming bathing-suit company is hoping to bring some of the innocence and joy back to swimming by creating pieces that women feel good in.

Nettle’s Tale Swimwear has been selling its body-flattering, vintage-look suits primarily online, but now women wanting a new beach look can head to its pop-up shop to check out the pieces themselves.

The temporary store is now open at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street), with a special midnight event on Wednesday (July 30) for which the shop will stay open from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday will close out the event from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The event marks a milestone for Julia Church, the brains behind Nettle’s Tale. The designer came up with the idea only a year ago, when she decided to re-create an old swimsuit she loved wearing because it emphasized and hid all the right places. Her roommate tried it on and loved it, and for Church, everything clicked.

“The idea of the company sort of dawned on me,” she told the Georgia Straight over coffee. “Why don’t more apparel companies, especially swimwear companies, care about how their product makes the woman feel in it?”

She got the wheels turning and recruited her friends and her mother as her first inspirations. From there, she set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise some money to start the business and was blown away by the response to her idea.

“I pledged 10 grand, then we reached it, and I was like, ‘Oh no, is 10 grand going to be enough to kind of do everything that we want to do?’ ” she said. “Then, like, three weeks in, there was four days where we went from 16 to over 40 grand.”

The campaign ended in May at over $70,000, seven times the amount she had initially aimed for. Since then, it’s been all she can do to keep up with the demand for her products.

“It’s definitely exciting for me that the brand is developing this quickly,” she said. “It’s neat.”

The influences for Church’s pieces come from both the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies, and vintage, Marilyn Monroe–type styles. In addition, every suit is fitted to the model’s body and personality.

“A lot of my inspiration comes from the woman that I’m designing for,” she said. “So, it’s kind of like a painter looks at the canvas. The woman’s sort of my canvas, so I’ll get an idea for the shape or the colours from whatever the woman’s needs are.”

One example of this unique combination is the Carli swimsuit ($149 for both pieces; like most of the designs, it’s named for the woman who inspired it), featuring a sports-bra-look top with black-and-white chevron stripes and adjustable straps. The bottom is high-waisted, ending at the slimmest part of the waist, with the diagonal pattern continuing along the rear. The front is a solid, deep eggplant with two black stripes running from top to bottom.

Magic Bottoms, which come in black, charcoal grey, or brown, adjust to fit at any part of your waist thanks to the ruching of the fabric in the front ($59). Pair them with the twisted Kimberly top with an adjustable halter strap ($70).

The designs have been ridiculously successful so far, and Church hopes to expand production in the future, while remaining loyal to her original Vancouver customers.

“I really do care about Vancouver and the greater Vancouver area as our customer base, so we’ll try to always make in-person shopping available to them,” she said. “But yeah, maybe in, like, a year or two, I’d love to have a retail space, for sure.”

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