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This article is from our Fashion-Insider Angela Krewenchuk. Angela regularly provides Retail Insider with fashion updates on the latest trends with her own unique and knowledgeable fashion perspective
As I draft this article I am sitting at Third Beach in Stanley Park (otherwise known as the jewel of Vancouver). My attire consists of a turquoiseFenntessa ruched-bottomed bikini; a bandeau top and bucketful’s of SFF 45. My beach companions today span two generations other than my Generation X. I have the privilege of sharing this afternoon with my mother: A Baby boomer, and my Grandmother (Bob Hope generation).
Girls at beach clad in Fenntessa [Image Source]
I am about to share with you may own personal journey into body acceptance partially made possible by the designers of Fenntessa bikinis. I have come to understand that being a member of the Heroine Chic and Kate Moss generation had damaged my body confidence or what is sometimes referred to as my mojo. About two summers ago I noticed a group of pretty, confident, young women who would habitually stake out the North portion of Third Beach clad in similarly styled swimsuits. I would later learn that they were wearing the swimsuit line Fenntessa. The brand name Fenntessa is an amalgamation of the two (designer, entrepreneur) sisters last names Cami Tessa-Rush and Robyn Tessa-Rush.
Fenntessa bootie shot [Image Source]
What stunned me about this line of swimwear was that the back of the bikini bottoms are ruched in a very revealing manner, at least by Canadian standards. Shall we say that the swimsuit bottoms were designed with the express intent of setting off ones assets in the best light possible. These confident young women exhibited no outward signs of body consciousness having- ahem – their amazing assets showcased. I envied their confidence and marvelled at how far we have come along no longer living under the tyrannical fashion grip of the waif aesthetic.
Fenntessa friends clad in Fenntessa [Image Source]
These ladies clearly ate nutritional food (possibly of the Whole-Pay-Cheque variety) and worked out. They were slim for sure – but slim of the healthy, physically fit, I do yoga, eat wholesome food, and don’t smoke variety. Not of the, I do lines of coke and chase the dragon on the weekday variety. I would later learn while interviewing the designers that it was indeed this very group of ladies, being their personal friends that they chose to model their Fenntessa collections from 2012, and 2013. In fact, Robyn stated, “it’s our friends that model in the shows, we just happen to have very pretty friends”, and indeed this was well evidenced on the runway.
Old fashioned swimwear [Image Source]
One morning late June as I prepared to start my day with a coffee while the morning news was on in the background a makeover segment appeared. The young woman having the makeover was in her early thirties and worried about following a bunch of antiquated fashion rules. Rules dictating appropriate attire for a woman in her thirties and up such as, wearing muted makeup, having hair that is not too long, wearing skirts that are not too short, and no white after Labour Day and on and on. Tragic and boring.
Sexy old fashioned rulers /rules [Image Source]
Hearing this lady recite the old fashion rules made me reflect upon which, if any of these dictates were relevant anymore. I attended the Fenntessa swimsuit fashion show late June and the cogs in my mind began rapidly turning. I’m going to be thirty-nine in October. I thought to myself, “what if I bought one of the swimsuits from the Fenntessa 2013 line, was I too old to wear their revelling suits at my age, would I look undignified highlighting my hind-quarters, would people think I was trying to relive my long since passed twenties. Would the guy that I was dating at the time think that it was inappropriate swimwear on me,” and on and on went my internal committee.
Sister’s symbiosis [Image Source]
A few days later I met with the two Fenntessa designers to interview them and ask them about how they started, where they wanted to go, and what served as their inspiration. We met in a hip Gastown cafe and talked swimsuit fashion for well over an hour. Robyn and Cammi (the Fenntessa designers) related to me that their business partnership was exceptionally symbiotic and that each sister’s strengths complemented the others. Cami has a master’s degree in fashion design from a well-regarded design school in Italy and Robyn is a communications expert. By virtue of blood they stated that they are able to communicate their vision and desires to one and other and be easily understood. A huge business asset. They also hinted that the market was pushing them to design even more revealing suits for 2014. Something I now look forward to reviewing and purchasing due to my newfound Fenntessa bikini body confidence.
