“Not Every Plus-Size Woman Wants To Hide”: CURVYKINI Is Bringing Sexy And Support To Plus-Size Swimwear
Buying swimwear is hard for just about everybody. If you’re not trying to find a suit that provides some actual support, you’re looking for something with the right cut that shows off some skin, but not every ounce of it. But for plus-size women, the search can be even more tedious. Khaaliqa Squire knows this struggle firsthand.
“I’d look for sexy swim in my size and it was very difficult, and the stuff that I did find was cheap and not of the quality that I was seeking,” she said. “Curvy women also deserve luxury swimwear and pieces that they can add to their collection, not throwaway $30 suits that last for one summer and offer questionable, minimal support.”
That’s why she launched her own luxury swimwear line called CURVYKINI in 2016. A designer who worked in fashion for the last 13 years, including in lingerie, Squire used her experience sketching sexy undergarments and brought that inspiration to plus-size swimwear. Instead of unattractive swim dresses and shiny, sheeny pieces that leave your curves compromised, Squire’s line isn’t about covering up anything, while supporting everything. Find out more about this Black-owned line through our chat with this entrepreneur.
MadameNoire: What was the inspiration behind launching this line?
Khaaliqa Squire: The inspiration behind launching this line was the absence in the market of sexy, daring, trendy plus swimwear. Most plus-swimwear lines focus on covering the plus body in absurd swim dresses, culottes and shorts. There is this huge misconception that plus-size women are ashamed of their bodies and of their curves! I worked in NYC as a lingerie designer for 10 years and this was often the pushback that I would get when trying to design sexy lingerie for women over size 10. I was constantly being told that “plus-size women want boy shorts” and “Would a plus size woman wear a thong?” and all kinds of alternative facts being expressed to me by non plus-size women in power. The issue is that most plus-size brands are designed by women who are a size four and have no concept or real-life experience about being a plus-size woman. To add to the problem, most brands who design plus sizes do not do fittings on a plus-size model. They simply take a straight size pattern and grade it up. This doesn’t work! Fitting on a plus-size body is a completely different thing, and it doesn’t work to simply grade up. This is why even the new lines that are coming out, think GabiFresh and Ashley Graham for Swimsuits for All, have fit issues. I knew that by me being a size 12/14, that I would know exactly how a curvy woman wants her swimwear to fit and what we expect it to do and how we expect it to perform. I love my body, my husband loves my body and every inch of my curvy frame. I’ve never had an issue attracting partners who didn’t constantly praise my fleshy body! So, I wondered, where did this misconception come from? Why is it that plus-size women are being made to feel non-desirable? This is the message that I received when I went to purchase a swimsuit in a size 14 from Macy’s and it was a $150 swim dress. I was 29. I didn’t want to wear a swim dress, and I knew I wasn’t the only curvy woman to feel this way. I knew that this was a huge myth and that not every plus-size woman wants to hide. They want to show their curves just like their petite friends on South Beach. I wanted to design sexy swimsuits that accentuated the best parts of a curvy woman’s body while keeping fit in mind. CURVYKINI is luxury, high-quality swimwear that smooths and shapes without covering those sexy curves. CURVYKINI is the answer to the high-end brands sold at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, but in an inclusive size range of 10-24.
As you mentioned, the perception tends to be that the best swimsuits for plus-size women are the one-pieces or options that cover one up in different ways. If you type plus-size swimwear in via Google, that’s what you see. Why was it important for you to debunk that with your line?
It was important for me to debunk the idea that idea with CURVYKINI because the average size woman in the U.S. is a size 16. We all have different body types, and that diversity is what makes us beautiful. A size six woman is not automatically more desirable than a size 16 woman. She’s also not more deserving of fashion that caters to her body type and makes her feel like a sex goddess. I wanted to show, yes, this is a curvy woman, she’s a size 20, and she’s rocking this bikini. Now be careful not to drool all over yourself.
Do you have a favorite look from your most recent line?
My favorite look from my most recent line is Zoé. It’s a sporty, color blocked, monokini that looks good on every body. I fit each piece on myself with my pattern maker, so this piece, in particular, I designed to compliment plus-size women with smaller busts. Another issue I often see with plus swim is that it is assumed that we all have huge breasts, which is just not the case. In the past, my little D-cups often disappeared in plus tops. Zoé is very low cut and gives maximum cleavage, and it’s simply my favorite piece.
There are sites like Swimsuits for All, which as you mentioned has GabiFresh’s line, that are starting to make a name for themselves in the plus-size swimwear scene. Why should people give CURVYKINI a chance, aside from the opportunity to buy Black?
Aside from the opportunity to buy Black, people should give CURVYKINI a chance because the fit is there, the quality is there, the style is there. Women don’t have to pick between high fashion and quality. CURVYKINI has it all. GabiFresh’s line for Swimsuits For All is nice, just a different aesthetic. It’s still a bit safe in my opinion. There is space for us all to exist on the same plane and I just want CURVYKINI to be an option. Plus-size women deserve options! I can count on one hand the options for sexy, plus-size swim and that, in and of itself, is problematic. GabiFresh’s line is made in China, in mass quantities, while CURVYKINI is made domestically, in NYC. Comparatively, our prices are right on point with better department stores, which is an amazing feat considering how much more expensive it is to manufacture domestically in small quantities. Lastly, there is a bit of exclusivity with CURVYKINI, and because we make small quantities in each style and color, chances are, you won’t see another woman wearing your swimsuit while you’re on vacation.
Where do you see your line as far as growing in the next few years?
I see CURVYKINI growing to be more mainstream in the next few years. I see it in better boutiques. I see CURVYKINI being sold in Nordstrom and Macy’s. I see CURVYKINI being a reliable option for quality, luxury swimwear for curvy women in sizes 10-24. I see CURVYKINI becoming a household name and brand within the plus-size community.