Big & Bold

07.16.13

Model Robyn Lawley Debuts Plus-Size Bathing-Suit Line

Iconic model Robyn Lawley, who eschews the term ‘plus size,’ is out in August with an eponymous swimwear line for women sizes 8 to 18. She talks to Isabel Wilkinson about the endeavor—and finding the perfect fit.

Last year, Robyn Lawley made news for being the first plus-size model ever featured in a Ralph Lauren campaign.

Now she’s releasing a swimwear line for women of all sizes—though she doesn’t want you to call it “plus size.”

Her Robyn Lawley Swimwear line, which will be available online in August, caters to women size 8 to 18—and offers up a bright (and pretty sexy) array of bikinis and one-piece suits.

The Australian model, 24, says she had wanted to start a line “on and off since I was 18” and eventually decided to do it after frustrations with other swimsuits. “The first priority on my mind was fit,” she tells The Daily Beast. “I don’t want my swimwear cutting into me on my hips and my thighs. I want support in the bikini tops for the surf, because when you’re mucking around in the water, you don’t want your top to fly off.”

The result is an assortment of cheerful and vibrant suits that feel simultaneously young and style-conscious. There’s a blue and purple leopard-print bikini, a series of retro silhouettes, and structured tops with architectural straps. One bikini bottom has an adjustable waist that allows women to wear it either high or low waisted.

Lawley, who has previously contributed to The Daily Beast, says she conducted focus groups for women sizes 8 to 16 before starting the line and found that many of them wanted bikinis that were true to size. Most women have to go several sizes up to find bikinis that fit, she says. Lawley designed her line with this in mind—and made sure all of her swimsuits are true to size. (The suits will be sold online in August, for between $120 and $200.)

Lawley acknowledges that the very definition of “plus size” today is skewed, thanks in part to unrealistic body norms set by the fashion industry. “I think plus size is derogatory no matter what size you are,” she says. “It’s not something I’d want to be called.”

“I want support in the bikini tops for the surf, because when you’re mucking around in the water, you don’t want your top to fly off.”

As Lawley wrote in The Daily Beast last fall: “Manipulating young girls and boys into thinking they have to fit designer clothes, instead of designing the clothes that fit the person, is both outlandish and cruel. Don’t these designers have mothers, daughters, sons, sisters? Don’t they want to make people feel empowered and beautiful in their clothes? I know that’s what I would want if I was a designer.” She continued: “When I finally embraced my true weight, and was accepted as a plus-size model, I remember feeling whole and complete. I was meant to be this size. My trainer said I was the first woman to come up to him and say, ‘I don’t want to lose weight, I want to be strong and fast.’ Instead of spending hours lamenting over weight loss, I channeled all that energy into living my life to the fullest, day in and day out. What’s so amazing about being a size 0 anyway? Is it because that person exhibits control in a hedonistic world? Or is it just a tool of manipulation against us? I am proud of my body, flaws and all.”

In the future, Lawley says, she might consider expanding into other kinds of apparel—but for now she’s focused squarely on modeling. She “can’t wait” to expand the brand to larger and smaller sizes, she says, to create swimwear that best enhances the natural shape of women’s bodies. Small or large, she says, “I want to market it as a fit for every woman.”