Vancouver's Londrë makes a splash with recycled-plastic swimwear

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      One-piece bathing suits aren’t exactly known for their forgiving fits, but one Vancouver duo is hoping to shake up the market with its chic—and eco-minded—take on the skintight swimwear.

      Looking for a way to merge their interests in travel, fashion, and sustainability, friends Ainsley Rose and Hannah Todd recently launched Londrë Bodywear, a line of swim-appropriate bodysuits crafted using a stretchy compression fabric that’s derived chiefly from castoff plastic water bottles. The idea came about during a trip to Mexico—perhaps after one too many margaritas, Rose admits—when the women were lamenting the lack of flattering one-piece bathing suits available on the market.

      “We found that one-pieces were either really extreme—like going to Vegas, really aggressive high cuts—or they’re for competitive swimming or very matronly,” Todd, on the line with Rose, tells the Straight by phone. “And we really wanted to create a middle ground that we thought was missing.”

      After months of research and product development, the pair has come up with two stripped-down styles that jell just as well on land as they do at sea. (Or any body of water, for that matter.) Uncomplicatedly sexy, with just the right amount of coverage, the Minimalist ($120) features a deep scoop neck and low back, while the Multiway ($135) employs a plunging V-neck and extra-long straps that the wearer may play with to create six different looks. (Wrap the straps around your neck to create an on-trend choker, for example, or crisscross them around your torso for a more striking suit.)

      Both pieces are made ethically in Vancouver and include a cheeky butt cut with slight ruching at the back. They’re available in black and white. “We’ve had consistent feedback that it’s the most flattering one-piece that they [our customers] have tried on,” says Rose, who also serves as the brand’s photographer.

      Londrë founders Ainsley Rose (pictured left) and Hannah Todd each wear the Minimalist suit.
      Ainsley Rose / Alaina Michelle

      The recycled fabric, which is produced at a Taiwanese textile facility with the highest eco-certification available, is treated with ChitoSanté, a natural agent made from crab and shrimp shells that helps stop unpleasant bacteria and odours from forming. The result is a durable and super-comfy suit that moves effortlessly with your body while highlighting—and holding in—all the right bits.

      The matte, rather than shiny, finish on the garments also makes them appropriate for everyday wear. “It works equally well as a swimsuit as it does underneath a skirt or high-waist jeans,” explains Todd.

      This versatility is key to Londrë’s commitment to Mother Nature. “From a sustainability perspective,” adds Rose, “if you can buy one thing that functions as two, you’re consuming less.”

      Since launching nearly three months ago, Londrë—its name a made-up word that Rose and Todd favoured because “it sounds like laundry and lingerie”—has received orders from as far away as Australia and the United States. The twosome, who met during a photo shoot for Todd’s now defunct health-and-wellness startup, believes that more people are seeing the value in sustainable fashion as the environmental impact of the textile industry comes to light.

      “I think that the way people are consuming things is changing,” says Rose. “People are looking for items that they really love and will find lots of uses for instead of buying something from a mass retailer for $10 that’s more likely to be thrown away.”

      They’re also hoping to shift public perceptions about eco-minded apparel, some of which may be viewed as unappealing or “hippie”. “Just because you’re buying something sustainable and it’s green,” Todd says, “doesn’t mean it has to be granola.”

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.