As the bikini celebrates its 70th anniversary during the summer of 2016, FIT alumna Gina Esposito―a swimwear designer―recalls her own two-piece swimsuit moment.
“When I was a lifeguard in Hempstead, NY, we were only allowed to wear one-pieces,” she recalls. “So my friend and I fought the town to allow two-piece bathing suits because we wanted to get a tan. We did research, created a look book on the history of the bikini, and we won. Ever since then, all the girls who lifeguard in Hempstead can wear two-pieces.”
While Esposito says, looking back, that what she did was rooted in the wishes of a teenage girl, she is also acutely aware that her efforts had greater significance.
“It’s a metaphor for women having a choice,” she said. “It’s bigger than just being able to wear two-pieces. It’s about being ok with your body, and I think it’s important that people should do what they want to do.”
Which is something Esposito knows a lot about. As the founder of Nu Swim, Esposito creates swimwear for women of a variety of ages, sizes, and body types. She graduated from FIT in 2006 with an AAS in Fashion Design, specializing in sportswear. As a swimmer and former lifeguard, Esposito has always been around water, and wanted to incorporate swimwear into a full collection.
In January 2015, she launched Nu Swim, a line of simple, multi-functional, fashion-forward designs. A factory in Oakland does her production, and most of her promotion comes from social media (her brand has 20,000 Instagram followers).
And bikini sales have remained brisk. “I even get orders in the winter,” she said. “And they’re from women in their 20s all the way to women in their 60s.”