It’s been a year, hasn’t it? By now, you deserve a staycation or at least some time in your home spa or hot tub. So shuck the sweat pants and hoodie and treat yourself to a chic swimsuit.
You may not be renting a private island in Tahiti or dashing off to Saint-Tropez or St. Barts anytime soon because of the pandemic, but a boy or girl can dream, right?
With future travel — and better days — on our mind, we rounded up 12 swimwear brands that are making a splash. Slip a chic bikini or one-piece on for size and be immediately mentally transported to your favorite tropical vacation spot. (You’ll be back there IRL one day.)
In the 2020 spirit of spotlighting Black creative people, our roundup focuses on Black designers.
Castamira’s Gia swimsuit in bleached copper ($198) is the quintessential one-piece. Its tie shoulder straps and ruffle detailing add a feminine touch to a classically flattering silhouette. Founded by Chantel Davis, Castamira is inspired by the Jamaican-born former Wilhelmina model’s experience in the fashion industry. The brand, available at castamira.com, utilizes eco-friendly materials and green packaging for its body-contouring designs.
Diarrablu’s figure-flattering, abstract polka-dot-print Nabu swimsuit in Kailua ($125) can also be worn as a bodysuit. Founded by Diarra Bousso, Diarrablu embraces sustainable practices while pulling design inspiration from Africa’s lush landscape. Bousso’s pieces are produced in Dakar, Senegal, where Bousso was born. Fun fact: Bousso is a creative mathematician and multidisciplinary artist. She started her professional career on Wall Street as a structured products trader and asset finance analyst but left to pursue her passion for design. Her collections are available at diarrablu.com.
3. Keva J Swimwear
Keva J Swimwear’s Gigi asymmetrical bikini top ($55) and bottom ($55) feature peekaboo details and an adjustable shoulder strap. Designer Keva Johnson launched her namesake label in 2007, and her designs have been worn by Ciara, Ashanti, Rita Ora and Kim Kardashian West. Other pieces can be found at kevabykevaj.com.
4. Fe Noel
Fe Noel’s Nutmeg swimsuit ($198) from her Daughter of the Soil collection is a one-piece that features a stunning hand-printed design. Available in two colors, Caribbean mint and beige, the made-to-order suits are crafted in New York. The Nutmeg swimsuit can be worn as a bodysuit, paired with the brand’s wide-leg pants. Fe Noel’s eponymous lifestyle womenswear brand, which pulls inspiration from the designer’s Caribbean heritage, has a fan following that includes Beyoncé, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Gabrielle Union. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based designer launched a clothing line in 2012, which has evolved into her namesake label, available at fenoel.com.
Lemlem’s Lena bandeau top ($125) and high-waisted bottom ($125) are fashioned from Repreve, an eco-friendly fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The swimsuit’s dark olive design features a detachable tie front detail so that the top can be worn two ways, while the bottom includes a subtle bow detail on the back. Model Liya Kebede founded the label after visiting her native Ethiopia, where she met a community of artisans. A portion of sales from lemlem.com benefits the Lemlem Foundation, which aids female artisans in Africa by connecting them with healthcare, education and career guidance.
6. MBM Swim
MBM Swim’s Rebel monochromatic one-piece swimsuit ($150) is as sophisticated as it is sexy. Designed by Marcia B. Maxwell, the brand embraces timeless silhouettes — with modern twists courtesy of cutouts and sheer fabrics. Maxwell’s collection of structured swimwear, which is available at mbmswim.com, was conceived in 2017 and officially launched in 2019.
7. Avid Swim
Avid Swim’s trendy Zinae halter triangle bikini top and tie-waist bikini bottom ($119 for the set) are from the brand’s Wild Escape collection. The best part? Your significant other can coordinate with you in the label’s black-and-white Zinae Trunx ($98), fashioned from a lightweight fabric and featuring an adjustable drawstring waistband. All pieces are UPF 40+. Launched in 2010, Avid Swim is a sustainable swimwear brand based in New York. Founded by designer Gionna Nicole, the label works with manufacturers that utilize eco-friendly fabrics and low-impact dyes. The brand, available at avidswim.com, also offers accessories such as belt bags, coverups and a travel bag (perfect for when we can travel without worry).
8. Jade Swim
Jade Swim’s asymmetrical Sena one-piece swimsuit ($220) and strapless Highlight one-piece swimsuit ($220) are sleek swimwear staples. The bathing suits are made in Los Angeles using shape-retention technology and UV-protective fabrics. Jade Swim was launched in 2016 by former Marie Claire fashion editor Brittany Kozerski. Kendall Jenner is among the celebrities who have been spotted in Kozerski’s chic minimalist designs. Both styles and other swimwear are available at jadeswim.com.
Inspired by African culture, the company’s colorful, innovative swimsuits are by Nigerian American designer Buki Ade. BFyne’s Tahai top and bottom are sold as a set for $191.99 at bfyne.com.
10. Lavie by CK
L.A.-based designer Claude Kameni’s ready-to-wear label Lavie by CK has been worn by Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross and Janet Jackson. In late August, the brand launched its first swimwear collection. Kameni introduced the pieces in collaboration with models from the Diigitals during a Miami Swim Week digital presentation with virtual model Shudu. The 12-piece Le Voyage collection of men’s and women’s pieces was inspired by Kameni’s Cameroon roots as well as her father’s travel company. Our top picks? Lavie by CK’s Mozambique one-piece ($130), which features a black and gold leaf print, as well as the label’s Cancun button-down and swim-shorts set ($200). laviebyck.com
Öfuurë’s Semira top ($50) and bottom ($50) feature a blue, orange and white African print. The two-piece bikini includes buckle details and is available at ofuure.com. Öfuurë is an African fashion label that also sells colorful maxi dresses and activewear. The brand — its name is a nod to Edo state in southern Nigeria and the Ishan word ofure, which means “it is well” — was founded in 2015 by designer Tehilah Abakasanga.
12. Andrea Iyamah
Andrea Iyamah’s Mina one-piece swimsuit ($180) is pure eye candy. The cap sleeve halter design features sexy cutouts in all the right places. Founded by Nigerian fashion designer Andrea Iyamah in 2011, the brand is known for its vibrant contemporary clothing and resort wear, available at andreaiyamah.com.