N.B. swimwear sisters headed to Miami runway
Posted on April 11, 2023 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments
The sisters Leger, co-owners of New Brunswick-based Sisterly Swimwear, have been steadily building their business for a few years. They’re readying now to hit the runway as part of a “ones to watch” showcase at Miami Swim Week.
Isabelle Leger says she and sister Olivia Leger are going to be working with eight models, showing new designs never seen before. They had to apply for a chance at the opportunity and were selected by a designer panel tasked with reviewing hundreds of applications from designers wanting a slot in the collaborative show. The show is curated by Flying Solo, down to the invite list of fashion journalists, celebrities and social media influencers in the main audience.
Isabelle told Atlantic Business Magazine it will be the sisters’ first experience with a runway show. “We’re really excited,” she added, highlighting the chance to learn and have their work seen, but also network at a new level.
The Legers are already deep into preparing for the show, including follow-up to ensure they have different size models to show their sustainable, body-positive swimwear.
“We want to make sure that we present ourselves in a way that represents our company,” Isabelle Leger said, adding inclusivity is essential.
The roots of Sisterly Swimwear go back to before the COVID-19 pandemic, when Olivia Leger was in Australia and struggling to find a swimsuit she was happy with, that fitted her body the way she wanted. “So she started making them. She taught herself how to sew,” Isabelle said.
Isabelle said that after her sister returned to Canada, she went to visit her mother in Calgary for a time. While in Western Canada, she ended up walking on a beach, and had someone gush over her swimwear, asking where she’d picked it up. It wasn’t long after that she asked Isabelle about starting the company together.
“With my passion for environmental studies, I said ‘I would love to do it, but we would need to do it in an environmentally sustainable way,’” Isabelle said.
They began investigating all aspects, including potential fabric suppliers, ultimately sourcing fabric from Italy made from recycled fish nets and even “carpet fluff,” she says, carved from carpets otherwise headed for a landfill in their entirety. Their fabric manufacturer also relies on wind power and recycles water, attempting to minimize any wastewater from their facility, Isabelle said.
In 2021, after getting up and running, the sisters reached out to a list of social media influencers, providing handmade suits, until one decided to check out the product in earnest. New York-based Deanna Giulietti made a post to TikTok in the spring of 2021 and sales picked up markedly, with the company hiring another seamstress to help fill custom orders.
“It just kind of blew up. We didn’t realize that it would,” Isabelle said.
The sisters and Giulietti then collaborated on a collection. While the company’s earliest launch saw maybe 10-15 orders, Isabelle Leger said, a launch day in early 2022 saw 300 orders. “We had no idea that was going to happen. We sold out all of our fabric,” she said.
The spike in demand led them to investigate alternative manufacturing options; the company is now working with a manufacturer in Bali, Indonesia—one Isabelle said was vetted and selected for a number of reasons, including things like environmental conditions, pay above the minimum wage and competitive vacation allowances.
“We still have a seamstress here locally who does custom orders. That’s where our company started,” she said, adding that’s also how the company assures customers can still ask for things like a particular make with “extra bum coverage,” or otherwise get the kind of fit that inspired the company’s start. The company’s biggest market is the United States, although Sisterly Swimwear suits have gone to buyers all around the world at this point.
They have worked with Giulietti again on their new collection.
“What an honor to work with Sisterly Swim again on this collection!,” stated Giulietti, in a statement provided through her team at The Sociable Society. “Chase (Bergey) and I were able to collab on these amazing designs that we cannot wait to show the world at Miami Swim Week. We were able to dedicate pieces to my sister and to my bestie @zozoroe so this is a very special collection that we are so proud of!”
The sisters have been bringing the many ideas together, and say they’re holding fast to achieving comfort for everyone at the beach or pool.
“I’m really excited to promote sustainable fashion, size inclusivity and I can’t wait for that to be on the Miami Swim Week stage,” Isabelle said.
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