How One Swimwear Founder Helps Girls Feel More Confident in Bikinis
Diving into the world of swimwear is a competitive game.
The space is saturated—who doesn't want to own a cool swimwear line, or strut their stuff in a flattering swimsuit? That said, when it comes to bikinis, options for bigger busted girls are scarce.
It's hard enough finding a bikini that compliments other areas of the body, let alone the chest. From personal experience, I've found that bikini tops made in larger sizes either provide too much coverage that ages me up quite a bit or provides absolutely no support whatsoever. That's why when I discovered affordable Aussie brand RAQ Apparel (which is designed for bigger busted girls), it changed the way I view two-pieces.
A rep for the brand sent me a handful of samples in various sizes so I could find what fits me best. I opted for black high waist briefs and a matching multi way top. I hadn't felt this comfortable in a bikini in so long. Not only did the bottom provide enough coverage in the stomach area, the top fully supported my chest, without me feeling like a covered-up old lady—it was the perfect combination. I love how the brand offers consistently larger sizes for tops but has a wide variety of bottoms, so if someone does want to show a little more skin (unlike me), they indeed have the option.
I had the pleasure of chatting with RAQ Apparel's inspirational founder, Sophia Argyropoulos, who talks about her career journey and why her line is one of the first of its kind. Keep reading for all she had to say.
Sweety High: How did RAQ come to be?
Sophia Argyropoulos: Growing up with 30H boobs, bra and swimsuit shopping was a nightmare for me. I was so jealous of my smaller-chested friends who had so many options. They could select a swimsuit based on the occasion—a family vacation and a pool party call for very different swimsuits—or how it matched with the rest of their outfit that day. I had no choice but to wear ill-fitting, daggy swimsuits that I felt were designed for women much older than me.
I always dreamed of wearing the same styles, colors and prints as my friends. That's why I launched my own range for girls with a fuller bust like me. RAQ swimwear is trendy but also supportive, flattering and comfortable, and it's easy to find the right fit!
SH: How long was the process of coming up with the concept to seeing it come to life?
SA: After years of complaining, a close friend of mine, who is also a fashion designer, encouraged me to design my own swimsuit. She said, "All you have to do is start. Don't think about what's ahead, just start." She helped me sketch up my ideas and connected me with one of her manufacturers. Five months later, I launched one minimal black style in 12 bra sizes. Since then, our range has expanded to six colorways and 35 bra sizes across bands 28-36. Having this many swimsuit options in my size is a dream come true! I finally have a choice of what to wear to the beach with my friends, a pool party or a family vacation.
SH: What's the most difficult part of starting a swimsuit line?
SA: Developing the styles themselves and getting them made so they actually fit. There are over 30 different measurements in every single RAQ top. Every measurement has to be correct, otherwise the whole thing just doesn't work. Combine that with our 35 different size options and that's a whole lot of math that needs to be right! We put blood, sweat and tears into every style—I have literally cried tears of joy and frustration during this process.
We're about to launch a brand-new style, which will be a game-changer for girls with big busts. I came up with the idea 12 months ago, and my designer helped me develop the first samples shortly after. Since then, we've made 20 different versions and have tested on multiple women across our size range. It's been a long and tiring process for everyone involved, but it's one that's necessary for such a technical product.
SH: Why do you think there aren't more swimsuit lines out there for bigger-busted girls?
SA: In three words: It's hard work! The reality is that traditional swim brands only offer five sizes (XS, S, M, L and XL) because it's easier for them to offer less, and for customers to somehow "make it work" because this has been standard industry practice for so long. Manufacturers are not used to producing more than the standard five sizes, let alone incorporating all the extra technical elements required for big bust swimwear (i.e. underwire, powermesh, boning).
Somehow, we convinced a manufacturer to produce 12 bra sizes. In 16 months, we've expanded the range to 35 sizes. That's
30 more sizes than a traditional swimwear brand! We take customer requests for sizes and styles very seriously and try our best to work with our suppliers to deliver what our customers want.
SH: What's the most important thing to you when purchasing a swimsuit?
SA: The most important thing when purchasing a swimsuit online is to read up about the brand's styles and sizes before you order. Brands offering an innovative size range or product range usually offer really detailed fit information so you can work out the best style and size for you.
We quickly discovered that most women and girls don't get professionally fitted on a regular basis, so many don't know their true bra size. We have since developed a comprehensive online fitting process that helps customers overcome this barrier.
Our Fit Guide also includes fit FAQ, international size charts and an option to chat live with an expert fitter. Customers will also find detailed fitter's comments on every product page so they can understand how each style fits, compared with standard bras or other RAQ swimsuits.
SH: What were your focus points when you started RAQ?
SA: From day one, my main focus was to provide busty women with well-designed, trendy swimsuits at an affordable price point.
Another focus is making swimwear shopping as enjoyable as possible, by always going the extra mile for our customers. We offer extensive support before purchase, free shipping worldwide and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Last but not least, self-improvement and growth are at the heart of RAQ. We embrace opinions, feedback, ideas and oversharing as much as we embrace our [bodies] (which is to say, 100%). We designed our new style based on customer feedback, so I know it's going to be a winner!
SH: Were you influenced by any particular designers or brands?
SA: I'm influenced by fashion trends in general, rather than particular designers or brands. All I ever wanted was to wear the beautiful bikinis that my smaller-chested friends wore, so now that I have the power to design, I draw inspiration from mainstream fashion and standard-size swimwear trends.
SH: What's your advice for the girl who feels insecure in a swimsuit?
SA: Start following more body positive Instagram accounts, like @raqapparel! People really respond to our lighthearted approach and the way we showcase our swimwear on women of many shapes and sizes. I think it helps them realize that most women have curves, and beauty is all about how you carry yourself.
SH: What are the biggest trends you're noticing in 2019 swimwear?
SA: In the past, leopard print was something only your eccentric aunty would wear, but over SS19 we've seen the print become the pattern of choice. Many people now describe leopard print as a neutral. Other animal prints are starting to take hold, with snake, tiger, zebra and even cow becoming more popular in high fashion and street style alike. We're also seeing animal prints in brighter variations (like our red snake swimsuit) and animal prints blended together. Maybe you'll see an expansion of our animal print offerings over the next six months. [laughs]
SH: Anything else you want to add about RAQ or swimwear in general?
SA: Women and teenage girls who wear D cup or above actually number around 60% of the population. Yep, that's a fact. So if your boobs are bigger than all your friends' or the girls on social media, just know this: You're not alone. You're actually part of the majority. Come join our community on Instagram and you will see!
Speaking of swimwear confidence, HERE's how one of our writers learned how to feel good strutting her stuff in a swimsuit.