Swimwear for the slightly shy

17:00, May 02 2014
Old school: Annemiek Weterings, a vintage swim wear designer at Petone wharf with some of her vintage-inspired creations.

It's no secret that Kiwis love the water - but the average Kiwi woman is not always comfortable in today's body-hugging swimwear.

It's a dilemma Wellington designer Annemiek Weterings has noticed and has an answer for. She has begun making "vintage" swimwear from her home in Belmont, selling her wares at local markets and online, under the brand name of Swanwear.

Weterings is no stranger to sewing - coming from a background in costume making for WETA Workshop, and in 1997 was winner of the World of Wearable Arts Supreme Award.

She came up with the idea of making swimwear while pregnant - "I wanted a swimsuit that could stretch over my tummy" - and set about investigating how to put it into practice.

Weterings says she went with a vintage look because it is more flattering and goes hand-in- hand with the connotations of Kiwi holidays and enjoying the seaside.

"Swanwear is about trying to get people to feel good while enjoying the water," she says.

Before making her swimwear, she consults with customers what kind of design they would like and what part of their bodies they want to accentuate.

She wants people to feel good in her swimwear and therefore enjoy beach holidays and water excursions without feeling conscious or ashamed of their bodies, she says.

"Water is such a healing, fun and happy thing.

"Anyone can get away with [swimming] - you just need to be confident."

An eternal op-shopper, Weterings says she wouldn't have a clue what the fashion industry gets up to.

"I've never been interested in fashion. For me, it's about the individual."

Body consciousness is a big problem, she says, and swimwear gives people the opportunity to feel good in the water, at the same time demonstrating to their kids the importance of healthy body image.

This is one of the reasons she chose Maori model Tristanne Cameron, as the "face" of her label in a recently run model-finding competition.

In her entry, Cameron had written about how important it was for women - particularly Maori women - to be proud of showing their bodies on the beach.

"Our tamariki (children) are watching."

Weterings, who has her own tamariki - girls Vjeta, 10, and Gylfie, 8 - says having kids sparked the transition from her Wearable Arts career into her design business.

The long hours demanded by WETA and a self-confessed obsessive nature could not be sustained once kids were on the scene, she says.

Find out more about Weterings's designs at swanwear.felt.co.nz.


The Dominion Post