– This is not a contribution to diversity

In the last year, several celebrity women have launched their own swimwear brand, and the latest news is that the motivation has been to create a greater diversity in both colors and sizes.

– I think there is a lack of swimwear that fits several shapes, that is comfortable and that does not get ugly after bathing in salt water and washing it a couple of times. That it lasts better and has better quality. Therefore, I thought I wanted to do this, says Astrid Smeplass to Good evening Norway.

LAUNCH: Sigrid Bonde Tusvik shared this photo to her 160,000 followers on Instagram. The photo shows her recently launched swimwear. Photo: Instagram / @ sigridbondetusvik

Last week, she appeared in her own, newly launched bathing fashion at Universal’s garden party.

In addition to the artist’s goal of making swimwear into several shapes, the products are marketed as sustainable.

Her Swim Club collection is made in collaboration with Eco Concepts, which has also worked with the collection of two other celebrity women, Sigrid Bonde Tusvik and Charlotte Spetalen.

They too have wanted to contribute to greater diversity on the swimwear front with their Aix Studio collection.

– We make swimsuits in all shapes and for all people of all ages, so here it is just to have fun and enjoy her body and summer, says Charlotte Spetalen.

We met the trio behind the collection during ELLE’s magnificent summer party last week. There, Charlotte Spetalen, Sigrid Bonde Tusvik and Marit Aspen all lined up in swimwear from their brand new collection.

– I think that everyone has had a need to put on a bathing suit now. We will open, we will fly down to the South, that is probably why everyone makes swimwear collections. Because we miss the craving for the South so much. And there is room for everyone, remember that, says Tusvik.

Influencer Sara Emilie Tandberg, for her part, took a hard line against the Oslo spa The Well for their offer of swimwear in March. The spa requires you to use their clothes inside the area. The year before, she launched her own bikini collection.

The Well responded Seher.no at that time that guests must use specially developed swimwear to, among other things, reduce water spills.

They also stated that they understand that it is a pity for Tandberg, who “these days is launching his own summer collection of swimwear and who probably would rather use his own design”. Nevertheless, they wanted to include Tandberg’s input into the spa’s further development.

– We see that Careless has covered a hole in the market. The idea started when I myself gained 45 kilos in my first pregnancy, and I struggled to find a bikini. Our bikinis go from XS-3XL, and we use diversity in our marketing, she says to Good evening Norway.

– The goal of Careless is to make others feel better, that they are good enough as they are and that life is too short for us to limit our choices based on who size we are, she adds.

Hailed by some – criticized by others

The celebrity women’s launches of swimwear collections create debate.

Fashion theorist Pia Henriksen praises women for their contribution to swimwear.

– The arrival of swimwear that focuses on different body shapes and the joy of wearing swimwear is just a positive reinforcement in the collective awareness of what clothes can do for you. I think it is important that body shapes become part of the swimwear, she says.

That swimwear creates debate, she thinks has a natural explanation.

– There are no garments that make the body more visible than swimwear, not even underwear. But it can make us more naked than if we had actually been naked. Swimwear requires the right context for us to accept it as a garment. And that, I think, is what triggers so much commitment and emotion around swimwear, she says.

One who believes that celebrity women completely fail in their attempt to create diversity in swimwear is body activist, social debater and adviser at the Gender Equality Center, Carina Elisabeth Carlsen. She is behind the Instagram account Fat fetishwhich has 21,000 followers.

RESPONDS: Social debater and body positivist Carina Elisabeth Carlsen is no longer impressed by the celebrity women's contribution to diversity.  Photo: Bjørnar Solberg

RESPONDS: Social debater and body positivist Carina Elisabeth Carlsen is no longer impressed by the celebrity women’s contribution to diversity. Photo: Bjørnar Solberg

– These ladies have launched swimwear that is cool and colorful, but I do not want to call it a special contribution to diversity, she says.

– Careless by Sara Emilie is the only one of these three that has any selection for larger bodies, and the only one that has taken diversity into account. So she should have for it. The only thing the other two add is an even larger selection for bodies that already have a good and wide selection. A person who deviates from the norm is not a diversity, but an alibi, she adds.

Tandberg’s brand Careless offers swimwear in sizes from XS to 3XL.

Astrid S and Swim Club offer swimwear from XS to XL, while Aix Studio, including Sigrid Bonde Tusvik, has one swimsuit in 3XL, otherwise they offer sizes from XS to 2XL.

– Nothing that fits

Carlsen also responds that they throw themselves into the trend of diversity and body positivism, without adding anything positive to the debate.

