You’ve probably heard the words, “Every body is a beach body,” haven’t you? Still, summer travel can be challenging. This week, Well + Good publishes All Bodies Are Beach Bodies — A Real Summer for Preparing for the Summer to help you hold on to your confidence, embrace fun, control sweats, create meaningful memories, and get great inspiration for summer swimwear of summer.
Anyone who has ever worn a bikini can tell you that finding the right suit is a difficult, perhaps frustrating, process. If you are brave enough to try it on in the store, you have unpleasant mirrors, lights, and changing room attendants to handle. Online, well, who knows what can be received by mail, not to mention what emotions it contains can provoke. Purchasing swimwear can be a test of confidence, and until the last few years, the brands of swimwear and their shaving ads for the great models bought in the pictures have not been simplified.
We sat down with Cameron Armstrong, CEO and founder of Kitty and Vibe, a swimsuit brand with the ultimate goal of making the purchase of swimwear a hobby rather than a daunting task. It is the first brand of swimwear to design the bikini bottoms according to the size of the buttocks, thus giving you the right amount of fabric to cover your figure, be it small or large. It is also the first brand of swimwear to send a “Vibes” playlist to boost confidence as well as all that is organized, coordinated to push you when you try to order. Everything, from a specific epilepsy, to a provocative imagery and vibrant styles, will do just that want buy your next swimsuit. Imagine that!
Read how Armstrong and the Kitty and Vibe team are changing the way we buy bikinis, why inclusion is more important than ever, and how we still have a lot more steps to do.
Well + Good: What is the story of Kitty and Vibe? How did it all start?
Cameron Armstrong: In the summer of 2017 I was just looking for a new swimsuit. I went to several different stores face to face and had a bad experience buying a suit, as many women do. You know, it’s the smallest amount of clothing we wear in public. It is a very dangerous product, but there is no definite standard in all brands — you are the largest in one brand, the youngest in the other. When you try it face-to-face, under the bright lights of the room with the waiter knocking on your door … it doesn’t feel like a safe place at home.
I ended up ordering swimwear online and none of those fit me well, and I was just amazed at how this great product that almost everyone owns is a product that causes pain and anxiety to buy. So, I was very motivated to start this brand because of the opportunity to turn something that was a bad experience into a positive one. The overall mission behind Kitty was actually to create a swimsuit that eventually felt like a friend rather than an enemy. The biggest difference for us is our size measurement, which offers two seam options for each hip size — just us [brand] which offers swimsuits in this way. That’s the technical difference behind Kitty, but at the end of the day, it’s our community that makes us stand out. I feel like we are one of the first brands that only understands the problems of swimwear — we find it difficult and we try to make it a better use for you.
W + G: There is really nothing worse than buying a swimsuit …
CA: Right? When I was doing my first draft design, I sent a general survey to as many women as I could to ask them how they felt about buying swimwear. The options were, ‘I love it’, ‘I like it’, ‘I don’t mind it’, and ‘I hate it’ — 98 percent of the 500 responses I received said they hated it. I was impressed by how strong it was to say, “Well, there’s a lot of negative energy here — we have to do better.”
W + G: What role does physical fitness and involvement play in Kitty & Vibe brand values and road map?
CA: As soon as you look at our site, you will see women who look just like you. We use our customers as our designs — there is an app on our website where anyone can submit a request to emulate. That way, when we take pictures, we filter the app based on the city and hire real people. When you shop online, you should see people who are similar you.
We also make goodness and compassion our commitment to [encouraging our shoppers] be generous to yourself, and by creating a community that is diverse. Obviously, there are a lot of companies that have jumped on the inclusion train with an extended size, but are they like them or not. proudly show those sizes – do they display those models on their website? Do they really sell those products? That’s one of the things I’m most proud of from what we’ve built in Kitty and Vibe — we sell as many small ones as we do 2XL.
