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Make space for swimsuits, the new casual wear

Indian designer brands are re-imagining swimwear as a versatile garment

Shivan and Narresh’s Sarini (half sari, half monikini)
Shivan and Narresh’s Sarini (half sari, half monikini) (Courtesy Shivan and Narresh)

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Swimwear is no longer meant just for the pool or the beach. As people begin travelling again, designers are expanding the utility of beachwear, ensuring it can transition easily into a casual look meant for a brunch with friends or even an evening party.

According to Aakriti Grover, founder of Flirtatious, designing the swimsuit as a closet chameleon is a way to make the section more attractive and user-friendly. “The swimwear is now extremely versatile and easily lends itself to diverse styling hacks. It’s high time the perspective around it changed.” Swim pieces are being designed as seasonless classics that can easily be part of daywear, be it strappy and cutout details and separates like cover-ups or reversible swim pieces.

Also read: Timeless yet trendy swimwear for your next beach vacation

Anjali Patel Mehta of Verandah, for instance, has made her creations fluid, styling swimwear with ready-to-wear pieces. “After the pandemic, there are not too many rules to dressing. The present definition of beach glam means you can pair a chic triangle-cut bralette with a pair of pants and a crochet gilet, and go anywhere in them—to the beach, a meeting with friends in a mall, or for a party at night,” she says.


Flirtatious’ halter swimsuit layered with a cover-up.
Flirtatious’ halter swimsuit layered with a cover-up. (Courtesy Flirtatious)

A hit formula to make these transitional pieces work, she says, is to create garments that make a style statement “yet are classic enough to keep in the wardrobe across seasons. It also helps in pairing.” For instance, she suggests, a strappy beach halter or a one-piece with edgy cut-outs would work well with a draped printed scarf skirt. You can even pair your pool sari with a bikini top, or team a bandeau top with a pair of trousers—stepping up for cocktail hour.

Whether it’s designer label Shivan and Narresh’s cross-cut, hand-painted maillots, Flirtatious’ colour-blocked maillots with cut-out details, or E L Swimwear’s reversible trikinis in hand-painted watercolour illustrations, the market is full of swimwear choices that clash artfully with pret separates.

Narresh Kukreja, the creative director of Shivan & Narresh, says the swimwear industry in India is seeing a nostalgic wave of DIY styling that was prevalent during the 1990s. “Gen Z are twisting and turning the swimwear and repackaging it for their own generation. Hence, you see a lot of these strappy, slinky bikini tops with halter straps. They are being worn as separates, with a pair of trousers or with a low-waist skirt,” he says.

The plunge-neck one-piece in strong prints has become a key trend lately, says Mehta. “You can pair it with jeans or chic paperbag shorts and you are good to go.” She has also been experimenting with surf suits in summer neutrals which double up as bodysuits and can be styled with ready-to-wear pieces.

It’s no longer about matching your clothes or aping a look-book. “A bandeau with a rugged pair of low-rise denims or a skimpy top with bell- bottom trousers can look chic for a cocktail night,” notes Narresh, whose sensual and clingy pool sari has become a popular pick over the seasons. The bikini sari, as it’s called, can be worn with ease and versatility, with a belt or with trousers, shorts or a bathing suit inside. “It’s apt for a beach-to-bar look,” he plugs.

Home-grown brands are even trying to offer as many sizes as possible. “Everything that we offer in the collection can be purchased—from UK 6 to UK 24. It’s all at the same price. We also offer customised swimwear in case you don’t fall into any of the standardised sizes,” says Narresh, adding that they are open to exploring gender-fluid swimsuits if they get orders. “We would love to see anyone come in and buy a one-shoulder style from us. I have been wanting to wear a one-shoulder vest myself. It’s the fit that matters.”

Agrees Mehta, whose brand offers sizes up to UK 18. “It’s not about size, it’s about fit, comfort and how chic and sexy good swimwear can make you feel, and, most importantly, the places you can take it to beyond the sea. Usability rules.”

Also read: Are you shopping for a new swimsuit? Try a recycled one



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