– I’m so tired of people saying ‘hey, here I’m doing something for diversity ». This is not a contribution to increasing diversity, but to using the diversity card as a sales tactic. In addition, the images mainly consist of standard bodies, ie slim, white, seemingly healthy people and models. Sara Emilie gets a weak grade B, because we can all get better, while the others get beaten, she says in cash.

She says that she herself is a “small / mid-fat”, and that there are many who are bigger than her.

– I can find nothing that fits based on the size selection of Astrid S and Sigrid Bonde Tusvik. At Astrid S, the size only goes up to XL. At Sigrid, there is a special swimsuit that goes up to 3XL, but it is covered by a skirt, so here you hide the body and it is also not very user-friendly. Swimming with a skirt is heavy. Those who are bigger than me will have problems finding anything, she says.

She adds that the selection in swimwear in general is “completely cruel”.

Carlsen further says that she understands why celebrity women focus on diversity in their launches.

– It’s trendy. Body positivism has gained momentum, but it is standing still. Therefore, we must get the body in as a basis for discrimination. This is about a lot more than swimwear, she says.

She believes that we generally need to increase knowledge about the body, body pressure and diversity, and create a higher awareness in society.

– Celebrities and designers have the opportunity to go in the breeze. But then it must actually deliver, and not just pretend.

Responds to criticism

Sigrid Bonde Tusvik is one of the ladies behind the brand Aix Studio. She says they hope everyone can find a model that suits them.

– We have made four swimsuits, in many different sizes, which will meet various bodies and shapes. WE use ourselves and friends as models. One of the models became ill the same day we took the joint photo, so the makeup artist had to step in. We hope everyone who buys the swimsuits finds a model they will enjoy.

Astrid S says she will use the feedback in the development of upcoming collections.

– The entire team in Swim Club has a desire to create a brand that is inclusive. As a start-up company, we must acknowledge that we are not world champions yet. We welcome all constructive criticism, and I am very happy that this engages others as it has engaged me. I look forward to developing Swim Club further and being able to offer an even larger selection in future collections, she says.

Tandberg does not understand Carlsen’s criticism of Careless. She says that a visit to the company’s Instagram page will provide insight into how well represented all bodies are with them.

DISAGREE: Sara Emilie Tandberg thinks the criticism is undeserved.  Photo: Instagram / @saraemilie

DISAGREE: Sara Emilie Tandberg thinks the criticism is undeserved. Photo: Instagram / @saraemilie

To the claim that the models do not represent a wide range of sizes, she replies:

– That’s not true. We always have all sizes on the shoot, up to 3XL. My mother of almost 60 is with me. And then of course we have down to the second scale with those that represent the smallest size, XXS. We have also had different skin tones, and never edited away stretch marks, scars and so on, she writes in a message.

Good name = good store

Media expert and media consultant Arne-Inge Christophersen says that there can be good money to be made for the profiles.

– Using the name or your own brand can be very profitable. Not only a direct income from the sale, but also a “cut” of sales that they create by providing discount codes in their own channels, he says.

– The prerequisite for success is probably mainly based on having a name and not least a decent following in social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and to some extent Facebook. The second prerequisite is probably that you are seen as a trendsetter and are strongly in the fashion scene. Finally, you have to deliver good and functional creations and products that appeal to a slightly wider mass, he adds.

Christophersen says that if you have this, together with good and available purchasing platforms, good logistics and effective marketing, then you can certainly succeed well.

– Sold for six million – in May alone

A good proof of this is Sara Emilie Tandberg and the brand Careless.

Careless launched was launched in June 2021, and had sales in the last half of last year for around NOK 13 million, according to Tandberg.

– This year we have a turnover of 6 million kroner alone in May, so it is super fun to see that people like it, she says.

The accounts for 2021 are not yet clear.

That well-known profiles launch their own clothing collection in one form or another is nothing new.

And that good names can give good store, we have seen many examples of. Marketing expert Trond Blindheim at Kristiania University College thinks the explanation is simple.

– People by virtue of their celebrity status have the opportunity to influence others, and are often used as opinion leaders in advertising and PR. When the message comes from a famous person, it reaches a larger and more target group-oriented audience than if it came from an unknown photo model, he says.

On the men’s side, names from the sports world in particular have distinguished themselves with their own designs in the fashion scene. Everything from Bjørn Dæhlie and Vegard Ulvang to Petter Northug has had great success with their own collections.

Several well-known male profiles have also thrown themselves into trends. In 2018, Aksel Lund Svindal launched the clothing brand Greater then A, which was marketed as green and sustainable. Most recently this week, artist Alexander Rybak also came up with his own collection. This too is marketed as sustainable on the star Instagram profile.

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