A few weeks ago I spoke with Clara Fortini about her swimwear line, Nua. She told me that Nua translates to naked in Portuguese, in which she is fluent, meaning that the suit fits in such a comfortable way that it feels as though you are wearing next to nothing, like a second skin. She wanted to bring life and colour to her customer’s life palette and that is reflected heavily when looking at the collection.
Season five of Nua is about to debut in a few months and the collections have only improved each season. All of the pieces are constructed of thick nylon and spandex swimsuit fabric. As functional as they are for beach and poolside lounging they can all be dressed up into chic outfits. Fortini says that this was something she highly focused on during the design process. “You can’t wear swimsuits in the restaurants at some resorts, she says. But zip on the sleeve and slip on a skirt and it suddenly looks like a chic outfit” showing me a photo to demonstrate, wearing a white one sleeved swimsuit with a mini skirt, Michael Kors heels, a clutch purse, and hoop earrings.
Asking where the inspiration came to do a practical but glam line of swimwear she told me that it was after a vacation to the party island in Ibiza where almost all party goers were dressed up in bathing suits with stilettos and full hair and makeup in the early evening. Pop singers like Rihanna and Beyonce can be blamed for this “bottomless” look. Music videos showing woman in sleek bodysuits, high heels, and full glam are becoming increasingly popular inspiring a nightclub trend. The first season of Nua was shown in an actual nightclub on King Street West. “I wanted to show it off as a leisure suit, a lounge suit, and a chilling suit” she said, bringing it back to the first design goal of being able to dress it up into an outfit.
Starting to talk more about the business logistics of the company, she told me that she has space in a warehouse just North of the city that holds the product until it is ready to be sold. She has some samples at her condo to show or sell to people that are close to her but the rest is at the warehouse. The bathing suits are manufactured completely locally here in Toronto which really adds value to them. At first glance the $150 price point may seem a bit steep but seeing they are all made in Toronto it is a very reasonable price. Canadians love buying products that are made in Canada, supporting local and helping our own economy. Fortini says that her customers show this when giving feedback about the company always saying that it is an attracting feature. The Canadian manufacturing sets her brand above mainstream swimwear lines from companies like Victoria Secret which is made overseas.
The suits are sold exclusively online, the entire website is set up for just Nua. The website is visually appealing and shows not only this years collection but collections from previous years too which is nice for new and old customers being able to see how the brand has grown and changed each season. The website is split into two categories, swimsuits and cover ups. This arrangement is perfect because the customer can choose the perfect suit for themselves and then go over to the other part of the website and find a cover up to match.
Being sold online only makes running the company easier. Not having to deal with communicating back and forth with stores and transporting the product from the warehouse to each store saves a lot of time and money. Running the business strictly as an online store eliminates the second person. Once the order is placed online it can be received and processed at the warehouse. After the warehouse receives the order it can simply package it and ship it directly to the customer. This eliminates the amount of places the product has to travel to therefore reducing the risk of theft and damages. When asked if she see’s the bathing suits being sold in stores in the future Fortini says that she loves the operations of the online store but won’t rule it out as an option.
As fashion students this company can be inspiring to us all. Taking the concept of wanting every woman to feel sexy, Fortini was able to develop an entire company around it. Being able to connect her love for fashion, sex appeal, functionality, and empowering woman makes the company a model for anyone wanting to start their own business, showing that you can do something that brings all of your passions into one. The story of this company shows us that it is possible to create your own business without spending millions of dollars. Hopefully the glamorous, unique, but practical aspects of the bathing suits will allow Nua to be equally successful and grow in the collections and years to come.