Meet the eco-chic swim label that doesn't compromise on style
A mutual childhood affection for Manly's Fairy Bower baths inspired the name of Fiona Ryn and Rupert Tapper's dive into swimwear. Now, living between London and Biarritz, the couple (in business and life) draws inspiration from powerful women - this season it is a 90s Helena Christensen - and sustainable practises to create innovative styles. Founded in 2015, the brand has already caught the eye of one of the world's most discerning retailers - Liberty London - and a roster of high profile fans such as Gisele Bundchen, Jessica Alba and Zippora Seven. Here, Divya Bala speaks to Fiona Ryn on all things ducking and diving.
What are your earliest memories of swimming?
When I was very young I lived in Marrickville, the beach wasn't super close so we would go to Petersham pool a lot. I remember just wearing a frilled white and red bikini bottom. Aside from that my fondest memories were living on Fairy Bower Rd in Manly as a teenager, spending long days at Shelly Beach, walking home barefoot, laying in the hammock in still salty swimwear and comparing tan lines.
How did Bower begin?
It began as an answer to the lack of good quality, contemporary swim available in Europe. I was so used to shopping such a great range growing up in Sydney but could only find either high street or super high end product when I came to London. The first piece we designed was our crossed back Fitzgerald One Piece - it really encapsulated the simplicity and quality we wanted the brand to be known for.
How have your collective geographies, (Sydney, London and Biarritz) influenced your aesthetic?
I think having lived in 3 very different cities it really has had a huge affect on our brand aesthetic. From Sydney we bring that care free, sun drenched vibe - it's the basis for starting the brand, swimwear that lasts for those long summers. London we get the clean, contemporary design to the brand. From Biarritz its that very French understated sexy, I think we definitely have a European eye which sets us apart. We chose Biarritz because after 8 years in London we were ready to be near the water again but weren't quite ready to head back to Sydney. Plus it's only 2 hours by plane back to Stansted, so the commute is a breeze.
When did you realise you were on to a good thing?
After our first season we were able to secure major retailers which really gave us confidence in our designs. I think we really felt we had arrived it after our first piece of major press - Gisele by Mario Testino for Vogue UK.
What sets Bower apart from other swim labels?
Swim is a tough category to find individulaty in. There is a lot of cross over but we just try to focus on what we like. We play with colour palette's that aren't the norm. Combining this with our ethical stand point and comittment to quality we elevate our simple cuts. In terms of aesthetic we try to maintain a sense of fun, a bit of that European tongue in cheek - it's swimwear after all.
What are the ethical practices you employ?
We strive to create a product that is ethically produced. From the fabrics we choose to where we maufacture. We currently work with mills in Italy that produce swim fabrics that are made from recycled polyamides which are created from repurposing fishing nets. The fabrics are more expensive but the quality is amazing. I love our hardware - it is 24 karat dipped rose gold so super resistant to rust and tarnishing. All our compenents are from Europe, we have met all our suppliers in person and have crossed checked all there working methods etc. We produce in a factory that we visit regularly allowing us to have a close relationship with the team. We know that everyone is paid fairly and the work standards are super high. This is the most important thing for us, knowing that every part of a Bower suit is created ethically gives us piece of mind.
How did the collab with Liberty London come about?
Eloise Rigby runs an amazing cult lingerie store called The Pantry in Islington. She was asked by Liberty to launch a lingerie and swim section and approached us to launch exclusively for Resort 18. It is such a honour to be part of this new collaboration. Being a Brtish brand it's so exciting to be stocked in such an iconic retailer.
How do you see Bower being styled and worn?
When you live somewhere like London it is such a shame to only get your swimwear for that one summer trip - our Ideal, Fitzgerald & White Horse one piece are perfectly paired back to our Jade Skirt or denim shorts. I often where the Tangiers & Catroux as bras, they are just the right amount of support and are much more comfortable than wearing underwired lingerie. A Bower suit isn't just for the beach.
For more, visit BowerSwimwear.com
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