The Fenntessa line started a little over two years and has undergone steady growth. This is a swimwear line to keep on your fashion radar. I did quite a bit of research regarding this city’s swimwear offerings earlier in the SS 2013 season and can easily report that there is a huge void in our local marketplace. In effect, if you are shopping for a bathing suit there are all of the old standbys (Joe Fresh, H&M and on and on). If you want something special The Room at Hudson’s Bay currently has nothing to offer and Holt Renfrew has a few conservative pieces but I did not see anything that seriously wowed me. If you want something on the sexy side all we really have available in Vancouver at present are the offerings found at the snowboard and surf stores clustered on West Fourth in Kitsilino. Searching though, nearly all of the suits offered at the various surf stores I determined that they have a very young aesthetic and it is nearly impossible to find something that does not have Roxy or Volcom splashed across either the bottom or breast. Such sophomoric logos I believe are not befitting a thirty-nine year old woman and above. Then we have the mass chain specially swimsuit stores which again, I found to be pretty conservative and frankly BLAH.
Now there, back to me. I left my interview with Robyn and Cami of Fenntessa with a gorgeous turquoise suit. I was determined to let go of my various body issues such as being ghostly pale and wear it to the beach several time’s in the name of conducting qualitative research. My research would examine mulit-generation approaches to fashion with a focus on what the current cultural climate norms are determining “age appropriate swimwear” for women in my age category and upwards
My first research foray to the beach happened with a man I was dating at the time. Admittedly, it was a small sample group with the possibility of providing biased data. A quick questionnaire revealed that this particular sample group liked the Fenntessa aesthetic and stated that there were no longer rules about what a lady can and cannot wear. He essentially said, “if you like it, feel confident, and it looks good, go-for-it.” I wore the suit again on a beach excursion with a group of hot, urban, gay male friends who again scoffed at my questions regarding age appropriate attire and echoed the sentiments of the guy I had been dating. The final data collection survey occurred when I went to the beach with my mother and grandmother. They would tell me the truth if they thought that the suit was inappropriate. Trust me, my mother can dish it out when necessary. Astonishingly, they both approved of the swimsuit.
My in-depth qualitative research revealed that there are no longer rules dictating what a woman should and should not wear. – especially to the beach. I had survey samples from generation Y, generation X, the Baby Boomer generation, and the Bob Hope Generation. As I report this I can already see the smiles on Cami and Robyn’s faces. They had already told me this at our meeting and showed me a picture of their GORGEOUS 60 something mother looking AMAZING in one of their bikinis. However, in the name of qualitative research I found it necessary to prove their fashion hypothesis in an easily replicated study.
In the final analysis I will assert that there is going to be exciting growth in North America over then next few years in the availability of unique swimwear. Why do I feel so sure in this assessment? Several weeks I had the pleasure of attending the Bella Mia Boutique fashion show in Vancouver produced by the LuvnGrace Affair Entertainment company. After attending the show I met with Olga, the owner of the boutique and she excitedly told me about the free-trade agreement between Canada and Columbia that came to fruition slightly over 2 years ago. This has inspired Olga to set up a North American distribution network for emergent brands such as Fenntessa (manufactured in Columbia) and other hot Columbian swimwear lines. Due to the creation of this solid distribution network it is only a matter of time until we see a whole new and improved wave of beach attire become available. Frankly, I can’t wait to see this happen and have already let the Fenntessa designers know that I will want a black suit for SS 2014.
If you are interested in having a local fashion show produced by LuvnGrace Affair please contact http://www.luvngraceaffair.com. If you are a swimsuit designer interested in having your product distributed via Olga’s growing distribution network contact http://bella-mia-boutique.ca. Lastly, if you have a store, or are an individual interested in accessing the Fenntessa line they can be reached at http://www.fenntessa.com. Lastly, if you are interested in contacting the primary Fenntessa photographer (Jessica DesBrisay) she can be reached athttp://fenntessa.tumblr.com/post/40462325392/friends-of-fenntessa
Ciao For now dear readers! xoxo,
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