When my Nana was alive, she had to shop in the basement of the local shoe store because she wore a size 11 double-narrow and that’s where a limited, decidedly unglamorous supply of untraditional sizes was kept. Such as it is for women today that wear above a size 12, who are routinely left to settle for options much less scintillating than their straight-sized counterparts. Plus-sized women are relegated to a metaphorical “basement,” and with the average woman today wearing a size 16, there is hardly anything rare or untraditional about it (unlike my Grandmother’s flipper feet).
But thankfully, this is starting to shift because if there’s one thing 2016 has been good for, it’s body positivity. In the past year alone this powerful movement has accelerated with Ashley Graham’s Sports Illustrated Swim Issue cover; various barrier-breaking projects such as Refinery29’s 67 Percent Project, the All Woman Project, and Project HEAL’s #WhatMakesMeBeautiful campaign, and, several under-the-radar brands’ inclusive sizing expansions. One such brand making waves is Phylyda, a super-smart swimwear brand for women of all sizes.
Launched in early 2016 by designer Lydia Maurer, who previously worked for Yves Saint Laurent, Rue de Mail, Givenchy, and most recently as the creative director for Paco Rabanne, Phylyda crafts fashion-forward swimwear separates up to a size 18 and 42F bra size.
As a woman designing for women, it no longer felt acceptable to make clothing that set unattainable body image goals
“During my career, I started to yearn for a more honest and kind approach toward women,” Maurer told me. “As a woman designing for women, it no longer felt acceptable to make clothing that set unattainable body image goals and which make women blame their bodies for not fitting in the limited size offer of luxury fashion,” she said, adding that, “It seems ludicrous that women beyond a size 12 have almost no choice in this matter.”
This was the impetus for Phylyda, which she hopes will chip away at dated standards for women and make shopping for swimwear less of a dreadful experience. “I wanted to start changing that on my own terms—making size-inclusive products that are also produced fairly with the best fabrics and techniques,” she said. All of Phylyda’s separates are made using exclusive Italian fabrics, SPF 50 protection, and caffeine micro-encapsulated Italian lining meant to make every woman look–and more importantly–feel her best.
With Phylyda, I want to create a brand that doesn’t divide women because of their size.
“Fashion is such an integral part to our culture and more often than not it has such a destructive effect on women. With Phylyda, I want to create a brand that doesn’t divide women because of their size. Rather, I would like to unite them, and to offer them access to the spirit that fashion can be inclusive and create a space of kindness, where self-love and personal charisma trump body anxiety.”
The response so far, she says, has been overwhelmingly positive, and Maurer has high hopes that more designers will follow suit in offering responsibly-made garments for all women–not just plus or straight size. “It has been a great year for body positivity; so many brilliant and brave women are speaking out and I find this to be so liberating. Along with more awareness, I hope that high-end department stores and multi-brand shops will finally open up to the body positive reality and offer women of all sizes beautifully (and responsibly) made products.”