Beloved inclusive swimwear brand Kitty and Vibe has tapped multi-hyphenate Nicole Byer to be one of its creative designers and celebrity investors. Alongside Olympian Sloane Stephens and actress Zoe Colletti, this is the very first time the brand has first-class designers and celebrity investors. This summer, all three women will have finished designing their very own swimsuit prints that will be called “vibes” to shop from one of the brand’s best-selling styles. It’s truly refreshing to see a swimwear brand actually focus on inclusivity the way Kitty and Vibe do. The brand, founded in 2018, has been practicing what they preach since the beginning with a no photoshop or airbrush policy, staying true to the ethos that ” all bodies are beautiful and anyone is worthy of being a swimsuit model,” as said by the founder Cameron Armstrong.
The actress, producer, comedian, writer, and director (probably missing something) practices body neutrality, which is radical acceptance and respect of your body. “Okay, so I love my body in a bathing suit. It’s yummy as hell, and I want others to love their bodies and feel good in the bodies they have,” says Byer. “For that to happen, bathing suit brands need to have size inclusivity, which is why I’m so happy to be working with Kitty & Vibe. They understand that small divas, all the way to the big divas, need to look and feel good. I’ve always wanted to create a bathing suit line, and now my lil dream is a reality, and that’s a real treat for me.”
She tells ESSENCE what she thinks when the word inclusive comes to mind. “When I think of inclusivity, what comes to mind is everybody can shop at that place. Everybody’s included, small little divas can shop here, big old divas can shop there, and everybody in between. I’ve gone to stores with friends where they get to try on like the whole store, and I’m like, “Oh, this bag is cute. This necklace is cute.” I don’t like that. That’s not inclusive.”
Byer has been able to use her other talents to help her design process. There are mockups and templates that kind of equate to reading a script. As an actress on set, if she doesn’t feel like her character wouldn’t say a line, she speaks up. In her design process, it’s similar in that way of speaking up if she feels differently about something. She breaks down a script to figure out her character, and by designing swimwear, she’s breaking down the bikini. “I knew I was doing bathing suits, but then it got broken apart into, like, what type of bikinis? What type of one-piece? What like accouterments do you want to put on it? What kind of necklines do you want? It’s been very fun.”
Kitty and Vibe did a recent study of over 500 women, and the results came back that 96 percent of women hate shopping for swimwear. The brand’s whole ethos is to change this narrative and make being on the beach or at the pool the fun experience it should be. Tops sold by the brand range from cup sizes A to H, and bottoms have two inseam measurements to ensure a perfect fit. The brand is also community oriented as they encourage “superfans” to become models for their swimwear, garnering a 3000+ waitlist. Kitty and Vibe’s slogan #kindismyvibe just goes along with their mission of spreading kindness overall.
“I feel like it’s important to be part of something like this because I just like posting my body in bikinis. I like being in lingerie, I like my body. And I don’t know if it’s admission. I just want other people to feel comfy in their bodies that they have,” Byer tells ESSENCE. “And know that, like, but I’m not like body positive, I’m body neutral. Like, if you want to change your body, go do it. I don’t care. I’m not gonna get mad at you. But like you got to embrace what you have currently. And what better way to embrace it than by throwing on a bikini or a little one-piece cute and going to the beach.”
Be one of the first to shop the Summer Collection when it drops and sign up for Byer’s waitlist. In the meantime, check out the “vibes” she’s designed for the brand.