And we do not always lead by saying, “We offer small swimming sizes up to 5X.” We say, “Hello, we are the first to make a bikini according to yours butt size, and we will make this product feel more friendly. “At this point, every brand needs to offer a full range of sizes, no excuses anymore. I don’t think it could be your only reason for existence. [as a business.]
W + G: Can you explain how the size model works? Are there any plans to expand it?
CA: Butt growth came to be because I always had low-cut bikini bottoms. I don’t have a very big butt, so I would get out of the water and it would be like a diaper. Then, I have friends who have the opposite issue, who have bigger butts and can never get enough fabric.
In the early stages of Kitty’s development, I held focus groups in my small home in New York where I would test everyone who came. I found that the size of the crotch inseam, aka “Kitty,” was a huge difference. I would have two friends with two identical hip sizes, and one seam three inches higher than the other. So it was just kind of silly.
It is clear that a swimsuit is a leather-type garment, so this extra measure was very important to provide the best fit for the bottom. In Kitty and Vibe, each floor comes in two sizes, small and large. So, if we have a lace bikini that should be a very navy style, this only allows it to be the same part of the cheek on the smaller buttocks and larger buttocks. We have so many different preferences for covering — long waist, straps — it just allows you to have the same look in different body types.
We won our client by butt size and would like to expand in further differentiation with our heads. I think we have a good place to start as we offer AH cup sizes in different styles, but there are a few styles, such as scoop or sports bra heads, where bands are not exactly the same in band sizes. For example, a client may have a large cup size but a small band. We are in the middle of making some band sizes for adjustable heads. We have also launched our Google Play Clothing as we dip our toes into athletics. We looked at the gym clothes market and found that there were no more options than the 2XL size. We took our most popular publications and made costumes, added a built-in shelf bra and designed it from our swimwear, so you could swim in it as well.
W + G: What role does swimwear play in self-esteem? How did this come about, and why do you think more brands are “waking up” to this?
CA: Our theme in Kitty and Vibe is available to awaken and inspire personal love for a beautiful world. We believe that the ability to feel personal love is within everyone, and that a suitable swimwear can reflect that feeling in you and in others as well.
“Every body is a bikini body” is like a hot new slogan, and that’s fine, but I want to see how the brands support it. I think I get a little frustrated when I see them preach that phrase and you go to their website and their examples are still airborne — you have to have that trust to support it. Extending the size layers is great because it addresses the fact that not only is the size straight, the slim body is a bikini body, but you need to be supported. It’s a shopping experience that I think you need a lot of work for having a lot of brands totally dedicated to not taking pictures or brushing. I think we have a long way to go. I mean, I still hear arguments like, “Yes, but you’re selling this covetous picture of how you can look. [in a bikini]”And that’s very bad – you only develop standards of beauty that are not real.
That’s when I think Kitty and Vibe come out because we practice what we preach by listening to our community. When we launch a new style or publication, also known as the “Vibe,” we send Instagram votes and email inquiries first. We include them in conversations from the beginning and we can develop them by getting them to wear products and stars in our campaigns. Crowded views are in the DNA of our brand, and that is why I think we have created so much energy [customer] honesty.
W + G: What role do swimwear brands play when it comes to consumers?
CA: Some of the larger, more successful swimming pools out there have begun to expand or offer larger sizes, but still use larger structures that have a much better proportions, pleasing bodies that fit different levels, even within the community. It is dangerous because it feels like they are gaining the reputation of showing a large body, even if it is still not accessible to the masses.
I think the first step is really into photoshopping and making sure the bodies are real, more than just running and weight. Make sure the skin is completely calm. Even though I am physically fit, slim, white, and fit, the biggest thing that has kept me from feeling good about my bikini is my skin. I’ve been suffering from acne all my life, especially on my back, which is why I was so irritated every time I wore a swimsuit to the beach because I always tried to cover it up. We are actually trying to include people with different skin tones and conditions or anything that exceeds this type of smooth skin, because that is not true. Bodybuilding should also go beyond just weight and should include different skins, amputations, disabilities – there is a lot of work to be done, for us as well. I want to continue to show more body types than race and weight.
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